Over the past 3 decades of my ministry, I’ve performed some 80 weddings, and done so in a number of different locations and scenarios. I’ve found myself officiating ceremonies in cathedrals, churches, chapels, at country clubs, on the beach, overlooking golf courses, and even in the middle of the woods.
Although the venues and creative elements of those weddings have varied, some things remain constant. The message and vows I use are similar from one wedding to the next. And, of course, there is always a groom and bride standing before me. However, I’m sure you’ve noticed that men and women prepare for weddings in different ways.
For the guy, he’s typically happy just to be able to say he showed up on time with a pulse. But for the woman, it’s another story altogether. She spends months in preparation, meetings, going on shopping trips, and doing strategic, creative planning.
And yet, even during the stress and sometimes chaotic moments leading up to that special day, there yet remains an exuberant expectation within the heart of the bride. Her calendar bears the X-marks as she excitedly counts down the days. She has dreamed of this all her life.
She. Can’t. Wait.
I believe, as Christians today, we have lost that spirit of expectation regarding the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride. Our anticipation has waned as we wait for our Bridegroom’s arrival.
And that has to change.
The good news though, is that as you travel throughout the mind-blowing, apocalyptic vision found in Revelation, a natural spirit of expectancy rises in your heart. Jesus’ Revelation was meant to produce in us a deep longing for His return. Our first-century brothers and sisters expected their Lord to return at any moment, and were daily “looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). And so must we.
But how exactly do we recapture that spirit of expectation? How do we reclaim that ancient anticipation our spiritual ancestors had? The key, Jesus says, is for today’s believers to “wake up” (Revelation 3:2). Our Savior places a high value on His Bride being watchful, ready, and awake in these last days. I mean, who wants to be asleep on their wedding day, right?
In order to understand how to live in the present and prepare ourselves for what’s coming, we as the church must first know who we are and where we’ve come from. Studying Revelation 2 and 3 can help us do just that.
In these two short chapters, we discover that Jesus was deeply concerned about the state of His church at the close of the first century. And for good reason. On the whole, her condition was not good. She had gone missing, spiritually. And Jesus wanted her back.
The church today is still His bride, and He loves her very much. And through His evaluation of first-century churches, we see a mirror image of ourselves and where we too fall short of His beautiful blueprint. More importantly, we understand how we can be a part of the solution in helping His church return to the original power and vision that changed history. And in doing so, we effectively prepare ourselves to meet our now-glorified Bridegroom.