Here Comes The Bride (Ros' Blog)
I was looking round the congregation at my church yesterday and thinking what a mixed bunch we are. The youngest present was about two years old, the oldest in his mid-eighties. There were singles, couples and families with children. There were people with physically able bodies and people with physical impairments. There were people who could walk unimpeded and those who relied on sticks or, in my daughter’s case, a wheelchair. There was a highly qualified lawyer and there were people with learning disabilities. There were people with very comfortable incomes and people who struggle hard to make ends meet. Interestingly, there wasn’t much ethnic diversity – but as a church we meet in two separate “hubs”, coming together for a joint meeting once a month, and I know that when we hold our joint meeting there are a variety of different nationalities, languages and ethnicities represented. All in all, we are a very diverse mix.
It’s great, too, that we all have a part to play, and all our contributions are equally valued. Three people had planned yesterday’s service, and each had a part to play, whether leading or speaking. But when something that was said struck a chord with the oldest member of the congregation, he was given the microphone so we could all benefit from his wisdom. When the two year old was running exuberantly around, not being the slightest bit naughty but being very noisy and stressing out his single mum who, after all, takes care of him all day every day without a break, one of the men came and scooped him up in his arms, gave him the attention he needed and played with him – as much an act of worship, to my mind, as anything else that went on that morning. And when my daughter leaned over to me and said, in her customary stage whisper, “Mummy sing ‘He is high and lifted up’,” the worship leader immediately picked up his guitar with the words, “Let’s respond to what Ellen just said,” and began to lead us all in her chosen song.
I grew up in a Christian tradition which laid great emphasis on the individual’s relationship with God and the need to be personally born again. Of course this is an important truth. Our starting place in our spiritual journey is in coming into a personal relationship with God through Jesus, and receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But it struck me, as I looked around that diverse bunch of people yesterday, that Christ lived, died and is coming again for one bride. He is not a polygamist with many spouses, but the husband of His one bride, the church. And so we are much more than a collection of individuals. We are, in some very real way, members of one another. We miss perhaps the crux of what God has planned for this world if we don’t recognise the very corporate nature of our faith, the fact that I am connected to you, and we are in some very real sense, one entity, just as we are one with Jesus through our union with Him. When Paul writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep, be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly” he is perhaps not so much issuing an instruction as writing a description of what it is to be the church, the one bride of the everlasting husband who is Christ.
When our brothers and sisters with physical, sensory or learning disabilities are sidelined and overlooked, when our faithful brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are persecuted, when internet pornography beguiles some of our number into immorality, when others among us live in unalleviated poverty, whatever circumstances wound the Bride of Christ, we don’t simply have a duty to reach out and help; we ourselves are also wounded because we are part of each other and all are affected by what affects each of us. Jesus will return one day for a bride, one entity, who is without spot or blemish. All that we experience here and now is intended to enhance our unity and to draw us closer to our Bridegroom, Jesus, so that when He returns the bride who awaits Him will be a reflection of His own perfection, and not simply a collection of individuals who each have their own relationship with Him, although those individual experiences of intimacy do all, of course, contribute to the love of the bride for her Bridegroom.
If you share Through the Roof’s heart to see disabled Christians taking their place within the bride of Christ, their experiences felt and shared by the rest of the body, why not consider becoming a Roofbreaker and helping your church to ensure that all its members, no matter what their abilities or limitations, play the full part for which God created them? For more details about how you can share in this ministry, follow this link.