Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Wedding

I blogged yesterday about what we find at the end of the Bible--the wedding of Jesus and his bride, the Church. I tried to make the point that this heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, in Revelation 21 and 22 is actually us. It's not a city at all; it's just a picture of the new people of God.

The picture is meant to be contrasted with Rome, the "Eternal City" and source of persecution against God's people. John measures the heavenly city to show that it is incomprehensibly large, and far greater in every respect than Rome. In other words, Rome loses. The enemies of God lose; and the Church, those who persevere through trial and persecution and hardship--the Church wins because our Husband fights on our behalf.

The good news of all of this is that we have a Husband, a Conquering King-Groom, who is, even now, fighting on our behalf. All of the powers of evil that rage against us are not, themselves, without an enemy. Jesus is waging war for you. He is destroying "all dominion, power and authority", and he is putting all of his enemies "under his feet". This is what he is doing, right now, for us, in us, and through us.

Wherever you may be right now, you are headed for a wedding. That's how this story ends and the next story begins. The wedding of Jesus and his Church. And your Husband is not simply waiting around for you to arrive; he is actively creating a world that he deems suitable for your eternal presence. He is preparing a place for you by waging war against evil and darkness and sin and idolatry.

The Greeks loved drama. They had, basically, two kinds of dramas they would write: tragedies and comedies. The way to tell the difference was in the ending. Tragedies end with a funeral; comedies end with a wedding. You are in a comedy. Live, therefore, in the hope that this story--your story, my story, our story--ends with a wedding.


Preston said...

Rob Bell's version of the story ends with a wedding. The "mainstream" Christian story ends with both... we celebrate at our wedding, somehow blissfully able to ignore the billions of funerals going on all around us.

If the doctrine of eternal torment is true, I believe the most godly attitude is one of despair tempered with hope.

I'm open to the possibility that the mainstream Christian view is the more accurate one. If it is, I know God will surprise us all with an understanding of how it is "good" and "loving" and "just". But maybe, just maybe, that surprise will be that Bell was onto something after all.

andy said...

Preston, you know what's interesting? You. You know what else? These verses:

24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21)

What does he mean, "nations"? Jesus defeated all of his enemies in Revelation 20. Then the Church comes in Revelation 21. And here he talks about nations, as if there are others who don't fit into either category. Whaaa???

Preston said...

Andy -

I have to leave but wanted to jot down my thoughts quickly so I don't forget to do so.

I like your point. What I read in that passage is that even if the "one world government" people are correct, there will never be a successful merging of all world *cultures*. Heaven wouldn't be complete without the rich tapestry that is humanity's ethnic diversity (sorry, couldn't come up with a non-cliche way to phrase that).

Also, the simple concept of "nations" doesn't necessarily imply enemies. Not sure if that's where you were going or not. I assume all the nations -- All the "remaining" nations? All the remaining people from the Rev. 20-decimated nations? -- make up the Church... but I'll re-read Rev. 20 and 21 soon since you've gotten me thinking.

On the other hand, ἐθνῶν (nations) could also be translated "Gentiles"... so he could be talking about the non-Jews joining the Church. But the "kings of the earth" part makes me think they got the translation right, since a single all-encompassing group "Gentiles" wouldn't have a need for multiple kings.

Again, this is a little rough around the edges (and devoid of any actual research), but didn't want to forget to reply. :-)


Jennifer said...

Isn't "the nations" just a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel?