THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDE OF CHRIST
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
—Revelation 21:2-4 (NIV)
Iraq is probably the last place in the world you’d expect to find an illustration of the beautiful bride of Christ. Yet on top of a beautiful plateau in the mountains of Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) a group of Arab Christians organized a prayer conference. More than five hundred Christians from all over Iraq, from all kind of churches including twenty local church leaders, came to pray for unity and peace in the country. “Oh God, unite our country again, bring peace to the Christians and strengthen your people,” was the common prayer on everybody’s lips. “This was a unique and wonderful experience for the Iraqi church,” shares Joyce who was one of the participants.
Teachers and pastors gave lectures on humility and engaged the group in seeking the Lord Jesus Christ at first. “There was prayer for the country and prayer for the different pastors. And one of the highlights was the fact that local Iraqi pastors washed each other feet and that is a miracle in a country where there is so much division,” Joyce adds. And she continues, “We prayed for God to give hope and life for individual Christians again; we prayed for individual prayer requests which were written down on paper.”
Another pastor taught the group to love their country and to have a passion for the country. Joyce says, “Two young leaders from Baghdad were very much touched by this, since both of them had been victims of violence and kidnapping in Baghdad, because of their faith. They had problems in loving their country and the people in it.”
One pastor shared, “Every six months we lose twenty per cent of our believers to the free world, and our main problem is also that so many Christian leaders are leaving. You just finish training young leaders and they leave. It is a pity and we are losing so many potential leaders.”
Another Iraqi Christian shared with tears the experience of his kidnapping in Kirkuk. “God was with me and I felt that people around the world were praying for me, although I was amazed about that. God was with me and he brought me out.”
In conclusion a pastor said, “Like Christ, the church in Iraq feels afflicted, not comforted and lashed by stones. And yet does the son of the king ever feel powerless? I do not think so; the presence of the comforter is in our midst in Iraq, so be brave and continue. The Holy Spirit in us is not just a power; He is God himself, who is with us. To God the church in Iraq is beautiful also; so let us love her and work alongside her to make her more so.”
RESPONSE: I will never lose faith that Jesus is developing His beautiful bride around the entire world.
PRAYER: Pray that Iraqi Christians will continue to perceive themselves as Jesus’ beautiful bride.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.