Anytime a natural disaster or pandemic occurs, the same question inevitably comes up, “Is Jesus coming back?”
My response is usually the same, “Yes! Yes He is coming back!” Until Jesus comes back, He is always coming back. We must always be ready, whether conditions look like it or not. Remember what the one who is coming back said concerning his coming back (Acts 1:7).
According to Scripture, we must not just always be ready, we must always be making ourselves ready. See Revelation 19:1-7, “...the bride has made herself ready”.
Saints, we are the bride, Jesus is the bridegroom, and all of creation is waiting for our marriage day when evil is eradicated, death dies, and everything sad becomes untrue. Oh, what a wedding it will be. But we are not there yet, we are in the “almost, not yet, Kingdom”; therefore, we must wait.
So, what are we to do in our waiting for our marriage day? Well, it’s not to stand around staring at the sky waiting for our bridegroom, but it’s also not to live as if we aren’t getting married.
In my short 10 years of ministry I’ve been blessed to lead many marriage ceremonies. One thing that is common in most every marriage is that the bride makes herself ready. There are plans to make, flowers to order, a dress to pick out, meals to decide on, a guest list to ponder on, music to select, and much more.
But notice, when the bride knows a wedding is coming, she is hardly doing nothing. She is making herself ready for her bridegroom, she is preparing actively so that when those doors open and all eyes are on her, her eyes are on her bridegroom, for she has made herself ready. She’s waited for and prepared for, this moment.
Saints, this is our delight as well when we’ve been raised to life with Christ, seated with him. It’s the second half of the gospel when we live into the truth we’ve been saved from sins and we start living into holiness. We take part in righteous deeds, because righteousness has been given to us - not because of our works, but because of Christ's work. We make ourselves ready by dressing in the righteousness of Christ, a righteousness lived out in our daily lives.
We, the church, the bride of Christ, are given the joy of living into being a holy people and becoming a whole people who have thrown off works of the flesh and live into the work of the Spirit. We are not chained to an embarrassing past with regrets, but we are unleashed into a Spirit-filled life. Now, this is tough, suffering-filled work, no doubt, but the Spirit intercedes. And in the power of the Spirit is the church, here to help.
To that end, Nashville UMC is launching a new discipleship ministry called “holy & WHOLE : a pattern for life together.” Now, more info will be coming out in the next weeks but I will leave you with the mission statement: “Holy and whole exists as a ministry to help sanctify the saved community of saints at Nashville as we learn to live into a pattern of life together where we can grow as mature disciples of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.”
In other words, it’s a ministry to help us, the bride, make ourselves ready. Ready to start making yourself ready? Stay tuned.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.