|Our Wedding Cake from 1993|
Does a Bride long for her wedding day, when she will at last be united with her groom to spend the rest of her days in his company? Or does she wait out her engagement out of obligation and duty, despising the length of time she will have to spend with her groom once the vows have been taken?
Loyalty and obligation are two very different words, but it seems like we tend to get those two confused when it comes to commitment. When you get down to the root of those words, you have loyal and obligate.
Here is how the dictionary defines them:
giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution
1 bind or compel (someone), esp. legally or morally
2 [ with obj. ] commit (assets) as security
adjective |ˈäbligit| [ attrib. ] Biology
restricted to a particular function or mode of life
I’ve highlighted the words to show how contrasting those words really are. Loyalty is birthed out of love for another and obligation is birthed out of duty.
Luke 5:34 and John 3:29 speaks of how Jesus is the bridegroom and we as his followers are his bride. Therefore since we are the bride awaiting our groom, then we need to ask ourselves, “Am I waiting in joyful expectation to be united with Christ to spend all eternity with him?” or “Am I following Christ out of a verbal commitment to gain a heavenly security while living a life of religious duty?”
As I read the book of Ruth I saw the love of the bride and the bridegroom demonstrated towards one another. How broken our world is when we rarely see the love of God in marriage vows. The vows that are meant to demonstrate loyalty (giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person) are so easily broken and discarded. It’s no wonder that so many believers in Christ are experiencing a dead, religious type of relationship while committed or “engaged” to the bridegroom. The earthly model of the love between the bride and the bridegroom has been shattered giving the impression of a hopeless and dull future bound by vows spoken to gain security.
This is not what God desires for us. In the book of Ruth, Ruth has been living with her mother-in-law after the death of her husband and has been working daily in the fields of an older man who could redeem her from her current life by marrying her. She then, in Ruth 3:9, seeks him out and quietly lays at his feet. When he notices her, she asks him to “spread his garment over her” so as to symbolize marriage. He is so blessed by her kindness towards him, as he is much older than her and she could have chosen another man much younger than he. In the end, they do wed and Ruth goes from a worker in the fields to the owner of the fields, living an abundant life.
Ruth, the bride, chose to commit to her groom out of love, not obligation and her groom, although he was lawfully obligated to wed Ruth, gave the opportunity to another out of love for her, but in the end she was rejected and so her groom, her redeemer, wed her.
Loyalty is a commitment birthed from love. Is that the kind of relationship you are experiencing with Jesus right now? Do you look forward to reading your Bible, praying, and talking to God or is it an obligation? If you find yourself following Jesus out of religious duty and obligation because you “prayed a prayer” of salvation once for the hope of security, then you are in relationship with the bridegroom for the wrong reasons. No wonder your time of “engagement” is so dry and boring!
Recommit yourself to Jesus out of love for Him and watch what he will do. Just like Ruth, you will go from a life of struggling to a life abundant full of joy for the coming groom.