Marriage, Heaven, and a Wakened Bride {Are we having too much fun?}

God pulled together three seemingly unrelated sources to paint me a picture of His message. Here is that message...

{six word story by me}

Starting with a concept I read in Rob Bell's book Sex God. We are the bride and Christ is the bridegroom. Ever thought more of that analogy? I haven't. The wedding tradition in the first century is for the groom to, once the engagement is announced, go build an addition to his father's house for the bride and groom to live in after the wedding ceremony.

Once the father decides the addition is complete, the groom and his friends go to the bride's house to get her. They will know which room is hers because she has filled her lamp with oil each night and set it in the window for him to see. He gets her and everyone gathers back at his house where the party starts. Before all of this, back at the engagement ceremony, the groom gives a speech promising that he will return to bring the bride back to their home.
"My father's house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." {p. 169-170}

It's the same speech Christ gives in John 14:2-4 to say that He is returning for His bride, the church.

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{no lasting city}

The next week, dancing with Brylee to country music on the radio, a song came on that caught my attention--and not in a good way. Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to go now. "Next time you got the good Lord's ear / Say I'm comin' but there ain't no hurry / I'm havin' fun down here." Apparently Kenny Chesney "speaks for the crowd," that everyone has a little more fun to consume here before we're ready for the hereafter. It's meant to be lighthearted, but it upsets me to my core. There's countless people that feel this way to some extent. Come Lord Jesus, just not quite yet. There's proclaimed Christians that feel this way. Heck, there has been at least once that I caught myself thinking, "Lord, I really want to go to Heaven, but..."

Seriously?! He's preparing this amazing place for He and His bride (us/me) to call home--it's perfect--and I'm sitting here saying "but"?! Shameful. Lord, forgive me, for I do not know what I am saying. That's just it. When we think or feel this way, we don't know what we're saying. We don't understand the perfection Christ has prepared for us, so how could we possibly give up the good we think we have here? Here's the catch: as Christians, we know its so much better, because He said so.

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A few more days pass, and I'm reading my new book that just came in the mail: 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I'm in chapter 3 and feeling like I'm getting to the heart of the matter. Or at least Jesus is reaching to my heart. Jen is giving up her possessions and sharing her experiences with this, including an incredible moment when thousands of women sacrifice the shoes off their feet plus so much more to acknowledge their commitment to Christ at one of her speaking arrangements. Seventy moving boxes were filled with the offerings off their backs and feet and hands. She brings it full circle:
A stirring is happening within the Bride. God is awakening the church from her slumber, initiating a profound advancement of the kingdom.
     Please don't miss it because the American Dream seems a reasonable substitute, countering the apparent downside to living simply so others can live at all. Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. {p. 90-91}

There is plenty in this life to distract us from Christ. To keep us from Heaven. To make us think we're living this thing right. Making us wrongly believe that we can keep Jesus at arm's length for when we're ready, but the only proper place to hold Him is in our hearts, listening for when He is ready. It's all or nothing, no in between or hold button. Just right here, right now, what is it going to be?
As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live--we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love. {p. 91}

{Kingdom come}