“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” – Isaiah 66:13
Quite generally throughout our land the second Sunday in May has come to be observed as Mothers’ Day. In the book of Revelation the church is pictured as the bride, the Lamb’s wife, the spiritual mother by whom we are born again. All who are regenerated are born of the church as their spiritual mother. The word “church” has several meanings. It may mean the church building, or it may mean the teachings for which the church stands, or it may be used of the people who accept and seek to live according to these teachings.
In the twenty-first chapter of Revelation we read, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The church as the holy city is the church as to its system of truth, and as the bride the Lamb’s wife it is the carrying out of this body of truth in life.
In this latter sense the church is our spiritual mother, the means by which the truths of the Word are brought forth and handed down from generation to generation. It is this function that gives it permanence, as it is the means by which the human race is drawn into unity. The church has outlived many vanished nations and empires, and through it comes nourishment and healing for the world, as it is faithful to the Lord who is the Word. There has always been a church, for it underlies every orderly form of society among men.
The very life of the church is to bear and nurture children. We become children of our Heavenly Father by learning and keeping His commandments. Regeneration, rebirth, implies truth from the Word as truly as birth in this world implies a mother. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
We are all familiar with the care of a mother for her children, how she teaches them to walk and provides for their needs according to their different stages of development and to the varying circumstances and conditions which they may encounter. The church is the kingdom of the Lord in the minds and hearts of men. It is the Lord’s kingdom in this world. It is the means by which individuals and societies are formed into true human beings and societies.
People do not make a true society, and neither do their surroundings or their institutions, except as they receive the life that goes forth from the Lord. So it is that the angels do not make heaven, nor the beauty of their surroundings. It is the love and wisdom of the Lord operating in the souls of the angels that make heaven. The same is true of the church. It is the kingdom of the Lord on earth. It is the life of the Lord in each and every one of its members. It is His wisdom enlightening their minds, and His love received in their hearts that forms men into a body in which the Lord is the life. The church in a particular sense is the life of God in the individual soul. In a universal sense it is that life received by a larger number in whom love to the Lord and the neighbor governs the life. This is the meaning of the Lord’s words, “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” He did not say to His disciples, “Ye are the vine,” but “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”
And what John saw in vision was not a church builded by men on earth, but the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” And John heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
This is true not in some vague and mysterious sense, but in a very practical way. Whether we recognize it or not, it is the Lord who gives us life and sustains us from moment to moment. It is He who keeps us in the power to choose the good and refuse the evil. This is not any virtue that can be ascribed to us, for “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”
The Lord through the church constantly operates for our salvation, but in such a way as to leave us in freedom. This constant operation of the Lords providence does not come to our manifest perception because if it did, it would take away our freedom and the feeling that our life is our own, and we could not build up strength of character. Yet if we seek to learn and do the Lord’s will, we are given some perception of His constant care over us and provision for us. Then shall we be given a sense of tranquillity and peace in times of trial, and we shall feel that the “everlasting arms” are underneath holding us up and protecting us. We cannot have such experiences unless we believe in the Lord and His Word but, whether we believe much or little, the fact remains that we do not live from ourselves, and that whatever life and power we have is from the Lord.
Dependence upon the Lord is the only sure foundation for a good life. We soon pass out from the protection of our natural parents, but we need never and should never pass out of the protection of the holy city. Let us think what the world would be if there were not the Word and the church through which knowledge of the Lord and of His purposes is kept alive.
Our first birth is of natural parents. Our second birth is a spiritual birth, of the Lord and His church. The Lord is our Father in the highest degree, and the church our spiritual mother. So she is pictured in Scripture as a woman clothed with the sun, her head crowned with stars, and the moon under her feet. She is the means by which the Lord forms us into His children. So she is called in Scripture the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
This church takes upon itself an outward form or organization, just as the soul clothes itself with a body; and it is a true church to the extent that it looks to the Lord and serves Him.
We are born again by learning about the Lord and acting not from regard to self but from the principles of our religion. The second birth is regeneration: to have born in the heart love for the imperishable riches of the spirit. So the Psalmist prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The new heart is the new spiritual man, whose Father is the Lord and whose mother is the church.
By the second birth we are endowed with new thoughts and desires. We become altogether different people. The desire to advance self is changed into the desire to help others, the desire for power and honors to the desire to serve. Anger and revenge are turned into compassion and mercy. Instead of being envious and jealous of others, we take delight in their good fortune and well being.
It is recorded that in days of old men inquired of each other, when they met after long separation, not after their physical health, as we do now, but of their spiritual welfare. So our concern for the church should be not so much for its external growth and well being, but that its vision of the truth may be clear and that it may be ever increasing in its desire to be led by the Lord. So will the church on earth become the great agency for human rebirth, growth, and development, and the medium of communication with the Lord and with His church in the heavens.
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.” Spiritual comfort is the satisfaction and joy one feels when he acquires spiritual truth and directs his life by it. “Ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”