A New Way Of Seeing
Back in the early 1980s my wife and I were privileged to be associated with John Wimber and the emerging Vineyard movement, with their emphasis on the release of a new style of intimate worship, and the release of the healing power of the Holy Spirit as normal in the Christian life.
In order for us to move freely into those kinds of experiences, we needed to make some adjustments in the way we perceived reality. We needed to have a way of seeing that made room for the incursion of the miraculous into what we called “normal” life. In short, we needed a paradigm shift, a way of re-defining normalcy that included opportunities for the power of God to invade our usual experience.
The wonderful thing was that as we developed this new perspective according to Biblical patterns, we began to experience that power more regularly and some of our experiences began to resemble the dynamic of the New Testament accounts. Through subsequent years, more and more believers began to experience new dimensions of God’s miraculous presence in their everyday lives.
I believe we need a paradigm shift once again among God’s people with regard to prayer. In the activity-addicted, performance-oriented entity that is the Church, we have largely lost sight of the experiential intimacy with Jesus to which we have been called, and we need a restoration of that understanding. The new perspective makes room for believers to define their lives before God not on the basis of what they do for Him, but on the basis of the declarations of His ravished heart as the Heavenly Bridegroom.
We need a shift in the way we read the Scriptures, with a resultant shift in our theological thinking and ultimately a shift in the way we relate to Jesus, to ourselves, and to what we do in His Name. Our experience of the Christian life needs to be deepened and changed. The path the Holy Spirit is opening into this deeper experience is the way of intimacy with Jesus as our Bridegroom. My goal in these articles is to begin building a foundation of biblical understanding that will enable believers to see with new eyes, to begin to experience the presence of the Lord in new and sweeter ways.
I readily acknowledge at the outset that this “bridal paradigm” is not a new thing. It has been a central part of biblical theology all through history, and has been preserved through the life of the Church in marvelous ways in the experiences of mystics and contemplatives, most of whom have lived within the Catholic and Orthodox expressions of Christianity. There have been, however, only a precious few saints within the Protestant ethos who have gone deep into the understanding of Jesus’ love for His Bride, and whose personal experiences of these depths have enabled them to write in helpful ways.
Like Martha of Bethany, Protestant Evangelicals have been concerned with many necessary things, to the point that we have excluded the needful thing Mary chose—sitting at the feet of the Bridegroom to hear His heart and voice. But God is changing that, and my prayer is that this little contribution to the process will be of assistance to those who read it.
Over the next weeks we will look at this theme of bridal relationship as it is presented through the Scriptures, beginning with the Old Testament record, that we might know and believe what is in His heart.