The Warrior Bride rising up to meet her Violent Lover
When I was a child I remember my church singing the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers.” As a young boy I was vaguely intrigued by the song’s theme of war as it evoked images of guns and swords and fighting, the usual fare of a boy’s imaginations. It was also a rare opportunity to sing the world “hell” in church as loudly as I cared to. But as I got older, I began to strongly dislike the song. Starting in high school and then into my college years, as I started to think for myself and have my own ideas about the world, I decided I was a pacifist. As such, I could never condone war. I laid down the guns of my imagination and picked up instead a pen and studied writing.
And so I found it odd that very recently, as I was drifting off to sleep, I began to sing aloud, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the Cross of Jesus going on before…” I sang this refrain several times before finally falling asleep.
Several months earlier, after reading the birth account of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25, I was prompted to discover the meaning of my own name. At the time I was searching for direction from God, inquiring about my destiny. I wanted to know if a clue to my destiny lay hidden in my name, as it did for the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. It turns out, as it so often does when it comes to things of the Lord, that the meaning was multi-layered.
My first name, Cory, means both Spear, and the Peace of God. My middle name, Rayne, means Judgment Warrior. Now, the Peace of God I liked and could identify with. My heavenly Father taught me about His peace at an early age and I have generally been able to walk in it through most trials and situations. But Spear and Warrior, those I felt less sure about. It seemed as if I had been named for both war and peace, two things that, in my mind, bore nothing in common. On my most recent birthday, I was in the company of a prophet and I told him that today, April 12th, was my birthday, and he immediately returned with Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart,” (NIV) The parallels struck me pretty hard: the verse begins with the Sword of the Word of God, and my first name means the Spear of the Peace of God. The verse ends with the sword judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, and my middle name means Judgment Warrior.
And then came the words. Over a period of 2 months I received several violent prophetic words from various people. This violence was never aimed at me, but they were prophetic words about my future as a warrior, slaying both lions and giants.
Now, as a non-violent person, I struggled with this, just as I had always struggled with the battle-talk of Paul in his letters. When Paul instructed us to put on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:11, I instead would think about Isaiah 61:10, “…For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness…” (New Living). When Paul said “the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4, Amplified) I was grateful that Christ was alive in me because I trusted that He would wield those weapons for me. When Jesus said that “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force,” (Matt. 11:12, NASB) I just hoped He meant we had to want it really badly.
But then when I found myself singing a song about Christian soldiers marching off to war, I began to realize that God was trying to tell me something important. During the next several days the phrase Violent Lover appeared in my mind repeatedly. Much like war and peace, I wondered what violence and love could have in common. I know that many fights and even wars have been waged in the name of love; for land, women, and even God. But again in my mind, the two seemed at odds. And then something clicked in my spirit. The tension I felt when comparing war vs. peace and violence vs. love was the same tension I had been sensing over the corporate body of Christ for nearly a year.
Few will argue that we, the body of Christ, “have not passed this way before,” (Joshua 3:4, NASB). Uncertainties in both the natural and the spiritual are growing. We have less and less sure ground on which to place our feet. But this is exactly what needs to happen. All that can be shaken is being shaken, “so that only unshakable things will remain,” (Hebrews 12:27, New Living). And what is the one thing that cannot be shaken? Jesus Christ the Rock. Psalm 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety,” (New Living, emphasis added). He is the “rock” upon which the builder built his house in Matthew 7. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:20 that Jesus is the “chief cornerstone” of Psalm 118:22. The cornerstone is the first stone set in the foundation of a new building. The first, and the most important. It is not chosen at random, but carefully crafted for that specific purpose.
When all that can be shaken has fallen away, we are called to look upon that which cannot be shaken: Jesus. And when our eyes and hearts are fixed on Him, He will reveal Himself to us in a new way. Throughout God’s history with man He has progressively revealed Himself and His relationship to us. First as Creator and Creation, then as Master and Slave, King and subject, Father and Son, brothers, and finally Bride and Groom – or lovers. There can be no more intimate metaphor for our relationship with Christ than as a lover.
Then what else has He to reveal to us about His nature? He wants to remind us of things we’ve forgotten. He wants to remind us that although He is indeed a lover, He is also a fierce warrior.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16, New Living Translation
Jesus is not simply a lover, nor just a warrior. He is a Violent Lover, capable of great passion on the battlefield and in the arms of His bride. He is jealous over his bride. Exodus 34:14 says, “the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you,” (New Living). James 4:5 says, “…the Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love,” (Amplified). And because He is jealous for us, He watches over and fights for us like a knight in shining armor of legend.
These two images of Christ are about to be brought together in a new and jarring way. Our world is being shaken so that we will turn our eyes to Him. And even more than a shaking, there is a pressing as well, as though through a birth canal or grapes pressed into new wine. But the Lord has also shown me that the tension in the spirit right now is like trying to push two magnets together as they repel each other – no matter what you do, the two sides don’t meet because a force keeps them apart. When that happens, it is because the sides of the magnets that face each other are the same pole: either north facing north, or south facing south. The two magnets are the two images of Christ, and the church is the force that has kept them separate. Depending on the individual, the congregation, and even the circumstance we have chosen to look to either one or the other but all the while the two images, like the two poles, are the same! God is about to step in and bring the two magnets together as one. We are going to see the Gentle Jesus and the Conquering Christ fully revealed and reconciled as one Savior, one King.
And this will be a sign of something even greater. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” (Genesis 1:27, New Living). God created both men and women in His likeness, so God must also contain the likeness of male and female. This does not ascribe physical gender to God, but rather it means that the hearts of men and women, what makes them different and unique, exist within God. At the heart of every woman is a lover, and at the heart of every man is a warrior. This is not to the exclusion of the other because both exist in every heart. To paraphrase John Eldregde, author of Wild at Heart, every woman wants to be loved, and every man wants a love to fight for. This is how we are created. But in Christ, we see the two meet in a glorious One.
When Christ reveals Himself to the body anew as the Violent Lover, it will be a sign that that He will soon reconcile the feminine to the masculine, the lover to the warrior, the bride to the bridegroom. It will be a sign to ready ourselves like the wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-10) and the wise servants (Luke 12:35-38) for our Master’s return. An army caught without armor is an army caught unawares. We must do as Paul says and put on the whole armor of God. We must gird ourselves for battle and be ever-ready. We must follow Christ’s example as the Violent Lover and become His Warrior Bride. Not to do battle with the things of this world, but as we put on the Lord’s armor, we put on the Lord Himself and the things of this world die away. Wearing the whole armor of God is a sign of intimacy, and only intimacy will cause us to come through this shaking and pressing with our feet firmly planted on the Rock of Salvation.
And so, like the song, we must march forward as Christian soldiers, armed and ready for battle, with the cross before us, and His banner of love flying over us. And we march with confidence, our heads held high, because the victory is assured. Indeed, we march with the Peace of God because the victory is already ours as Jesus said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30, New Living). But we march, from all corners of the earth, ascending the Holy Hill of God, a Warrior Bride rising up to meet her Violent Lover. Can you see Him, there in the distance? Eyes like fire, voice like a mighty ocean… and a smile so big, wild, and full of love that it startles before it warms your heart. And the whole host of Heaven is behind Him. The trumpet has sounded. It is time for war.