Marvin and Oi's wedding was one of the many highlights of my recent trip to Thailand. You have to understand a couple of things about this wedding, however, to really appreciate why it was special.

First, this is their second wedding. Their first wedding was the complete Thai style wedding that involved going to the bride's house and bargaining with the bride's father over the dowry. That wedding happened several months ago and was quite special. Their second wedding was a more Western culture, Christian wedding.

Second, Marvin is quite a character. He loves life, laughs easily, and is quickly self-deprecating. He is also a loyal follower of Jesus and a blast to be around. Marvin's mom is of Chinese descent from Indonesia. His dad is German. And Marvin is a citizen of Australia, where he grew up, and he has a strong Aussie accent.

Third, there is no way to know exactly how many different nations were represented at the wedding. There were easily over 10 nations, but my guess is that it was many more than that. The service was fun, moving, deeply Christian, and also respectful of all the cultures that went into making this moment special.

Why share all of this when we are talking about moving our passion from churchland to living the Kingdom of God — what we are calling C2K?

Well, I don't know if you have ever noticed, but the Bible begins and ends with a wedding.* The story of God's work among us is framed by the intimacy, love, and joy of weddings. While Adam and Eve's coming together is a much more private "wedding," the ending of the book of Revelation is a picture of Marvin and Oi's wedding expanded millions of times over!

Jesus loved the image of the wedding celebration,** probably because there were other joyous public events in the world in which he lived than a wedding feast! His return to bring us all home to be with him is described as a wedding celebration. Jesus, the bridegroom, will come and marry his bride (the Church) and the wedding celebration will begin.

Underneath this imagery is a reminder of God's longing to love us. There is also a call for us to be a bride that is ready for the bridegroom. And clearly part of that preparation to be a beautiful bride for Jesus is our living out the Kingdom values of our Lord. We want Jesus to be excited to kiss the bride! As the bride, we want to be ready to meet our bridegroom and bring him joy.

Part of the essential joy of this heavenly wedding celebration will be the bringing together of people from every tribe, language, nation, and culture (Revelation 7:9-12). So part of our preparation as the bride of Christ must be the breaking down of barriers among people that separate us — language, race, nationality, culture, skin color, political biases, and regional loyalties. This was central in the Lord's death, tearing down the hostility that exists between nations (Ephesians 2:11-14) This was part of the Lord's passion when he gave the Great Commission to reach all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). This is a huge part of what we say at our baptism (Galatians 3:26-29). This is clearly a huge part of the Lord's vision for the heavenly wedding celebration in the book of Revelation.

The Bible is a love story with a wedding as its goal. We, the people of Jesus' Kingdom are called to be the bride. We have a choice of whether or not we are going to participate in petty squabbles over cultural stuff and allow race, nationalism, and regionalism to divide us. However, I am confident that deep in our hearts, like any bride, we want to present ourselves to our groom as a radiant and lovely bride. So let's get to work in our churches and call Jesus' followers to have the Kingdom passion to make ourselves ready for the great wedding celebration that is to come by reaching out to all nations, languages, tribes, and peoples. Let's make every effort to be ready for the Groom to kiss the bride!

*  Genesis 1:26-27;  Genesis 2:4-25;  Revelation 19:7-9;  Revelation 21:1-9; 22:17

**  Matthew 22:2-12;  Matthew 25:1-13;  Mark 2:19-20;  Luke 12:35-38;  Luke 14:7-11;  John 2:1-12;  John 3:29

Do you see any significance in the Bible beginning and ending with the image of a wedding?

What does this say to us about God's intentions for us?

What does this say about how we are to live as Jesus' church, his Kingdom family?

Paul says to the church in Corinth, "I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him" (2 Corinthians 11:2 TNIV). What implications do you believe this has for us as Jesus' followers and how we live our lives as his people?