The gospel is cruciform, meaning the cross is central to the gospel, and yet the cross must be understood in its place in the redemptive timetable. The cross is essential and central to our faith, but it is the engagement, not the wedding. The church is called to be like a bride longing for the great wedding day. The problem is that, more often than not, the church acts like a married woman occasionally remembering Jesus, when we should be acting like an engaged woman eagerly looking forward to her wedding.
An engaged woman is driven with purpose. She functions in all the aspects of daily life, but she has a single purpose, and that purpose dominates all her decisions and pervades her thinking. For an engaged woman, the wedding is all consuming. Everything in that season of her life must relate to that event or it is neglected. Decisions must be made. Money must be spent. Others must be told. Her entire life is focused on one day and one event. It is the doorway to her desire. The wedding is the entrance into the life she has always longed for. What used to satisfy her no longer does. She is going to be – no she must be – a wife. Nothing less will satisfy the craving of her soul. She must live with that man. Frequent visits are not enough. His voice over the phone is not enough. His love and even his money are not enough. She must have him present with her at all times. She must live in his house. He must be physically with her. Frequent visits are not enough – she must dwell with him.
In contrast, a married woman is settled and content. Her objective has been achieved, and her prize obtained. She remembers her wedding with deep emotion, but it does not dominate her thoughts and drive her decisions the way it once did. This is because the wedding was not the ultimate goal; it was simply the gateway to her desire. She is at rest because she has obtained her prize and achieved her objective – the presence of her bridegroom. What the engaged woman anticipates, the married woman remembers and, while both flow from love, the two emotions are dramatically different.
One of the great tragedies of western Christianity is that we do more remembering about Jesus than anticipating. However, the biblical view is that there is so much more to anticipate about Him then there is to remember. We barely know Him. We have barely perceived His glory. In Paul’s words, we are only seeing through a glass dimly. There is a day we will be face to face with that Man. That should cause our hearts to burn within us.
12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV)
We are not called to be at rest as though we have achieved our objective. We have not. Our objective is to see Him face to face and to dwell with Him forever. The engagement that occurred at the cross is substantial. When we come into biblical conversation it changes our entire lives and floods our hearts with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless the measure of the Spirit we enjoy is a generous engagement ring (Ephesians 1:13-14). It is the guarantee of our inheritance and meant to be enjoyed and cherished, but it is not the promised prize.
We should be the most uncomfortable and driven people on the earth. There is a prize that we do not yet have. There is a day coming and that day is the doorway to how we were made to live. A young woman is made to be married and her wedding launches her into the life she was made for. We are made for God and the day of His appearing launches us into the very thing we were made for. Everything before that day is anticipatory and preparatory. Nothing before that day should not settle our hearts or satisfy our souls. He is our prize and we not yet have Him as we will.
When we live “settled” lives with more remembering Jesus than anticipating, we have lost the hope of the gospel. The hope of the gospel is that we will have Jesus with us forever, not that our lives will continue as they are now. Our hope and our joy is a returning King not only a past Savior. We are like the saints of Hebrews 11:13 who have not yet received the desire of our souls. To live lives of remembrance and not anticipation is to miss the point of the gospel. It causes the church to become lethargic because if our desire is what we already possess than we will not press for more. If we are comfortable now, as though our prize has been obtained, we will not live with focus and desire. We will not spend money, make decisions, and think like an engaged woman. We will think like a married woman. We will remember our Lord and enjoy what we know of Him, but we will not be driven by desire to see Him.
An entire generation has been given over to an eschatology that highlights the trouble of the days ahead rather than the glory of Jesus’ return. Some have gone so far as to think that Satan actually wants the tribulation to begin, because they have been taught that it is Satan and not God who is sovereign over the end of the age. When you believe that Satan wants the tribulation to come you are actually playing into His hands because you will then focus on escaping that terrible day and will do nothing that might provoke it to come. In reality, he dreads that day because it is the day that His reign begins to come to an end and our call is to do everything we can to bring that day to pass.
We are to read the Bible as our wedding checklist. It is our “to do” list, the things that must be accomplished before the wedding. It tells us the nations must sing (Psalm 98; Isaiah 24:14-16; 42:10-13; Malachi 1:11; Romans 15:9-11), every tribe must hear (Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8; Revelation 5:9; 7:9), and Israel must be saved (Romans 11:25-26). Our part is to labor like an engaged woman, to spend our strength to remove obstacles to the wedding day and fulfill the required tasks. Jesus alone will select the day of the wedding, but He has also given us a list of assignments. Let us engage in those assignments eagerly as an anticipating the day of His return. Let’s focus our money, actives, and thoughts through the lens of our future day when we will be joined to Him forever. He is worth it.