And The Spirit And The Bride Say, Come

Earlier this evening, as I write this, I received a question from a friend of mine who belongs to a Church of God in her native New Zealand. She had an interaction with a couple of people who belong to another Church of God that appears to have some sort of doctrines about a Mother God that I am unfamiliar with, and they asked her about her thoughts about a particular scripture. To be sure, there are scriptures that demonstrate that God and Jesus Christ have a care for people that is not only paternal but also maternal. This itself is not surprising at all if we consider that both men and women share in being made in the image and likeness of God, and those qualities of God that are viewed as being feminine are themselves equally a part of His nature as those qualities which are more characteristically masculine. If other places and times have perhaps placed too much emphasis on the manly, surely our own corrupt and evil age has focused too much attention on the supposed sacred feminine as a way for women to feel better about themselves and diminish their own duty and responsibility to honor and obey their husbands and fathers and male authority in general.

With this context, it seems somewhat odd that they would open with a question on Revelation 22:17. Revelation 22:17 reads: “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” This particular verse is part of a larger context that includes an open invitation from Jesus Christ for people to come to faith towards and obedience in God resulting in receiving the gift of eternal life as well as being a part of God’s family. Those who believe in this life are counted as part of the bride of Christ. Revelation speaks at some length about the bride of Christ, as do other authors in the New Testament, and indeed this author has spoken at considerable length elsewhere [1] about the way in which all of humankind is viewed as being in the role of the bride of Christ, the woman, with regards to Christ. If there is something here of giving honor to women by viewing all believers as being part of what is seen as female in comparison to Christ as the husband, this is done in a way that demonstrates how it is that the inequalities that we see on earth between men and women are themselves a model of what exists in heaven.

This is something about which we must be careful, not merely to avoid causing unnecessary offense, but also to be just in what we mean. God has promised that believers, both male and female, will be granted eternal life in the world to come. There is no indication that among these believers there will be any favoritism shown towards those who were men in this life with regards to ruling over more cities or having more power in the world to come. The ways in which people are divided by status here and now will not exist for believers, and this could be discussed (and probably should) at considerable length. Yet at the same time, the inequalities that do exist now are not accidental but reflect eternal and unchanging realities. If believers are to enter into the Kingdom of God and are to be the children of God, and share in the divine nature that God and Jesus Christ do, there will always be an area in which we are not equal to them. God and Jesus Christ have always existed, and we all had a beginning. God and Jesus Christ had the nature of God within them naturally, while for us this divine nature will be a gift for our faith and obedience. The Bible makes it clear that the divine nature and Godhead is not something that Jesus Christ (much less God the Father) had to strive for, but also that it is something that human beings have to intensely strive for even if it must be a gift that we cannot earn or deserve through our works, even if we cannot get it without such good works.

This leaves us in an interesting conundrum, in that something which may point to the honor given to the church as the bride of Christ simultaneously also brings out the difference between the experience of eternal life for Jesus Christ and that of believers. For Jesus Christ, eternal life and the power of being God were His by right and have always been His, except for when He voluntarily gave them up to experience the life of a human being. For mankind, this has not been the case, and eternal life and the power of being God is not something that we can demand or something that inherently belongs to us, rather it is something given under various conditions. As it happens, these conditions are made plain in Revelation 22:14-15: “ Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.  But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Rather than speaking of some sort of sacred feminine and glorifying a Mother God, these verses in fact demonstrate quite the opposite, that the bride receives eternal life as a gift, while the groom has these things inherently. The honor and obedience that wives owe their husbands is a model of the honor and obedience that we all as human beings owe to Jesus Christ not only now, but for all time. To the extent that inequality exists in human relations, it does not exist to serve the ego of men, but rather to teach eternal truths about the inequality that exists between mankind and God, even when human beings are raised into membership in God’s family. And to the extent that people wish to reverse the biblical picture and its deeper symbolic importance, we demonstrate not our enlightened nature but rather our colossal folly and ignorance and arrogance, none of which will be well-rewarded.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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