This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on August 21 2016. The series of posts ‘Diagnosing Spiritual Health’ is drawn from Donald Whitney’s book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Navpress, 2001).
The biblical metaphor of the church as a ‘bride’ is a rather awkward one (cf. Rev. 19:6-8; 2 Cor. 11:2-3; Eph. 5:25-27). As a male the idea of being likened to a bride does not thrill me the slightest. However, the thing about metaphors is that they are used to highlight a particular aspect of the illustration – not everything! So in the case of the church being likened to a bride what is in view is her purity and faithfulness, which should be reflected in Christians’ devotion to Christ above all else.
Our regard for others who share this devotion to Jesus is another way to test spiritual health. We easily make friends with some Christians, but do we delight in the rest? Or do we simply tolerate them? The degree in which we willingly take pleasure in the company of Christ’s people – particularly the ones we wouldn’t normally spend time with – is a measure of our spiritual maturity. Like the Old Testament king David, can we see in the ordinary ‘saints’ of the land that they are “excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3). Like the Apostle Paul can we see that even such a troublesome group of Christians as those in Corinth are still a cause for rejoicing (cf. 1Cor 16:17, 18, 24).
Has the Spirit changed you so you can see in all other Christians what the world cannot? That they are the delight of God himself and the bearers of the precious and glorious light of the gospel (cf. Ps. 149:4; 2 Cor. 4:7)? Make it an aim to see this and learn to take delight in the bride of Christ.