In Scripture, we, the church, are described in several different phrases: the body of Christ, the ekklesia, the assembly, fellowship of the Firstborn, and a few others. But one particular phrase I’ve kind-of always had a hard time with (up until recently) was Bride of Christ, or the Wife of the Lamb. Namely, because I wasn’t married. Now, I’ve written briefly on it on this very site, but like I’ve said before, many things that I used to think I knew, I only knew in theory–this being one of them.
Not only was it because I wasn’t married, but also because me, being a male, couldn’t quite grasp calling my God my husband. I thought Scripture went against homosexuality? Well, if you look into things a little deeper and with a slightly more open mind (or, open heart, rather), this term becomes a wonderful example of not only Jesus’ relationship to the church as a whole, but God’s overall relationship with you!
So, though we don’t have nearly enough space or time afforded on this little blog (as usual), I am going to do my utmost to describe this part of our relationship to God, and His relationship to us. This will be Part 2 of the Enjoying God Series that I recently began in my last post. I hope to convey this message to those of you who might not be married…
A God in Love
I recently heard a sermon by our church’s pastor (Randy Free) a few weeks ago titled, The Transformative Power of the Love of God. In it, he used a very striking analogy of our relationship to God. He used the analogy of having a “crush” or “being in love”. He especially emphasized that first crush we ever had. So, I want to expound on this further and maybe show how, indeed, this description of a deep spiritual truth can absolutely transform your walk with God.
In considering this, I realized (as I’m sure you will) that there are a few definite phases to romance with another person. And these phases can easily be translated to our relationship, and our romance, with God. First, however, we must realize that everything we do under the sun is a picture or a shadow of Christ, our Creator (Col. 2:17). Especially marriage and romance. See Ephesians 5:31-33.
The Phases of a Romance and their Eternal Significance
The first phase is the “crush” phase. This is when we catch a glimpse of someone that really catches our attention. There’s something about them that makes us want to know more about them. We may ask either our or one of his/her friends about them. We may try to make up reasons to talk or encounter this person.
This, even if you’ve been a follower of Jesus for decades, can be a definite first step towards a re-kindled fire, love, and adoration for the Lord Jesus Christ!
There might be something we feel is missing from life, from work, from people, from ourselves. If you’re not a follower of Him, then you may be experiencing this acutely even now as you read this. But something about this God that you hear about so much from others, from music, or simply in the dead of night when you catch yourself wondering and hoping that He really is what He’s supposed to be. So…we ask. We read books, we talk to people at church, we start praying, or we give worship music a chance (or maybe you click a link on Facebook about Enjoying God and you’re very curious). So, we feel something inside moving us, then we begin to pursue…
This phase leads to the next, for each phase builds upon itself–if one is missing, the others simply cannot stand
The next phase is the dating or courting phase. This is where we decide to act on what we’re feeling inside, to take a step of faith, if you will. This phase is most likely longer than the initial crush phase. I would include from the very first date all the way up to your wedding day into this one. Here’s where we start making a decision to alter our lifestyle choices, our tastes, the ways we spend our money, our time, etc. An entire book could be written (and I’m sure there’s plenty) about how dating/courting correlates with a walk with God, but I want to focus on one particular area.
When we fall in love there’s a mutual aspect to it (that is, if it’s healthy). Both parties have something invested: time and energy. Often times, when we think of our relationship to God, we think that all the love and affection within the relationship is supposed to be from us, to Him. Indeed this is true…if only half true. The other half is Jesus is just as (and indeed more so) devoted and committed to you as you could ever be to Him.
If you were in a relationship with someone, and you gave all the affections and all the love and all the energy, but they gave nothing in return, we would consider that very unhealthy. And if that person allowed you to do this, we would call that person perhaps narcissistic. Yet, many of us (including myself) have or have had this view of God–that He is this cosmic narcissist. But this is obviously a false view!
The next, and hopefully longest stage is the marriage stage. Being a newlywed, I can’t necessarily talk authoritatively on this phase. But I can give what I have, which is a little.
During the crush and dating/courting phases, there was a flood of endorphins, blissful states, and accompanying downward spirals in our emotions. There was lots of insecurities that needed to be healed and worked through from previous lovers (kind-of like sin, sex, drugs are former, false lovers). In those phases, we were still trying to figure out if this other person really loved us. So there were days we were so sure they did, but others we thought our world had unraveled. Mistakes by either party were perhaps over exaggerated, causing alarm and fear that they would leave us. Or, what if they were lying to us the whole time? What if they simply decided we weren’t worth the hassle?
WIth marriage comes a different and deeper level of commitment and intimacy. Hopefully, by this phase in our earthly relationship, we’re mostly past all these huge ups and downs. Now we’re into the day-to-day, steady, easy-does-it phase. Sure, we still make mistakes. Hopefully not the same ones we did when we first started dating. But we now know in a much deeper way that we are loved. Love is something that is reciprocal–it must be given and returned. So with this knowing, we in turn love the other more. And this continues…forever.
This is the level of relationship I desire most for not only me and my wife, but much more with me and my Lord. Now, there are times in marriage when we must re-whoo our spouse. Much like we did while dating. Old fires must be rekindled, love must be re-communicated and re-committed.
So, what does God enjoy most? He enjoys you! He absolutely loves proving Himself to be your true Lover, time after time–again and again–until you, me, we finally realize it and quit turning to false “lovers” such as sex, drugs, alcohol, money, politics, etc.
“Your face is lovely…” -Song of Songs 2:14
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