Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weddings and stuff

We went to a really lovely wedding today. Simple, elegang and warm, and such a sense of the presence of God. It was so lovely to see a dear friend so happy and to be able to see God move to join two beautiful people together.

It all lead me to contemplate Ephesians 5, verse 31-32 where it says:

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

What does it mean? Why does Paul speak of husband and wife and Christ and the church in one breath? What can the marriage relationship teach us about the relationship between Christ and the church?

Well the following are some thoughts:
  • There is a passionate love between Christ and the church. The love is not distant and cold, but warm and passionate. It is a love to take joy in, it is a love that Christ takes joy in. I don't think Song of Songs is primarily an allegory for Christ's relationship with the church, but is about the passionate love between a husband and wife. However if we read it in light of Eph 5:31-32 I think does say something about the love between Christ and the church. Chapter 2:16 says "My lover is mine and I am his..." I love that! Christ is ours, and we are His! We belong to Him, and He belongs to us!!
  • There is a desire to protect the relationship from outside distractions and attacks. One might call this a jealous love. Christ does not want any competitors for the church's love. Perhaps this is why the Bible refers to loving the world as adultery (E.g. Jer 3; Eze 16, 23; Hos 1; Mt 12:39 etc). We must be careful that the heart of the church belongs to Christ, not money, not influence and not other kinds of worldly gain. We must not seek after other lovers. We must be faithful to Christ as He is faithful to us. As Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure".
  • There is a longing between Christ and the church for the final consummation (see Rev 19:6-9). There is relationship between Christ and the church, but it is a "here, but not yet". This is the eschatalogical tension we live in. The tension between a yet to be married couple is a metaphor for this longing that exists between Christ and the church for the wedding supper of the Lamb. He longs to be with us, and we long for Him.
  • Revelation 19:7-8 talks about the bride making herself ready, wearing "fine linen, bright and clean". This talks about a season of preparation for the wedding, and as a couple prepares for their wedding and their married life together, so the church must prepare herself for her marriage with Christ. I think that this means more than just preparing for the WEDDING DAY but also preparing for the LIFE OF MARRIAGE.
  • The Genesis 2 account of the creation of Adam and Eve is beautiful. In verse 22, God takes a rib from Adam and creates Eve. In verse 24 it says "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" It struck me today that it's almost that they become one flesh AGAIN. This also is an interesting picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. The church finds its source in Christ, and will again become one with him. In the sort of way that a man and woman become one in marriage. Two distinct persons bonded together as one. This is all the more amazing, because our original verses in Ephesians 5 quotes this 24th verse of Genesis 2. This oneness between husband and wife as described here is what Paul is refering to when he says "but I am talking about Christ and the church".

If all this is so, then Jesus whispers to his church: " me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." Song of Songs 2:14b. In response, let the cry of the church to Christ be, "[Your] mouth is sweetness itself; [you are] altogether lovely. [You are] my lover, [You are] my friend," Song of Songs 5:16a.

This all blows my mind!!! And I don't think I'm even really getting more than a glimpse of what is an amazing truth, I would concur with Paul when he calls it "a profound mystery"!!

God bless,


Daniel See said...

Hi Beck, Dan. Thought I'd get the comment ball rolling... Tell me what you think. Is it ok for a husband to jelously desire to monoploise his wife's time and devotion like Jesus does the church? Could this be one area that Christian marriges should NOT be like Christ and the church? Similarly, the union between the bride and the Lamb has two parties, whereas a husband and wife have a third party - Jesus (who demands all of our devotion, not half nor a third)... So how should it work??

PS. Looking forward to your anti-prosperity rants!

Bec said...

Hi Dan,

I don't think Jesus wants to jealously monopolise the church's time and attention. If that were so there would be no 2nd greatest commandment. It'd just be "Love God" and the second greatest would be refer to commandment #1! And all he would want us to do is spend quiet time with him, while the world went to hell.

What I think God jealously covets is our faithfulness, and that no one else is in HIS PLACE in our lives. Clearly there is appropriate places for others to be in our lives and our affections that does not compete with our relationship with God.

Yeah I dunno about the two parties / three parties bit. Although if you introduce trinitarian theology into it the union between the lamb & bride could be a union of 2 or 4 ;) And also since the bride is all the believers through out history, it could be 3 on God's side and how ever many billion on our side...

Can rant, will rant ;)