Dear Bride of Christ,

Dear Bride,

"I visited one of your assemblies last weekend. During a period of pre-planned praise and worship, a song flashed on the screen about you--Jesus' fiancée. When we came to a line about the Groom returning soon, the assembly let out a cheer. Someone said a few words about Him coming back very shortly, comments that provoked more applause.

That "we are the last generation" before the return of Christ has become almost a matter of faith for the evangelical and especially the charismatic sects into which you are divided. Bookstores are filled with teachings about what the End Times are, predictions of when they will happen, novels about how it will feel to be alive during them. Radio stations crackle with energy when their programs discuss the topic. Traveling "expert" lecturers fan the flames of excitement. Songs on the subject soar with expectation.

What does this joyful preoccupation with the return of Jesus mean? I have to think, as Revelation puts it, that the Spirit is saying "Come."

But, dear Bride, as your friend and brother I am also forced to ask: Do you agree with the Spirit? Do the Spirit and the Bride say "Come"?

Honesty compels me to answer, with a lump in my throat: No. Despite all her talk and emotion about the return of Christ, the Bride is not "speeding His coming." If you truly believe your Groom will be returning any day now, where is the evidence in your life? I know your words. You are totally committed to the idea that He is coming back soon. But if you were totally committed to the Groom, wouldn't you be getting dressed for the wedding?

Please don't be angry with me. I know that Jesus will return for you one day, and I want you to be ready. As part of you, I want to be ready myself! I am not the man Paul was. But my heart beats with his when he wrote you: "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him" (2 Cor. 11:2). So I beg you to hear my words, painful as they may seem. Test them before God, and see if they are faithful to His message for you. For I, too, "am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). Jesus deserves a fiancée who is in love with Him, not just in love with being in love.

That's all it is--being in love with being in love--if a woman can become feverishly excited with thoughts about her wedding day, yet spends comparatively little thought or effort preparing herself for her husband. The Bride Jesus will return for is not to be that sort of woman!

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