Marriage paints a vivid picture of Christ’s love for the church. Paul’s uses the marriage relationship to teach about the church at the end of Ephesians 5. Too often this passage is addressed to marriage. While Paul agrees and consents to this, it is not the point he is making! Paul is describing the passionate unity between Christ and the community of those who believe and follow in Him.
I do not believe Song of Songs describes Christ love for the church, but the book describes what marriage love looks like. Love is not a feeling or a vain emotion. It runs deep.
“Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol ; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.” ~ Song of Songs 8:6
Church is not trivial
Jesus died for His church… We forget this. While he died for you and me as people, He died for his church. He loves His church, and in giving Himself up for her, the church became a key purpose. Church is not a club, program, theological sub-point, intangible philosophical idea or a spiritual option. The church is the center of Christ’s attention. He gave Himself up for her.
Church is not ready
Jesus purposefully gave Himself up for the church. Paul describes the process of cleansing, purifying and readying the church. Getting ready with an aim for perfection is not an overnight task. Jesus’ sacrifice aimed at perfecting the church, and presenting the church blameless. Put another way, Jesus is aware of what is going on, but He isn’t giving up until the bride is ready.
Church is not leftovers
Jesus views the church as He views Himself. We do not have the mental capability to wrap our minds around this. Jesus is not drill sergeant Bob with a cigar in mouth shouting at us to drop and give him 20 as He pushes us to become a fine sanctified unit. Jesus doesn’t worry about His glory and, oh yeah, also the church. Jesus cherishes and nourishes the church. It is a picture of love and tenderness.
Church is Christ’s
Jesus will become one with His bride. What or how this will look, I do not know. Paul states that “this mystery is great.” Jesus paid for the church, Jesus purified the church, and Jesus will be with His church. Jesus did not, does not, nor will He treat the church as trivial or as leftovers. Jesus knows there is still work to be done, but He hasn’t given up. Love runs deep.
The bottom line:
Rather than runaway, maybe we need to wash up and finish getting ready. Church is elusive to us. With the alarming number of young people leaving the church, perhaps we need to look back at what the church is and should be as a starting point. For sure, we need curb the criticism of church. I’m not saying we ignore things, but the tone needs changing. We need to view church as Christ does. To claim following Christ, but harbor disdain for the church misses the mark. Perhaps people and culture treat the church as trivial, as dirty and leftovers because we do. Perhaps its time we medicate on what Paul is actually communicating via marriage in Ephesians 5.