“I have a dream,” proclaimed Martin Luther King, Jr., in his most famous speech as the leader of the civil rights movement.
As a servant of God, I too have a dream! It is to see the Body of Christ changed in such a way that we no longer go to church to be entertained and get what we want. Rather, we go to meet the Living God and understand the purpose He has for our lives and pursue it.
So what is God’s purpose for us? Is it that we pursue great accomplishments, have huge congregations, build fancy facilities and enjoy great entertainment? No, although those things in themselves are not wrong. But I believe God is looking for a Bride.
In his book Destined for the Throne, Paul Billheimer describes how God created everything, seen and unseen, in order to find a Bride for His Son.
God is looking for a people who will seek what He seeks in order to please Him and who will prepare for the day when they will meet the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.
The world around us and much of modern-day Christianity tell us we can do both, please Jesus and ourselves at the same time. They encourage us to live a life of compromise—instead of following Christ’s example, who surrendered to the Father’s will, chose the cross for Himself and asks us to do the same.
When we read in the Gospels what Jesus says regarding discipleship, we realize it is impossible to live for our own wishes and ambitions and at the same time follow in Christ’s footsteps.
Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Christ’s call to us, His Bride, is to be exclusively committed to Him — seek to please Jesus and obey Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
So what is God asking from us, the Bride of Christ? He is asking for an all-out, absolute surrender, not just of our personal life, but of everything with it. It means denying self. That’s far different than denying ourselves things, like food or new clothing, as part of a spiritual exercise.
Denying self means you are no more your own. You take up the cross along with the pain, shame and rejection. It is losing your life for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel. It is surrendering soul, body and all to the Lordship of Christ. It is giving up every right to run your own life, even to the extent of asking Him, “Lord, where shall I go today? What do You want me to say to this person?” It is to be willing, like Abraham who gave up Isaac, the promised son whom he loved.
If we seek to please Jesus, we can no longer measure ourselves by what we see in others, nor can we copy what they practice. Instead, we must look to Jesus and find out what He values and desires for His Bride. God’s Word reveals to us that He wants us to have a character like His and reflect His humility, obedience, love, compassion, holiness and kindness.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
In order for this transformation to take place, we must not only cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but we also must be willing to walk the small and narrow road Jesus talked about. Others around us will be free to live their own dreams and pursue their own goals, but we can no longer join them, for we have found something far more precious to live for. We want to spend every minute of our life on earth getting ready to meet Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom. And we will be ready if we seek to please only God and walk away from the ever-present temptation of our culture that tells us it is OK to compromise.
Jesus is worth all of our love and dying to self. Believe me, in eternity we will never be sorry that we followed Him with a whole heart.
Read how Jonathan and Erica are seeking to please Jesus in their lives.