Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why does the church needs the Holy Spirit? The Espousal Letter to Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6

I've posted before on the espousal themes of the letter to Thyatira in Revelation, and my inkling that the whole book leans that way (as the whole of the Bible does). Nice theory if it holds for the fourth letter. But what about the other six? Let's start with the fifth letter to the churches, to Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)?

1. Jesus writes as the one who holds the Spirit.
2. The church has a reputation of life but is actually dead. It's just the appearance of churchliness.
3. They need to awake, obey and repent.
4. If they do this they'll be clothed in white and given a name never blotted out.

Picture the scene. The dutiful wife, busy in the kitchen like Martha, maintaining the appearance of the happy home. But it's loveless and sexless, there's no relationship let alone intimacy. The dinner parties are good, the carpets are clean, but the air is cold. Is this the Sardisian church? 

What is needed? The divine husband Jesus writes...
True love, the works need to be filled out with love... with that love that the Spirit gives... Then, knowing that she is truly loved this bride will come alive. Out of the overflow of the Spirit in her heart her works will abound. Her face will sparkle and shine from the Spirit-given sight of the glory of God in Christ. As she sees that her husband lovingly laid himself down, slaughtered for her, then she'll obey. She'll obey as a wife should, that is by receiving his love for her. He loves and so dies for her, she receives. In marriage husbands love by dying and serving, which is hard. And a wife by receiving love and believing that she's loved, which is hard.

Such a marriage isn't lived in fear of Jesus blowing up at her, throwing her out on the street and replacing her with another (which our Christ would never do... but which doubtless many Christian's fear will happen to them. Robert Jenson argues for marriage being us saying to someone else 'you're not replaceable'). No, she'll see her security and her beauty which he has given her and come to truly enjoy the Spirit-filled life of love with him that he longs for her to have. His love will put resurrection life and eternal life in her and she'll flourish as she's caught up into relationships with her husband, and with his Father, all by the Holy Spirit.

That's my kind of puritan-charismatic theology, Spirit-filled Christ-focussed, loved-up into communion with the Triune God. Let the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come, Lord Jesus. Make haste my beloved'