I know two young women getting married this summer. They have pretty rings, enjoyed shopping for the dress, had fun at showers, and got the bridal party all lined up. But it’s not enough for them. Pleasant as engagement has been, they want to be married. In fact, they can’t wait. If you asked them to please bump things off just a little longer, they would refuse. They’ve done all the preparations of engagement in order to make the wedding possible. They’ve been promised marriage by men they love, and they aren’t going to take anything less, any later than they have to.
So it’s the marriage that is informing how they think and live right now, not the engagement ring. That piece of jewelry is just an encouragement and symbol of what’s coming. Talk of the proposal or finished plans aren’t what take up their thoughts: it’s the honeymoon and beyond. That’s why packing, paperwork, and countdowns dominate these days.
There would be something seriously wrong with a relationship where the bride—or groom!—was ready to hang out in the relational waiting room any longer than she had to. An engaged person who isn’t focused on the marriage out of love for their fiancé is out of touch, off kilter, and generally not ready for what they’ve gotten into.
But Christians often act like that, don’t we? Too often we’re content and comfortable with our lives. We know that Heaven is coming, but as long as we’re having a good time here, what’s the rush? We don’t really act like the Bride of Christ that Scripture says we are—longing for the Bridegroom’s return. We go to church and hang out on social media and pray before meals and watch lame stuff and read our Bibles and obsess about something in our past and rarely think about death or Christ’s return.
Acting like the Bride we are is going to look different than buying dresses and finding a venue. (Christ does that for the Christian so we don’t have to.) For believers living on this earth it means that forgetting what is behind, we push on towards the goal: the consummation of the second coming. It means realizing that we have been put here for a reason: to get ready for the wedding.
That’s what engagement is for, right? To give the bride (and groom) time to get things together for the wedding and life together. Hence the gift registries and showers and shopping for earthly brides. Hence the means of grace and sanctification and evangelistic opportunities for the Church.
Brides who spend their engagements frittering away time and sort of doing some planning will be embarrassed when the wedding rolls around and the wedding is chaotic and there are no dishes in the new home. Christians who fritter away their time on this earth will have to give a sad account if our engagement was spent preparing for other things more than for His return.
This isn’t works righteousness. Brides don’t do the work of preparing in order to earn love; they already have it. It’s love that motivates them to get ready for the wedding. If we love Christ, let’s start acting like the Bride. He has given us everything we need to prepare for His coming, and has already proved His great love for us. How can we not be excited about meeting Him and motivated to use the tools He’s given us to get ready?