The most common Scripture read at weddings is found in The Love Chapter of our Bibles.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful,
is not arrogant,
is not rude,
is not self-seeking,
is not irritable,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
My husband wrote this passage into his vows with beautiful, heartfelt, deeply sincere language. I can still hear his boyish, 20 year old voice promising me the world as I held back tears and promised him my everything in return.
Looking back, of course, I can confidently say we knew nothing about the words we spoke, just as we knew nothing of the countless struggles we would face as a married couple.
Still, with beautiful words and exchanging of rings, “I Thee Weds” and a breathless kiss, we danced and sang down the aisle into our new life.
While I had some vague, dreamy understanding that marriage was designed to honor God, I am absolutely certain my definition would never have included the curious verse that reads like a cliff-hanger at the close of The Love Chapter, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
This, my friends, is the hidden key to understanding this magnificent love described in the verses above as well as marriage.
The core purpose of marriage isn’t fantastic lovemaking, having babies, sharing a life partner, going on adventurous dates, or even ministering together for the gospel. The core purpose of marriage is to provide a living, breathing picture of Jesus’ relationship with His People where He is the Groom and His people are His Bride.
“For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it,
just as Christ does for the church,
since we are members of His body.
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.
This mystery is profound,
but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Marriage is God’s “looking glass gift” for us to see Him, love Him, and know Him, and, through those grand explorations, we see and know ourselves as well while He shapes us into the image of His dearly beloved Son. (Romans 8:29) Even if you aren’t married, the gift of marriage is still for you to see and explore this great reflection of what it means to be the Bride of Christ, for you also are Bride. Marriage benefits the whole community to better see what the Lord meant by calling Himself the Bridegroom and His Church, the Bride. (more on that in tomorrow’s Digging Deeper; don’t miss it!)
In our marrying, our lovemaking, our meal preparations and laundry-folding, in our bread-winning, our budget-making, our sin-confessing, and our hand-holding, we are meant to KNOW what it means to be the Bride of Christ!
But the image is murky, so murky.
Even on our best days, it’s still cloudy.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror….”
Every Jesus-following She
is meant to uphold the sacred role of Wife.
If you’re single, lean in to your married friends. Observe their marriages, find a wife who is willing to be transparent (while honoring to her husband and her Lord) about what she’s learning about Jesus through marriage. Cheer her on in her marriage. Urge her to protect it and fight for it. Pray for her marriage. Watch them laugh together and see a reflection of the love the Bridegroom, Christ, has for His Bride, for you!
If you’re married, you are up close and personal to the murky side (and the sweet side) of our present reality while we wait for the Perfect Marriage consummation in Glory!
The right-now-reality-image we see of the Perfect Groom & Bride is like taking Vaseline and swirling it on a mirror and then trying to apply our morning makeup. Murky.
With every deception from the enemy that sneaks into our marriages and every self-soaked sin that twists a knife of pain in our wedded hearts, another layer of Vaseline swirls the surface of our marred looking glass. What was intended to be astoundingly beautiful in the Garden of Eden as Adam beheld his Wife and breathed aloud in awe-filled wonder, She is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23), has been marred.
Every married man and woman, and unmarried observer, attests to the jagged edges of that brokenness in marriage. Sin’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy, which is why the Lord lifts our eyes from the disappointments, hurts, and even pleasurable joys of our marriages, and says, “Remember, the purpose is to point your hearts to ME, not your spouse.”
Our hope doesn’t hang on being a wife or being loved wonderfully by a husband. (which is why singles and marrieds are beautiful gifts to the community of believers by the way!)
Our happiness in marriage doesn’t hinge on either spouse living out Christ’s love perfectly.
Our Hope is our coming Bridegroom.
But that’s then, but what about now?
Same answer, Sister, Christ.
Christ to comfort when our marriage hurts.
Christ to guide us when we realize, again, we can’t fix what’s broken.
Christ to love us when our husband’s try hard, but miss the mark (um, also, just like us!)
Christ to teach us to forgive, because He knows what it’s like to forgive those who hurt and wound and are mean-spirited. Mean-spirited enough to crucify Him. (Also, Sister, that was us too…our sin put innocent Jesus to death as He PAID for the privilege to be our perfect Husband)
We are the Bride who messed up marriage as it was beautifully intended to be.
But we are also the Bride whom the Groom died to save.
And while He waits for us to finally come down the aisle in Eternity and enjoy His presence forever, He has given us a jewel of a gift, marriage. If we look closely amidst delight and sorrow, we can see the outline of what it looks like to be perfectly loved as Bride.
Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!
Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!