Community as Discipline: The Bride of Christ

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Hosea 11:4, 8
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 11; Psalm 132-134

Sandy: As my friends and I climbed the pitch-black stairwell of 154 Avenue D to deliver supplies to our neighbors last week, flashlights guided our way and the stench of urine rose in our nostrils. It was my first time to visit the projects of New York City. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Times reported, “Perhaps more so than in any other place in the city, the loss of power for people living in public housing projects forced a return to primal existence. Opened fire hydrants became community wells … Darkness became menacing, a thing to be feared” [1].

Marriage: By the Lord’s command, Hosea married a harlot named Gomer and, although his love made her beautiful, Gomer used her beauty to pursue other men. Yet their marriage was merely a symbol. In this intimate picture, God showed what His relationship with unfaithful Israel was like. First, Israel was an unattractive bride. His first love for her was not a response to her beauty. As Ezekiel said, she was a bloody and dying harlot [2]. Second, Israel was a hateful bride [3]. She was not merely reluctant to marry God; she hated Him and found Him repulsive. Finally, Israel was a dirty bride. He had to bathe her before He married her because she was so filthy [4].

Bride: We sometimes imagine ourselves as a bride that looks like the Upper West Side did during Sandy – clean and somewhat normal. Yet that is not true. We brought nothing to the altar apart from our ugliness, hatred and dirt. Yet Hosea teaches us that it was in this state that God betrothed Himself to us, saying, “I led them with cords of human kindness, with the bands of love … and I bent down and fed them” [5]. Even in our marital unfaithfulness, He says, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? … My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender” [6].

Prayer: Lord, We are lovely because you love us. Apart from your love, we are like the darkest parts of our city after a disaster. In Jesus, however, you entered into our darkness and shined the light of your love into the world. You did not do this because we were worthy, but because you are merciful and great. O Lord, make us a people that recognize our filth before you so that we rejoice in your beautifying love even more. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Cara Buckley and Michael Wilson. “In New York’s Public Housing, Fear Creeps In With the Dark.” The New York Times. 2 November 2012.  |  [2] See Ezekiel 16.  |  [3] We were enemies when Christ died for us. See Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21.  |  [4] See Ephesians 5.  |  [5] Hosea 11:4 ESV  |  [6] Hosea 11:8 ESV

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