Being Loyal to Christ and His Bride

Read Revelation 17-18

What is the Bride?

As we know, the “Bride” is the Church. This is Christ’s identification with His people and an image of our Redeemer’s intimacy and the community between God and His children.

This is beyond a mere metaphor as it is about the life, love, and joy that a first century marriage celebration represented that Christ shares with us and calls us to share with one another in our covenant of Grace.

And in Revelation, this is also a contrast to the divorce of the harlot and a stern warning to John’s people in his church, to not to cheat on our Lord by way of our pride, false worship, false teaching, or our apathy or arrogance, or anything that gets in the way of us pointing His Bride to the Redeemer (Ex. 22:16; Is. 54:5-7; Hos. 2:19-20; Matt. 9:15; 22:2; John 2:1-3; 3:29; 22:2-14; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Heb. 2:5; 6:5; 1 John 1:3-10; Rev. 19:7; 21:1-8 ).

The passage goes on to say that evil is judged and condemned while true spirituality in Christ is eternally rewarded and beneficial. This is also about our own vindication, and all the benefits we have when we are in Christ. We are a part of His Kingdom that is being showcased in this passage, so we who are in Christ can sing a loud and clear Hallelujah!

The imagery of Rome in this passage is “Babylon” and may be referring to the persecution and martyrdom the early Christians faced in life under Rome, perhaps as illustration for some of us and reality to many others today and the principle point to his churches. In addition, this is a template for how evil and its power operates in the past, present, as well as in the future. This is about how pastors and church leaders go wrong by chasing themselves and not Christ. This is about how evil does not always know it is evil, because it is blinded by pride and self will, in the church and in society. This is also leading to its future–its self-destruction.

Here is a simple test to see if you or the pastor is loyal is this. Does the teaching and character point to Christ or point to themselves or something else? Does the first response and vision showcase the Lordship of Christ or the way I want things? What does Christ call us to do and what betrays Him?

Rome gave away food to appease its citizens while they enticed them with sins and heinous amusements of people being slaughtered in arenas. Placating to Rome gave one privileges; standing up to it gave one death or the loss of land and rights. The issue before the Church was compromise and loyalty–would their allegiance be to a prostitute Rome, to Christ, or to what?

Some theologians have suggested that “Babylon” referred to apostate Jerusalem, but there is little Jewish evidence for that. Jerusalem has already fallen. Also, the principle arguments against Jerusalem as the subject matter of this passage is that it does not sit on many waters nor did it reign over other nations at this time!

The bottom line for us in church leadership is, how is evil affecting and effecting your ministry, your vision, you perceptions and your church?

The Call for the Church from Colossians PII

…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel… Colossians 1:15-23

Christ is Supreme! That means He is also the Head of the Church! We tend to run our churches as if we were in control, basing our decisions on gathering needs and developing programs to fill those needs. Yet, as good as this may sound, the main thing in church leadership is left out. Where is Christ and where is His purpose and direction? We close the door to our Lord! He is the head; that means we must line ourselves up to Him and His Lordship, not our ideas, trivialities, and agendas. We are to seek Him as Lord over all—over our lives as well as our churches!

Remember the Dead Sea; if all we do is allow Him to flow into us and not out, we will stagnate. If we just try to go it alone without our Lord, we will fail. We cannot flow out if nothing flows in.

The responsibility is clear; we are to allow His Spirit to flow in and out, as we are His tools, His children, and His love. When our faith becomes strong, we will not be moved from it, and that means we will not be moved away from Christ. This is what steadfastness is all about: not being shaken from our beliefs and faith in our Lord. When we stray off our path, we tend to substitute steadfastness with stubbornness that takes us far from the purpose and responsibility of the Lord’s church. Being firmly rooted in Christ means keeping to the integrity of Scripture and His teachings, for when we stray from that path, our church will stray away from His opportunities and call. Christ gives us the hope and opportunities to grow, learn, and abide in Him; we are to respond to the call and opportunities He gives with hope and joy.

We must do this in all things—worship, relationships, our thought processes, how we make decisions, and how we institute and instigate the work of the church.

It all must flow and come from Christ our Lord, our Leader and God, and from nowhere else. When we stop experiencing Jesus as our Lord, and He becomes only a figure in the sanctuary, then we will not be a purposeful or called Church for Him. When we are singing praise choruses and hymns that point to His Holiness and Greatness and as Head of our lives and church, do we mean it? Or, is it merely rhetoric and repetition that has no meaning behind it?

The church exists as a response to the grace of our Lord. Because of what He did, we are to glorify, magnify, praise His name, and then respond further from our worship of Him to our works for Him. Remember that works have no saving construct; they are only the appreciation and response we are give to His majesty and redemption. Grace working in us will produce the work and will of our devotion and holiness to set us apart for His plan. Our response is to accept His teachings and love with joyful excitement, and replicate it in our lives, thoughts, and actions, and to grow and perfect the relationship and work He gives us.

The Call for the Church from Colossians PI

…He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy…. Colossians 1:15-23

The chief characteristic of who we are in Christ is the fact He is the living Supreme God who has existed for all time, who transcends space, time and thought, who knows us intimately, and who loves us. Christ is Lord; Christ is Supreme! Christ is the tangible aspect of God who is beyond sight and comprehension. He is the God who created the universe, who made all things. He made all that we see, and all that we do not see! He is the God who created the molecules of substance, formed the ground on which we stand and the wood on which He was crucified. In all of life, in whatever we will face and know, He has gone and still goes before and with us. This world was created by Christ and for Christ; He is indeed supreme. We need to learn to live our lives in Him for His glory. In so doing, we will be much better as stewards of His Church.

Church life is not about our ideas, presumptions, or expectations—it is about Him as LORD!

When we finally achieve this mindset, we begin our journey of growing in faith, maturity, character, and becoming more content in life and of better use to Christ and others around us. This is realized when we see the hope we have in Him, and allow that hope to be a foundation; He will carry is through all things.

What does this passage have to do with the responsibility of the church?

A lot! This passage is about reconciliation, and the church’s responsibility is to mirror the character of God who reconciled us to Him! Christ has and is revealing the invisible God to us, and we cannot and must not look for God anywhere else. If we look for God in ourselves or anywhere else in the world, we will fail as a church and as believers. This is because the church is the body of Christ, and as believers we are to believe. We are to follow and lead as examples, surrendering to His Lordship and not our own.

One of the big issues and problems is that most Christians just do not get this passage. Our Lord is the head of His Church, including our church, yet our churches are run as if we were in total control and we reign supreme.

As far as the responsibility of the church goes, what more can we say, other than Christ is the head and our lead, thus the vision and call can only come from Him and not of ourselves and our effort. If Christ is our “all in all” then we must respond to His teachings as marching orders and not a list of suggestions or ideas. We are to see and know Him as our Creator and Lord, as our Redeemer and Savior, as our God. Then we can respond as the church that our Lord died for.