My Lovely One
There's a lady I know,
Does this remind you of anything? Anyone? Recognise the feeling from your past? Perhaps from the present? Allow me to suggest that this experience, so common to man, might be shared by his creator. We are so familiar with the idea that the church will be the bride of Christ that we lose track of the present (lopsided) love affair between them. Make no mistake, this is a real love, a real longing. The Church is his lovely one, the one he cares about with a passion that is frightening, and a single-mindedness that is awesome. Why? Who knows what triggers love! Who really understands it? But it is real. It is not just what makes the world go round; it is what brought it into existence in the first place, shaped it, and now sustains it as a home for the object of that love.
Years ago when very young in the faith, I heard and joined in discussions about what a church was. How many people made up a church? Did it need ministers/pastors/elders/etc? What of the different denominations? Were all the churches in one town to be regarded as one? Which church was the right one? How should we deal with the others? vain and futile were our debates. It has taken many years for me to understand that there is only one church and all who are born of the spirit of God are in it, and all who are not, are not. These people are fused into one church by the spirit that gave them newness of life. these people are collectively the object of God's affections, his desire and his actions throughout time. Impressive? Staggering.
Many of life's elements around us are models or analogies showing us how God views us, how we are to understand things. God presents himself as our Father, loving and disciplining us. His people under the law were shown as schoolchildren. Now his people, having his spirit, are shown as friends. These analogies are not just convenient; they are designed to reveal to us the relationship between God and his creation; to make us aware of how things are. Adam and Eve were not just husband and wife. They were not just declared to be one flesh but were one flesh since Eve was made from Adam's body. A model that shows us how he views marriage. Now consider that God views his collected people is as a bride to be. Christ and his church will be one. The church will be the bride of Christ. He wants it. He truly longs for it to come about.
Earlier I referred to the lopsided love affair for this is surely how it seems. Christ courts his bride-to-be: she hardly notices him. It is hard for her to be free of the old habits of the world. Free she is but so often remembers the feel of the old chains, the fetters that held her in bondage. So much of what she does pays but lip service to love, so often does she avoid really looking at him. If only she would! If only she would forget the chains of old, the cares she was once trained to, and give herself to the affairs of his love!
The following is a hymn, by Joy Palmer I think, who many years ago expressed beautifully the Bride and Bridegroom relationship between the Church and the Lord Jesus Christ, drawing somewhat from the Song of Solomon:
Thou dost seek a bride all pure and holy,