My husband and I had the opportunity to run away for the day to attend the wedding of a dear college friend. I love weddings. I relish the beauty and love that saturate the day. I enjoy watching the couple’s day unfold and reminiscing my own blissful day in which my husband and I melded into one—one life, one purpose, one love.
I arrived ready to enjoy the vows, the glow of lovers, the flowers, the food, the fellowship, but I didn’t anticipate the beautiful worship of God that marked the entire day.
The ceremony commenced with beautiful monologues written by the mothers expressing pride and joy for their children and abundant praise to their God. The pastor implored the new couple to let their marriage reflect their union with Christ. The bride and groom exchanged original, passionate vows charged with praise to God who gave abundantly more than they could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). After the vows, the parents joined the couple on the platform linking hands and hearts in intercession and praise to the Father. The entire ceremony was an overture of praise for the goodness of God in this long-awaited marital gift. You might be thinking that the ceremony sounded terribly solemn, but on the contrary, the couple smiled, joked, laughed, wept, prayed, promised—their emotions were raw, rich and real.
The bride and groom intentionally orchestrated the day to keep Christ central, and I felt my own heart led in worship of our great God who delights in blessing his children with good gifts (Matthew 7:11). While no formal Gospel invitation was given, I have never witnessed a more Gospel-saturated ceremony. God’s praise was on the lips of the pastor, the parents, the bride, the groom, the maid of honor, the best man—God was central and glorified; God was all in all. Any unbeliever sitting in that pew was confronted with his or her incredible lack.
Beautifully, there was nothing forced or pompous about the proceedings. The bride and groom’s words naturally rose in worship from a heart full of God. As Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” Matthew 12:34. While their wedding elicited worship, it also gave an unspoken challenge to those witnessing their union. Is God this real to you? Do you credit Him with everything good in your life and commit everything else to His care? Are you full of Christ?
The book of James challenges believers in a similar manner. He instructs the brothers to show their faith by their works, for he asserts that “faith, by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” James 2:17. He reminds us that our words are a litmus test for our faith. He argues, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” James 3:11-12.
Quite simply, a Christ-follower should produce the fruit of Christ. One who claims to be a branch in His vine should produce His fruit. A fig does not bear olives, nor should a Christian bear rotten fruits of flesh. Through the nourishment and power of the Spirit’s indwelling, our lives should be ripe with His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control, for if we “walk by the Spirit . . . [we] will not gratify the desires of the flesh” Galatians 5:16.
Christ has set us free from the law, free from our flesh, and now we are free to walk in step with Him, for “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.” We have been grafted into His family. We are the bride of Christ, entered into covenant with Him and committed to loving and serving Him for eternity. What a privilege. How can we but praise Him?
Minutes into the marriage ceremony, one knew this man and woman were authentic Christ followers. They were ripe with God’s love, and we ate fully of their joy. What about you? Does your life point to Christ? Do your words and actions identify you as His child? Do you bear His fruit? This couple’s testimony revealed a presence and fullness of God in their daily lives that convicted and encouraged my own heart to faithfulness. Be invigorated by their example, and be full of Christ today.