By Larry Kreider
On the day of my wedding, I looked eagerly for my bride at the back of the auditorium. I expected her to be ready to walk the isle to become my new wife. But if she had slipped in the mud a few minutes prior to her entry, what do you think my reaction would have been? To reject her? Certainly not! I’d have done whatever it took to clean her up to prepare her for the wedding.
Our Lord is preparing a bride for Himself. This bride, the church, has been soiled and badly wrinkled during the past 2000 years. Her track record has often been marked by the frailty of man—filled with corruption and selfish ambition. Although the fires of revival have burned in various parts of the world through the ages, the church certainly has not yet become the vital force God created it to be.
However, our God is committed to cleaning up His bride and presenting her to Himself as a glorious church, perfect in every way! He has promised to return for a church a bride that is without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). Jesus told His disciples clearly, “… I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!” (Matthew 16:18 NLT). This gives me great hope for the church of Jesus Christ!
We are all needed
There are many flavors and expressions of the Lord’s church in our communities. All who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and honor His Word are cherished by our Heavenly Father. There is no single church or denomination in any given city or region that has all the truth. We are all needed!
In light of this, we should be careful what we say about our Lord’s bride. If someone ever speaks against my bride LaVerne, he will have to deal with me. Likewise, if we speak against the bride of Christ, we will have to deal with Him! Christ loves His church, even though she is still in the process of becoming all He intends her to be.
Christ is in us! He is our “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)—the very Word of hope personified! When we, as the church, fully grasp the life which is ours through Christ, we have confidence for His church. Specifically, we have confidence for the new generation of leadership He is raising up among us.
Hope for Our Future
I meet this new breed of leaders week after week as I travel and speak throughout the world. Humility and servanthood mark this new generation. They embrace and honor their spiritual parents who believe in them and coach them. They have no desire to build their own empires.
These new leaders see their gifts and anointings as just one of many critical pieces of input needed as they find the mind of Christ together. They honor and lift up other ministries, churches, leaders and believers in their regions. They are secure in their identity and in the Lord’s call on their lives as they bless those around them.
Many of our future leaders are presently serving as leaders of small groups in churches of all denominations. Our God is preparing them for future leadership and ministry. When I see the strength and promise in these leaders, I am filled with great hope for the bride of Christ!
About Larry Kreider
Larry has spent the past four decades training leaders to make disciples with the small group concept. Larry serves as the international director of DOVE International, a worldwide network of over 1,000 churches in twenty-six nations. Larry has written more than forty books and travels extensively teaching and imparting practical discipleship to leaders globally. Read about Larry or catch up on Larry’s blog.