Bride of Christ and Bridegroom, filthy rags, full-scale practice, grow physically and spiritually, incease in people's favor, increase in God's favor, life is a dress rehearsal, live peaceably with everyone, mainevent, real production, sandpaper (unlovable) people, white linen gown
And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people. ~ Luke 2:52, MSG
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give him the glory! The Marriage of the Lamb has come; his Wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen. The linen is the righteousness of the saints. ~ Revelation 19:7-8, MSG
Most believers understand that their Christian life is merely one perpetual dress rehearsal, a full-scale practice of the life they will live with their Bridegroom and Father God in Heaven. This full-scale practice, thus, is intended to perfect believers’ lives before they are resurrected from the dead and/or raptured (translated) alive so that they will be worthy to enter into the Bridal Chamber with their Bridegroom, which is the Bride of Christ’s main event! For this reason, true believers have to make sure that they understand that every detail of their dress rehearsal must meet Father God’s expectations.
Therefore, we have to make sure that we please God by living out the kind of life Jesus the Christ lived (cf. Hebrews 11:5-6), and by coming to the spiritual understanding that our God is more interested in developing His character in us than He is interested in providing comfort for us. We also must understand that our God is more interested in making our individual lives holy, like He is holy, than He is interested in making our lives happy.
So then, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, we must get the dress rehearsal right. To get it right, the most important goal of our born again and saved lives must be for us to grow in Christ-likeness, for the Lord Himself matured physically and spiritually, and increased in favor with God and mankind (cf. Luke 2:52). Additionally, we must complete God’s holiness (sanctification) process. In essence, we must be Holy Spirit driven instead of being driven by money, greed, lust, materialism, fame, bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, discrimination, immorality, and so forth.
In every community of saints, we believers not only need to practice how to praise and worship God sincerely and completely, but also we need to practice how to be ONE with our Household of Faith siblings. Without a doubt, eternity will not be all about us lifting up our holy hands and shouting or singing “hallelujah” to God. We will not spend every moment of eternity prostrate before God. The Scriptures do indeed tell us that we also will rule with the Lord FOREVER (cf. Revelation 22:3-5). For this reason, we MUST learn how to love, to forgive, and to be kind to sandpaper people (people who in the present or in the past have rubbed us the wrong way). Indeed, we MUST learn how to love, to forgive, and to be kind to anyone we currently think is unlovable!
There is no way that God will let us wait until we get to Heaven before this necessary godly behavior is perfected in us—before we are transformed into, never failing, forgiving, loving, merciful, gracious, righteous, and holy people. That’s why He gave us His Holy Spirit, whose ministry work includes, but is not limited to, conforming us into the image of Jesus the Christ and helping us to become overcomers (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4). Without the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit, there is no way we can get the Christian lifestyle correct while we are living down here, and if we can’t live holy and righteously down here without the Holy Spirit’s help, then how on earth can we think that God will give us less than conquerors or non-overcomers the opportunity to become forgiving, loving, merciful, gracious, righteous, and holy people in Heaven?
Living totally surrendered holy and righteous lives on this side of Heaven is what God always had in mind for humanity. That’s why He made our Christian life a dress rehearsal, because He knew that in this dress rehearsal we, the righteousness of Christ participants, would be given plenty of opportunities to learn what TO do and what NOT TO do, how to correct our mistakes, and how to do something better the next time, and every time thereafter.
As the Bride of Christ, we know that the real production—the main event or the beginning of the rest of our eternal story—will not start until we are hidden, from the 7-year Tribulation, in the Bridal Chamber, which our Bridegroom (Jesus the Christ) has been preparing for us (cf. John 14:2-3). To earn the right to skip the Tribulation Period or the right to be permitted to wear the Bride’s fine, clean, white linen gown (cf. Revelation 19:8), or both, clearly the Bride of Christ must do more than just profess that Jesus the Christ is Her Lord and Savior—She must do more than become born again, saved, and justified. Once again, She, like Her Bridegroom, must mature physically AND spiritually, and She must increase in favor with God and mankind (cf. Luke 2:52).
Since we cannot win souls for the Lord, when we are behaving like believers who are uncaring, deceitful, jealous, envious, bitter, hateful, cold-blooded, discourteous, sarcastic, foul-mouthed, and so on, then it should stand to reason that we certainly will not have favor with God and mankind if we treat believers AND non-believers this way. In essence, if we do not have a desire to get along with others, particularly those people we’ve labeled as sandpaper or unlovable, then we won’t get along with them, especially if we are without the Holy Spirit’s help.
Now while we cannot control the thoughts and actions of others, and while we cannot make others like us, or fellowship with us, we can do our part in living peaceably. Indeed, the Word of God instructs us, for the Apostle Paul says, “If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody” (Romans 12:18, MSG). If we are full of the Holy Spirit, then the desire to get along with everybody will be in us, because we will have the mind of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16b)! Therefore, there is no way for any of us who are born again, saved, justified, full of the Holy Spirit, and being sanctified believers to get out of having to get along with others. God commands it, and we true believers, who have the Holy Spirit’s help, will seek to obey His commandments, which in this case means doing whatever we can to get along with everybody.
Even though the born again, saved, justified, full of the Holy Spirit, and becoming holy life, which we are living now, possesses eternal significance, this life is still only our dress rehearsal—the preparation for the real production that no doubt will be far more splendid (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Then too, although this rehearsal for some will be longer and more challenging than it will be for others, God has promised that every true believer will be transformed into the perfect image of Jesus the Christ. Put differently, by the time every true believer reaches the final dress rehearsal, his or her filthy rags will be completely replaced by the Bride of Christ’s fine, clean, white linen gown!
Knowing that the Christian life is just a dress rehearsal should make the life true believers live much different from the life the individuals who are without spiritual meaning live!!! Thus, a word to the wise should be sufficient.