I fear we are often so worried about preserving the purity of Christ’s Bride we lose sight of her joy. We want to be faithful. But if we don’t take time to lounge in the presence of the One who called us with His grace, our commitment turns into a cold contract void of passion. If you met a bride who wasn’t madly in love with the man she was about to marry, wouldn’t you be concerned? Would it be enough for her to say, “I promised I would marry him?” Absolutely not! Marriage is a promise, but it is so much more.
Marriage is a joyous occasion, and the blessing of being in love, together with the knowledge another person has pledged his or her life to you, is found nowhere else. We live for Christ because He died for us. Our acts of personal sacrifice aren’t always easy, but they are fulfilling. Pouring out one’s life for another is natural for two people in love. Christ’s love for us is perfect. Our love for Him is limited by our imperfections, but made perfect by the Holy Spirit within us.
During my Bible college years, a school administrator liked to refer to Jesus as our “Lover.” In much the same way I have a hard time viewing myself as the Bride of Christ, thinking of Jesus as my Lover seemed a bit creepy. Lovers buy one another expensive meals and flowers. They long to be in each other’s arms, and they discover a depth of intimacy that involves every aspect of their being.
Could this be said of Jesus? Does He hold us? He did say we are His sheep and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28). Is He extravagant? Perhaps He doesn’t send flowers, but what could be more extravagant than His live poured out at Calvary? Can we define our relationship as intimate? We must. Who knows us better than Christ? In order to heal our sin with His wounds, He must know the darkest, most private place in our hearts. In turn, we pursue intimacy with Him. This was Paul’s desire when wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10 NIV).
It looks as though my college administrator was right after all. Jesus really is our Lover. No wonder Charles Wesley called Him, “Jesus, Lover of my soul.” He came for us, loved us, gave His live for us, called us to Himself, and came to live in us. We are blessed to be in love with One who gave Himself so completely, even before we chose Him.
This perspective moves beyond the much maligned idea of a spiritual blessing in our culture. We become obsessed with signs of worldly success and claim they are signs of Christ’s love for us and our faithfulness to Him. But is this really the case? As a human marriage passes through the seasons of life, is the size of the diamond in our wedding band enough to remind us how much we care for one another? Does the home we live in or the car we drive guarantee we are loved? Or do we know we have a blessed marriage when we cling to each other, even as the things we possess are taken away, including our health?
We are blessed to have a Lover like Jesus. I am still not completely comfortable with the term, but I believe it to be biblical. Maybe if I was a bit less inhibited to have Jesus as a Lover, I would be a lot more likely to live in His blessings.