Your Lovers Despise You
What are you doing, you devastated one?
Why dress yourself in scarlet
and put on jewels of gold?
Why highlight your eyes with makeup?
You adorn yourself in vain.
Your lovers despise you;
they want to kill you.
God's beautiful bride refused to respond to his wooing, turning her back on him and instead, dressed herself like a prostitute hoping that other lovers would take her in. Israel was already destitute and instead of turning toward the One who loved her and would have done anything for her, she tried to make herself more attractive to the nations of the world. Just as a woman wanting to sell herself she dressed herself in bright red clothing, and added all of her jewels. She didn't hide anything from those who would be her enemies, she let them see all that she had to offer. She put on make-up so that they would take notice and then stood around in hopes that they would want her. All the while the one who really loved her was waiting -- but she, continued to put herself out there for her lovers, who despised her.
Any flirtation we have with the world is a flirtation against the one who loves us more than we could ever imagine. We are the bride of Christ, both individually and collectively as the church. Or course, we would never want to imagine ourselves in the place of adulterous Israel -- but in a moment of examination might we find ourselves there, tempted by the things of this world.
What is it that tempts us on a daily basis to not spend time with the one who loves us? He is waiting patiently for us, morning noon and night to come and to hang out with him -- and yet, there are the things of this world that are drawing us and so we leave the one who loves us deeply at home and we head out into the world. We get ourselves all fixed up so that they world will not despise us. We want to make ourselves acceptable, certainly not wanting anyone to think that there is anything different about us because we are God-followers! We try to fit in as much as possible with our behavior, our dress and our responses. And yet, could it be that all of this is done in vain -- for the love and the acceptance that we may be seeking from "others" -- may simply be those who want to use us for their own benefit. The reality is that the world despises us and would rather see us killed. God, who created all things, constantly has our best interest in mind, and wants to care for and protect us. We don't have to go out looking like the world to be accepted, we simply have to turn around and allow ourselves to fall into the arms of our loving Savior!
But what about on the corporate level -- the bride known as the Church? Is there a possibility that we have chosen to be so appealing to the world that we have forgotten that we exist to be his bride? Have we adorned ourselves with bright colors, added jewelry and some make-up to attract those who despise us? What would happen if the church, the bride of Christ, quit trying to make the world like us and instead focused on worship of our bridegroom, the one who is waiting with outstretched arms to love us and care for us. I am convinced that if the church would focus on loving God, then love of others would spill out of her. The natural action or reaction would be to go out and minister in the world. Unfortunately I'm afraid that we have abandoned our first love and even in some well-meaning attempts to grow the church, have adorned ourselves in vain for the love of the world. We have to get our priorities right. We must first love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. What happens in worship in churches across the world ought to be about loving our Lord and not about what it is that we want in a worship service. I believe that the world is hungry to find genuineness in our churches -- a place where God truly is first and all of our personal desires are put aside. People are hungry to experience the transcendent in worship. We don't want God or the church to be like the world -- because the lovers of this world truly do despise us.
Lord, please, help me not to give in to the temptation to be pleasing to the world. Amen.