Feasting on the Tree of Life

Bread for the Bride will be inactive for a couple of weeks while I take a short break away from home, but here is one from the archives I hope will bless you in the meantime!


alberoLike an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

(Song of Songs 2:3)

Come with me to a garden, a magnificent garden where it seems every plant, tree and creature radiates intense life.  In the middle of this vast garden a woman leans to pluck the fruit of a splendid looking tree that towers over all the other plants. Tentatively, she tastes the fruit, and seeing her obvious delight the man with her also tastes.  Their enchantment with the tree is short lived, however.  Soon the woman discovers she has been deceived and the man realizes he has crossed a deadly line that is irreversible.  Now they perceive everything in the garden, and each other, in a different way.  No longer do they think and act in unison, their differences begin to define them.  No longer do they live to please the other, instead their focus shifts to their own individual desires.  The tree that seemed to them so resplendent with promise has become their death sentence, and the death sentence of all their future offspring.   From now on the man will struggle against the earth for his own survival, blaming the woman for his predicament, subjecting her to his control by means of his physical strength.  The woman will learn to distrust the man and will devise her own means of surviving alongside him.

Now come again to the same magnificent garden.  See another woman leaning towards a most majestic Tree.  She tastes and finds the taste good indeed.  So good, in fact, she hungers for more.  As she eats of the Tree she finds herself increasingly entwined in its fruitful branches.  So delightful to her is the fruit of this Tree she soon discovers she has lost all desire for any other food or nourishment.   The Tree in turn embraces her, drawing her further, deeper into its glorious interior.  Its captivating fragrance is all around her, its fruit nurtures and sustains her, and its boughs shelter her.  The Tree has become everything to her.  The Tree has become her Life.

Most of us are familiar with the first scene. It describes the first man Adam, the first woman, and their spectacular fall from grace.  I shall not refer to the woman as Eve, for the first name given to her was Ishshah, or ‘woman’ (Gen. 2:23).  Her name did not become “Eve, mother of all living”, until after the fall.  The tree from which woman and Adam ate was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which ultimately leads to death. 

The second scene centers on the Tree of Life, which is Jesus Christ.  And the woman?  The woman is His Bride, of whom Ishshah was a mere shadow and type.  The New Testament teaches that Christ is the last Adam, and that the first man, Adam, was a type, or shadow, of the second Man, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:45-47).   Seldom do we consider that the first Adam had a bride, and that she too was a type or shadow of the multi-membered ‘woman’ who would become the last Adam’s immaculate bride.  This spiritual Bride is a glorious mystery hidden within the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation.

So abundant with everlasting life was the Tree of Life that God installed cherubim and a flaming sword to prevent Adam and his bride from partaking of it in their fallen state (Gen. 3:24)).  The tree from which the first Adam and his bride ate looked, smelled and at first tasted like life to them, but in reality was death.  For Adam and his wife to eat from the Tree of Life after their fall into sin would have meant their bodies would never have died.  There would have been a race of human beings on the earth who would sink further and further into the depths of sin, increasing in numbers, but living in immortal bodies that never succumbed to natural death as we now know it.  Every kind of evil imaginable and unimaginable would plague this immortal race.  The consequences are too horrible to contemplate.  God, in His infinite mercy, removed mankind from the presence of the Tree of Life.

In and by the Spirit of God, a spiritual woman is being raised up on the earth who, unlike her natural predecessor,  is rejecting the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and is choosing the Tree of Life.  She has turned her back on the tree that tastes good to the natural senses, is pleasant to the eyes, and promises to make her wise.  She has tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Life and having tasted has understood nothing else can ever satisfy her.  To this woman, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or “the world” as it is better known, becomes increasingly less appealing with each passing hour.  She understands well that the two trees cannot be mixed.  One must feast on one or the other, but not both.  Those who choose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil will find the fruit from the Tree of Life totally inedible.  Those who feast on the Tree of Life will find the fruit from the other tree bitter and detestable. 

At a time of His own choosing in the course of human history God again presented the Tree of Life to humanity.  In the garden the Tree had represented Christ.  On earth, Christ came to offer Himself once again to mankind as the Tree of Life.  Man had chosen death over life.  Christ was sent by the Father to again offer humanity a choice.  A tree was raised up on the sin ravaged soil of the earth, in its very midst.  On that tree was nailed a Man, the last Adam, who Himself was Life incarnate.  In His willingness to provide the spiritual nourishment for which humanity craved, His flesh was torn and His blood spilled into the earth.  The Tree of Life rejected by humankind long ago in a magnificent garden became manifest once more in the midst of the fallen race of man.

 “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no Life in you” he had said.  “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”  Such graphic language offended most who heard, and still does.  What do you do with a statement like that?  You either write it off as the ramblings of a mad man or humbly admit there is something here you do not yet understand and follow.

The Tree of Life still stands in the midst of the earth offering to share its fruit of endless, abundant God-breathed Life to humanity. Its access is no longer blocked by cherubim or a flaming sword.  All who wish to eat may taste freely and live.

And within its towering branches a mysterious woman abides, never to leave its shelter, never to crave for any nourishment except that which it provides for her, never to shift her eyes away from its incomparable beauty.  She is coming home.

 © Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2013

Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet forums, unedited, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission. 

So You Want To Be A Lover

Catching red Valentines hearts with word LOVE printed.Rumour has it I’m pretty much a failure when it comes to loving the brethren. If you like your dollops of Christian love handed over with bear hugs, chatty phone calls and affectionate enquiries about every tiny corner of your life, I may as well warn you now I’m not the one you’re looking for.   Pass me by and move on to those with the gift of “genial and demonstrative” who’ll be waiting for you with open arms. I’m simply not one of them. Call me aloof and antisocial (as some have done, not always out loud), those kind of outward expressions of affection don’t come naturally to me. I’m one of those solitary people who prefer to sit hidden away unobtrusively in the corner of a crowded room, quietly observing.

I think The Supremes were on to something in their nineteen sixties hit You Can’t Hurry Love: “You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait, love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take; You can’t hurry love, no you just have to wait, you got to trust, give it time, no matter how long it takes.” It’s a little known fact the song actually was based on an earlier gospel song by Dorothy Love Coates in which the words were: “You can’t hurry God, you just have to wait, trust and give Him time, no matter how long it takes”.

And while we’re on the subject I don’t think I can bear hearing one more time: “we just have to love each other more to be more like Jesus”; or “love’s not optional you know”; or how about this gem – “love’s what we do, not feel”.

But the undisputed fact is Christ called us to be lovers of each other and humanity in general. He apparently had so much confidence in us He said the world would recognise Him by our love for one another (Jn. 13:35). Hmmm…did you get that? The world will recognise HIM by something that’s in us. Somehow we’ve changed that to “the world will recognise us as Christians when we love like Jesus. Therefore we should work really hard at loving each other so we can prove Jesus was telling the truth about us and maybe then others will want to follow us into following Him.”

Huh? Seems to me we’ve done our usual trick of placing ourselves centre stage when it comes to walking out this love thing.

I tried hard to fit into that ‘work hard at loving to prove Jesus knew what He was talking about” scene for a long time…..really, a  l-o-n-g  time. The revelation that I simply could not love at will, or love enough, or love like He loves, didn’t come with thunder and lightning. But it did come, softly, gradually, with the still small Voice of the Spirit whispering, ‘when will you wake up to the truth that you can’t love others like Jesus, no matter how hard you work at it, because it’s not in you to do so?’

That was love lesson number one. Human love, as beautiful and encompassing as it may be, is limited. It is limited because we are, in our natural state, corrupted beings. And what we are inadvertently trying to do by proving that we can love like Jesus is, well, prove that we can love like Jesus. It becomes not about Him, but us. It becomes law.

Love lesson number two began to unfold one day when the Lord asked me with His usual directness: “Why don’t you receive My love?”

“What do You mean? You know I love You Lord.”

“That’s not what I asked you. Why don’t you receive My love?”

“But I do believe You love me. After all, You died for me.”

“Yes, you believe it. But you don’t know it. You don’t know it because You refuse to receive it. You don’t allow Me to love you as I wish to.” (1 John 4:16).

Christian tradition had taught me to ask the wrong question and come up with the wrong answer. In the face of a religion that said I should strive to love others more, one conversation with Jesus turned my love theology on its head. He wasn’t concerned about how much I loved others. He was concerned about how much I didn’t know He loved me.

We each arrive at the truth of the gospel hauling the image of ourselves the world has stamped on us. We sit beneath the cross and drink from the cup of salvation, thankful to have found respite and rescue. We love Jesus, who first loved us, and we set out to follow Him faithfully. But we still carry that image in our mind’s eye with which the world has branded us: we are too fat, too thin, too dumb, too tarnished, too bad, too ugly, too unacceptable, too sinful, too damaged, too whatever, to ever be lovable. Then religion steps in with its long arm of the law, telling us God loves us but will find us infinitely more lovable if we just get better at this, that or the other thing. And so the pattern is set.

The truth is Jesus never ever loved us because we were good at anything. He loves us because He is so good at loving.

I’m still in love school. I’m still on my LL (lover in learning) plates when it comes to fulfilling Jesus words in John 13:35. I’m learning I don’t have to prove I’m a Christ follower by loving you, but Christ in me will love you. I’m discovering I don’t have to work at loving, but as I abide in Love Himself the love that pours into me flows naturally outward. It may not look the way you, caught up in your religion, think it should look. But hey, that’s OK, I’ll love you anyway and maybe one day you’ll catch on.

I’m learning that loving like Jesus means the love of Christ compels me (2 Cor. 5:14)….. in everything. I’m learning to walk in love by walking continually in the presence of the One who is Love. I’m learning that the key to this love dilemma is allowing Him to love me because, regardless of how I or others see me, He finds me exceedingly lovable.  He finds me lovable not in a cute, warm and fuzzy sense, but in a strong, fervent, impassioned sense that leaves me unable to resist loving Him back with all my wondering being.

So you want to be a lover? You will never be a lover after Christ’s heart without first being a receiver of Christ’s heart for you. You will never give love until you know Love. You will never radiate love until you have surrendered to Love and allowed Him to possess you. You will never be able to love without limitation until you yourself have been healed of your own ‘unlovableness’. You have to take ownership of Love before it can flow unhindered from you.

The awakening bride of Christ is a company of lovers who love just because they are loved; a company learning to dance their love dance like unashamed children in the delighted presence of Him whose Name is Love.

No, love don’t come easy…..but it’s free for the taking. Oh, and by the way, did I mention He’s simply mad about me?

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Featured Poem for October: Lethal Stones

Stephen, a martyr for Christ

There was no shortage

Of lethal stones

The day they dragged their victim

To his untimely death

Each one strategically aimed

To inflict maximum effect

His face like an angel, they say,

Which are words we use

To explain

What cannot be explained:

Carried in God’s own embrace

Stephen finished well his race

 

There is still no shortage

Of lethal stones….

So many treading Stephen’s path

Which is the path You chose

And multitudes since then have trod

He was the first, we are the last

Like sheep for the slaughter

Filling up Your afflictions

Dying in body and broken in heart

And who, apart from You, heard Stephen’s cries?

How many hear the echoes now

Of those who cry, and bleed, and die?

 

Are our ears stopped and our eyes blind?

That our brethren’s pain is so removed

From our closed and cloistered minds?

Is this not Your Body, Lord,

Of which we are a living part?

Or have we numbed and shut our hearts

Denying that their suffering is Yours

Or ours?

And dare we in our most honest hour

Perceive the lethal stones that wait

For us

Who think that we are safe?

 

There is no shortage

Of lethal stones or lying tongues

Or bombs or knives or ready guns

But neither is there any lack

Of faithful witnesses to Your Name

Thousands on thousands of faith-filled Stephens

Passing now through history’s pages

Entering Your eager embrace

Angelic glory on every face

And in the end the stones will cease

But, written in the books of time

Their ageless witness still will shine

 

There are not enough stones

In all the earth

Or within hell’s dark recesses

To halt the march of witnesses

Or silence their unwelcome words

And if by some impossibility

Your witnesses could not be found

There will be no shortage

Of rocks and stones that will themselves arise

And raise their testimony loud

That though God offered up His Life

Men loved darkness more than Light

 

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

2 Cor. 1:5

 

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

 

 

 

When Jesus Isn’t Enough

Justice Scale

The young pastor peered intensely at me through searching brown eyes, trying hard to articulate his dilemma. “Tell me, please tell me, how can I move my ministry into these wonderful things that have been promised to me and that I so desire? I believe you can instruct me in this.”

Sitting across the table from me was a Kenyan ‘man of God’ as male pastors are often called in Africa.  I recognised him as a delegate at the conference I had spoken at earlier that day. Tall, good looking, with flashing eyes and obvious determination of character, he definitely projected a deep sense of focused conviction. As I observed him and listened to him pour out his questions it was obvious he was spiritually gifted with leadership abilities. It was equally obvious he was determined nothing would stand in the way of achieving his dreams.

The conversation thus far had gone something like this:

He: “Mum* I believe you can help me achieve the next part of my ministry for God.”

Me: “How’s that?”

He: “I listened to you today and that is why I am here. I need to know how to move into the signs and wonders that God wants me to perform for Him.”

Me: “Why? And why do you think I could help you with that?”

He: “Because it has been prophesied over me by a great man of God, a true apostle of the Lord, that I will have a wonderful ministry of signs and wonders, healings and miracles. I believe I am ready for this and I believe the Holy Spirit has told me to speak to you about it.”

Me: (thinking Lord I’d really appreciate it if I could have a little forewarning on these things….just occasionally, You know?)   “He has?”

He, (apparently concerned at the blank look on my face): “I think about nothing else, day and night. I feel I will almost die if I don’t fulfil these things that have been promised. Already I have planted and overseen many churches, but I am so hungry for the greater works of God. Tell me, what must I do to make this happen, mum?”

It was, thankfully, at this moment the Holy Spirit graciously equipped me with His answer.

“And if it should be that you have to wait for this thing that you desire, or if it should never be granted to you, will Jesus be enough for you?”

He looked back at me as if I’d just broken into some strange foreign language he’d never heard and couldn’t follow.

“What do you mean?” he asked, not sounding at all sure he wanted an answer.

“Exactly as I said: Is Jesus enough for you, no matter what happens in your life or your ministry? I cannot tell you how to perform signs and wonders, because I don’t know. I can only present you with what I consider to be the more pressing issue. If you never achieve signs and wonders, will Jesus Christ be enough for you?”

I waited, desperately wanting him, willing him even, to answer in the affirmative. I longed to see those intense, questioning eyes illuminated with sudden Light; everything within me ached to hear the words: “Yes, mum, I understand, and yes, He will always be enough, no matter what.”

But it didn’t happen as I so fervently hoped that day.

We parted soon after that – he disappointed in my response, me heartbroken at his inability to comprehend the question I’d asked. It was 2005 and I was on my third ministry trip to East Africa – so long ago now it feels. But I still sometimes stop what I’m doing to think of that zealous, young, African pastor and the many like him I have met before and since. I can’t remember him without tears. And I wonder where he is and what he’s doing now.

A similar young man approached Jesus one day, asking ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. He too was intense, determined and confident in his ability to handle any answer he might be given, and “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” “Sell whatever you have and give to the poor. And take up your cross and follow Me!” Jesus replied. And then the gospel of Mark simply records this profound statement:

“But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-23)

Jesus, looking at my young friend that day as we drank tea in a café in remote Western Kenya, loved him….greatly. This I know beyond doubt. But as Jesus in Himself was not enough for the wealthy, young Israelite, neither was Jesus in Himself enough for the charismatic young African. It could be said of him: “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great ambition.”

The gospel is so much simpler than we imagine it. It is simply Jesus, in His sufficiency, filling us, sustaining us, satisfying us. He longs to do that. He longs to be our all in all. But we build into our Christian theology so many optional extras that our Christ following becomes more ‘Jesus Plus’ than Jesus, just Jesus. The pluses we add in don’t have to be as grand and spectacular as the signs and wonders that consumed the heart of my young friend. We can be just as equally consumed with Jesus plus ministry, Jesus plus family, Jesus plus career, Jesus plus my book being published, Jesus plus finding a marriage partner, Jesus plus an easy, comfortable life. Please feel free to fill in the blanks here.

It‘s not wrong to desire these things, but we can build things into our walk with Christ that unconsciously consume us more than He does. Inevitably these ‘add ons’ become serious stumbling blocks. In time we will find out, often painfully, that none of these additions, if and when achieved, actually fulfil us as we had blindly assumed they would.

I have been as guilty of furnishing my life with these ‘add ons’ as anybody else, especially in my younger discipleship days. But as my journey with Christ continues I find myself increasingly brought back to the directness of that simple but profound question: “Is Jesus enough for me?” If this thing I had hoped for, or that thing that I had assumed, or this other thing that I planned, does not come to pass, will I be satisfied with Jesus, and Him alone? Will the fullness of the One who fills all in all, fill me, satisfy me and fulfil me more than anything I hoped, planned or dreamed could ever do?

I believe the answer is yes, and I believe He will prove Himself to be much more than enough, if we are willing for it. There are empty, aching places in us, spaces the world had promised to satisfy and fulfil, but the promises were lies. So we find ourselves still searching, still hungry, still scanning the horizon for whatever it is that will fill us up and fully satisfy our longing souls.

I am learning to surrender those empty places to Jesus, asking Him to pour Himself in and fill them to the brim. I am asking Him to be my sufficiency, my very great reward, my all in all, even more deeply than I may have known in the past. To allow Him to do that takes some painful letting go of some lifelong dreams; it takes prizing off my hands from some hopes I had held very tightly; it requires some re-evaluating of some privileges I had assumed were my birthright.

Trusting Jesus to be our ‘enough’ may mean even greater depths of surrender from those who have already surrendered all. So I leave you with the very same question I left with the young pastor.

If that thing you’ve been holding so tightly to never happens, will Jesus, just Jesus, be enough?

Please don’t answer hastily – it’s highly probable there’ll be a test on this.

 

*‘Mum’ is commonly used in Africa respectfully as a form of address to an older woman, especially a teacher or leader.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

From The Archives: Where Do You Live?

White Rose

Ladies, gentlemen, young people, please fasten your seat belts as we make our final ascent to our destination. As you disembark please take a few moments for your eyesight to adjust to the brightness, which is due to the total lack of darkness in your new host country.

To assist you in settling comfortably into your new surroundings we have compiled some vital information you will need to negotiate the unfamiliar terrain successfully. We recommend you read carefully, making whatever changes are necessary to your belief system.

Welcome to the Kingdom!

Things You Should Know About Your New Place of Residence

Founder: Father

Monarch: The Lamb, King of Kings, Lord of Lords

Ministry of the Environment: Spirit of God

Geographical Location: At hand

Size: Same as a mustard seed

Entry Visa: Repentance

Cost of Visa: Already paid

Passport: Blood of the Lamb

System of Law: Love

Citizenship: Free

Nationality: Royal Priesthood

Government: All who do not wish to govern

Language: Truth

Currency: Faith

History: In the beginning was the Word

Topography: Peace

Time Zone: Eternity

People groups: Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Health Service: What’s that?

Social Service: Justice and Mercy

Climate: Joy unspeakable and full of glory

Culture: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control

Military Policy: Love your enemies

Food: Living Word

Dress Code: Humility

Main Industry: Worship of the Living God

Honorory Citizens: The foolish, weak, base and despised

Exports: Mercy, Grace, Righteousness

Imports: All who are thirsty

Attractions: Wooden Cross, Empty Tomb

Where are you living?

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. Heb. 11:13-14

For our citizenship is in Heaven Phl. 3:20

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Your Help Needed!

Conceptional chalk drawing - Help neededFriends,

Two weeks ago Bread for the Bride launched a sister blogsite, Ishshah’s Story.  You can read the post announcing this here.

I realise this will be of significance to some of you, and to others it will be of little more than passing interest.  That’s fine.  The issues we are addressing on Ishshah’s Story and the vision we share there will obviously be of more importance to some than others, and let’s face it, we all need to prioritise what comes into our inboxes these days!

However, whether you wish to follow Ishshah’s Story or otherwise, I am appealing for your help in letting others know about it who may find it’s vision and purpose relevant.   There may well be people within your spheres of influence who would love to be part of, or even need to be part of,  what we are attempting to do at Ishshah’s Story.  Would you please help us spread the word about the new Ishshah’s Story blogsite by passing on the information about it to others in your personal and ministry networks?

Bread for the Bride enjoys a regularly increasing number of followers and supporters.  I believe, and hope, this is because you find the posts here Christ-centred, edifying and spiritually uplifting.  We are focusing on achieving the same depth of quality with Ishshah’s Story.

So, whether you are male or female, please consider assisting us in getting the word out about Ishshah’s Story.  Better still, we would love to have your comments, your feedback, your company and/or your contributions at the Ishshah’s Story blogsite.  And remember, it is not a ‘women only’ site and males who have a heart to advocate alongside us for women’s encouragement and equality in all aspects of church life are more than welcome.

Thankyou for your support of Bread for the Bride and in anticipation of continued fellowship,

Cheryl McGrath

Endless Life

redhill sunsetEternal life is so much more than a vague never ending timeline of Heavenly ‘happy ever after’ waiting for us after this life finishes. This thing we commonly call ‘eternity’ cannot be adequately measured within the framework of any human definition. Eternal life is essentially the supernatural, abundant, endless, pure life of Christ into which His Bride has already entered. Eternal life even now manifests in those whose temporal, earthly lives are being crucified to make way for the fullness of His endless Life through the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 7:16). This hoped for everlasting life we so often refer to is in reality the vast width, depth, length and height of the knowledge of Christ in all His immeasurable fullness (John 17:3; Eph. 3:18,19).

This boundless, immense fullness of Christ was poured out in creation as pure and abundant Life, for “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible….and by Him all things consist….for it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell.” (Col. 1:16-19) From that outpouring of the fullness of pure Christ-Life every living creature that ever has been, or is, or will be, received a measure of life, for “of His fullness we have all received” (John 1:16).

The source of all life and breath is God (Acts 17:25). The arrogant atheist who scoffs at the existence of God, the liberal theologian who denies Christ’s divinity, the unbelieving mocker who curses His Name, the blasphemers, the humanists, the lovers of sin, the satanists – all live and breathe only by the immeasurable Life of Christ that was poured abundantly into creation. Every tongue that mocks, derides or rejects Christ Jesus functions only as long as it has life, and that very life was received out of Christ’s limitless fullness. In Christ alone the pure, eternal Life of God came to dwell fully in human flesh. The endless, incorruptible Life that entered the world in Him is the Light of all humanity (John 1:4)

Christ is that great Tree of Life on which humanity was originally commanded to nourish itself. He is the supreme and absolute expression of the pure, uncorrupted, ever flowing Life of God. And that Life, that purest expression of eternal, endless Life, willingly came into the world to bring light into the spiritual darkness of fallen humanity. John the apostle witnessed that Life in the flesh and by the Spirit was given to understand the fullness of this endless Life present in Christ. Many years later John wrote of the wonder of what he had witnessed:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you…..” (1 John 1:1-3)

It is into this endless depth and fullness of eternal Christ-Life that His bridal company of crucified followers is journeying (Eph. 4:13).

What does this fullness of the stature of Christ look like? Light! It looks like light, but true light, not the false light of this world.

In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” The world is not in darkness, the world is darkness. When Christ walked the earth He was the world’s only true light (John 9:5). Since His bodily departure the Life of Christ dwelling now in His Bride penetrates the darkness and the darkness does not, cannot, consume it. This fullness of Christ, His endless Life, bursts through the surrounding spiritual darkness as pure, piercing light into the souls and minds of fallen humanity, both in word and in deed.

Don’t look for this Christ-Life in the outward appearance of people or institutions. Jesus, in whom the fullness and power of endless Life dwelt bodily, was unremarkable in appearance. John the Baptist did not recognize Jesus among the crowd until the Spirit of God revealed Him (John 1:33). Judas had to embrace Jesus in order for the authorities to differentiate Him from His disciples (Mat. 14:44). Christ’s endless Life was not something that was apparent in the flesh, in the way He walked, spoke or appeared. Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, Jesus was not tall, athletic, blue eyed and drop dead gorgeous.

The world describes as ‘full of life’ those who are energetic and busy, or those who attract people with their vibrant, bubbly personalities. This kind of ‘life’ is external and carnal. In the same way, Christians often describe churches where the music is upbeat, the congregation active, worship physically expressive and the preaching positive and punchy as ‘full of life’. That may or may not be the case, but beware – the measure of Christ-Life in His Bride is genuine holiness, not an outward appearance of happiness.

The endless, vibrant, pure Life flowing through Christ manifested in His words and His deeds, for in Him grace and truth came together (John 1:14,17). The world already had truth encoded by letter in the Law handed down to Moses, but divine grace mixed with divine truth had not been seen by fallen humanity until Christ came. This same combination of grace and truth will be evident in all who are surrendered vessels to His endless Life.

We need to understand that those who do not have Christ are already spiritually dead. The fullness of His Life will increasingly flow from His bridal company as it flowed from Him, to those who do not know that Life. His endless Life will manifest as spiritual light, piercing the world’s darkness and revealing Christ. This light is not seen with the eyes, but has power to awaken the human spirit. Some in the world will welcome this light and others will despise it, for there are many who love darkness more than light (John 3:19).

The endless Christ-Life that is the light of humanity resides within each member of His rising Bridal company. Outwardly this Bride may individually be dark or fair, young or old, physically strong or weak or disabled – it is irrelevant. The light that this corporate Bride brings into the darkness, this true Light, is Life Himself. The overflowing, abundant fullness of Christ’s stature, the power of His endless Life, is displayed in the beautiful brokenness of His overcoming Bride. She, like Him, is the Light of the world.

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.