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The ‘Bridle’ Paradigm

May 21, 2009

Like horses that are yoked, to the chariots of kings

hook me up to your heart, to your heart God,

never to be free

Sometimes all it takes is a little tweak in the way we talk about an idea to have a powerful encounter with truth all over again! Something like that happened to me this past Sunday when Chad began to sing David Ruis’ Come Down and set it up as a description of the “bridle” paradigm. 

Over the past decade the Lord has raised up several significant voices across the earth to reawaken the Church to our identity as the Bride of Christ. As with other biblical descriptions of the people of God, the language of “Bride/Bridegroom” communicates a unique and glorious aspect of our inheritance in Christ. As sons of God we are adopted and made heirs of the Kingdom. As the Body we receive life and direction together from the Head. As the Temple we are the place God’s presence dwells on the earth. As the Bride, we have been invited into a place of intimacy and partnership with the Son of God. Each of these facets on the diamond of our God-ordained, blood-bought, Spirit-empowered identity is glorious almost beyond words. And while there is no sense in which one is “better” than the others, there do seem to be seasons where one particular aspect is specifically highlighted. The rubric through which Christ’s fiery affection for us and our place of intimate partnership with Him has been unfolded across the past decade in the Church is called the Bridal Paradigm. It is a way of seeing our relationship with Christ that emphasizes His unconditional, overflowing passion for His people, and our consequent authority in intercession and worship growing out of this place of intimacy.

The Bridal Paradigm is a message that is meant to impact the heart. The revelation of the love of God for us is designed to empower a reciprocal love for God. When the language of the Bridal Paradigm becomes familiar, however, the tendency is to take its truth for granted – which causes us to presume on God’s love rather than partner with Him out of lovesick heart. The portion of Ruis’ song listed above is what broke that over-familiarity off of my spirit this past Sunday and “poured God’s love into [my] heart through the Holy Spirit” (Rm. 5:5) all over again.

While the image of a slobbery bridle directing a sweaty horse may sound far removed from Solomon’s cedar-timbered bed chamber, the reality contained in the bridal paradigm is present in the bridle paradigm as well! At the heart of both is the idea of partnership with Christ in the accomplishing of His work on the earth. A bridle is about control and direction. He does not leave us to pick our own way forward. We are not free and He is not just along for the ride. He initiates and we move when and where He moves us. But this image communicates more than control; it is about relationship, partnership. The bridle forms an almost organic link between horse and rider. While no one else may know the desire and plan in the rider’s heart, the horse will know as the will of the rider is communicated through the bridle. And if the rider is to see his plan accomplished, the horse must participate fully and immediately in what he is doing! There is a real sense in which the rider depends on and requires the horses’ participation in the plan communicated through the bridle in order to arrive at his objective. 

While this imagery can not do justice to our relationship with Christ, the “Bridle Paradigm” does highlight a very real and magnificent truth! All of us are born with bridles controlled by the devil (Eph. 2:1-3). Christ has freed us at the cross from this destructive master and has taken the reins of our life in His life-giving, love-pierced hands. This forms a truly organic connection between His heart and ours, giving us the immense privilege of discerning His heart and will. And more than understanding what He desires, we are given a real and responsible role in accomplishing His work. As we increasingly die to ourself and Christ increasingly “wills our will” (to quote Edwards), we experience the joy of true, intimate, bridle partnership!

One brief point of application: while we have a blood-bought boldness to approach the throne of grace, the bridle paradigm reminds us to spend the first part of our prayer listening. While our role is real, it is always one of response. Once His Word sets the course, tugs on the bridle to tweak our direction, we are free to run hard into intercession for His will to be done! May we be increasingly hooked up to His heart!

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One Comment
  1. brAdy permalink

    I wonder if the reigns of our bridle do in fact run through the holes in the Rider’s hands (or wrists, or physical substitute). When I first read David’s ascent “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” (Ps 116.1-2) I was somewhat put off by it. Is God worthy of our adulation & submission, simply because of something He does–not first because He is? But what I failed to gather was this bridle “facet” of the cube. The up-cry & answer of God & man is that of Husband & Bride. It is the evidence of partnership, the resolution of a footstool-bound, blood & naked wretch, nondescript in helplessness–yet seen by Heaven’s Throne Sitter. The snare we are all born into warrants no saving action from Him, yet He is “righteous, gracious & merciful.” He alone can give mercy; mercy only comes to those who are not worthy of it. To Him alone are we steaded with any hope–yet so much more: life. It is quite unlike any parallel love on Earth, as we are all unqualified equals before the Lone Qualified Authority.

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