What the Bride Saw
Text: Colossians 3:6-17
Introduction: There are times in your life when who you are changes, when the identity you once possessed transforms into a new identity of sorts. In almost every case that happens because of your relationship to another person. There’s a change in identity when a person marries, when they choose to enter into the bonds of marriage and they are no longer a single person but are now bound to another. There’s an identity change when you first become a parent, when the words Dad or Mom first apply to you. We know that who you are inside as a person is still there but there is this very real shift of how you not only now see yourself but also of what that now means about how you are to live. In both of these examples it was the connection of relationship to others that triggered the change, shaped the change and then brought it into being. This morning I’d like to share with you a sermon called, ‘What the Bride Saw’, it refers to the recognition she has that something is about to transform her world, her life, her being. You are familiar with how the church is often referred to as the Bride of Christ, referring to the close union between Jesus and those who have their faith in Him as their Saviour. This morning we are going to look at the encouragements of Paul to the Bride, the Church, helping her to see the change that is already happening in her as the result of her relationship with the One who has laid down His life for her. Turn with me to Colossians 3:6-17.
I. What the Bride Saw Was That She Is No Longer Who She Was.
Paul hopes that this little church in Colossae would remember that she too is the church, the bride of Christ. She too has changed because of who she is now united to, she is no longer who she once was as a people tangled up in fornication, evil desire, covetousness and idolatry. Paul reminds them, “ Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” He means they are no longer obstinate in their beliefs and actions against God, that’s what that word ‘disobedience’ really means, a persistent resistance to God. The cost of that willful rejection is that the wrath of God is coming upon them. Although this seems to have a future tense to it as it points to a Day of Judgment, the actual word. ‘coming’ is a present tense word. It points to the way sin will draw a cause and effect reaction from a holy God. It isn’t a matter of God being vindictive or mean spirited, wrath is the reaction of holiness against sin. It’s like the way lightning will striking the highest point that is grounded. Lightning is governed by the laws of energy, the wrath of God is governed by the Law of Holiness. It’s what Paul was talking about in Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” When sin entered the world then also did death. If there is nothing done to remove sin, death in all its forms will be the result. There is a wrath of God that will come upon those who obstinately resist the truth of who Jesus Christ is. The Colossians had once been people who were disobedient, obstinate, but now were saved by grace. They are now the bride of Christ, they can see that they are now no longer who they were. As such they are to put off certain things. That term ‘put off’ means to take off some coat or shirt and then to throw it away from you as that which is filthy, smelly, ruined and beyond repair. The thing they are to put off is called their ‘old man’, the person they used to be before becoming the Bride. That person was characterized by a selfish way of seeking life. They are to put off, “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language…do not lie to one another…”. That’s who you once were when the law of sin and death reigned in you, but now the law of the Spirit of Christ has set you free from that. We are to, “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” To be renewed is to be changed in a way that makes me begin to resemble Christ, to begin to not only resemble Him in my actions but also in my motivation and belief. Clearly this is saying that what the Bride of Christ saw was that she is no longer who she was.
II. What the Bride Saw Was the Future That Her Husband’s Love Offered.
Years ago, a large statue of Christ was erected high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. Called "Christ of the Andes," the statue symbolizes a pledge between the two countries that as long as the statue stands, there will be peace between Chile and Argentina. Shortly after the statue was erected, the Chileans began to protest that they had been slighted -- the statue had its back turned to Chile. But a quick thinking news reporter wrote an editorial that seemed make the people of Chile feel better. It simply said, "The people of Argentina need more watching over than the Chileans.” The future that the world sees is one where there is continual competition, division and difference. What Paul saw and what the Bride saw was a future where there was an inner unity that conquers all outer diversity, “where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” What do you think it means when it says ‘Christ is all’? I think it’s referring to the way our hearts are absolutely satisfied in Christ. When my heart is absolutely satisfied as to feeling significant, to my sense of belonging, to my need to be secure and loved and the exact same thing is happening in you then Christ is all in all, He becomes your all in all. That is the future that the Husband ‘s love offers to His Bride. “Therefore, as theelect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Does a husband choose his wife, does he choose whom he wants to offer his future life to? That would be what the term elect refers to. He has chosen us, when we were still being obstinate, He chose us. Therefore, says Paul, let the Bride choose Him by putting on the new person He has caused be in you. What that new you will look like closely resembles what Christ look s like. Tender mercies, a sensitivity to others that calls you to give of yourself for them; Kindness, often translated as integrity or moral goodness, that’s where being kind comes from; Humility, literally it’s defined as, ‘a deep sense of one's moral littleness but what it then calls for is a placing of your confidence then in the right place, in Christ; Meekness, being gentle in spirit and action; Longsuffering, a patience and perseverance especially when you are being wronged in some way; Forgiveness, the willingness to extend and seek an absolute cancellation of what is owed relationally. Do you see how all of these are traits of Christ, how all of these traits in you and I is what Christ being all in all means? The future both earthly and heavenly that this brings is what the Bride saw.
III. What the Bride Saw Is That Her Love For Christ Is Where Peace Rules.
Above all that has been said thus far is the call to put on love which is the bond of perfection. Love is like the ligaments that hold one bone to another, keeping them in alignment, enabling them to function. Love is the ligament in your relationship with each other and especially in your relationship with the Groom, Jesus Christ. Here’s the amazing part, you put on love like a Bride puts on her wedding dress. It is an evident symbol and adornment. It represents her bond of purity to her husband, to love him and he her in a way that serves the other always. The word that Paul uses for ‘love’ here is ‘agape’. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “Agape is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship.Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking. Agape love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men.” It’s in this kind of love that the Bride has for Christ that real peace gains an access to our hearts both as individuals and as societies. It’s why Paul concludes by saying this, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” There can be no peace unless there is first agape love, the love that seeks to understand, to be creative in serving, to be redemptive in motivation with the well being of the other in view. What the Bride saw was that her love for Christ is where peace first enters her own heart and then the hearts of others. What the Bride saw is that the love of her Saviour for her is perfect agape, by it He has established peace through His blood, through His giving of Himself bringing understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill to mankind on earth. We are called to peace and then we are called to be thankful, for this is not the natural way of man. It is extraordinary, we are called to be extraordinary people, holy people.
What the Bride Saw Was That She Is No Longer Who She Was.
What the Bride Saw Was the Future That Her Husband’s Love Offered.
What the Bride Saw Is That Her Love For Christ Is Where Peace Rules.