From start to finish, the Bible describes God as a faithful and good husband who shows such unabashed love for his beloved that it would make any wife blush with pleasure.
The Bible is where we go to learn about who God is, and what he’s like, and if we follow his whole story from beginning to end, we learn that God takes his wedding vows seriously.
Of course, we know that God will be faithful and true. And of course, we believe that God will protect and provide for his bride. These are things we expect of any good husband. But the Bible reminds us, constantly, that God is interested in far more than mere marital duty.
God tells us that he longs to see his beloved’s face light up when he enters the room. He wants her to love him back with all her heart. He wants her to think about him, talk to him about anything, walk the world with him, trust his character, and find joy and rest in his presence.
God as a good husband wants his bride to live unhindered and free in the home he made for her to enjoy with him. He created this beautiful world with his beloved’s pleasure and partnership in mind.
God’s people – his beloved church – is his bride.
But we also learn from the scriptures, the Old Testament and the new, that God’s love is not conditional. He won’t force his bride to submit and obey (or else). He won’t force her to be intimate, or thankful, or respectful, or even to love him back with a modicum of warmth.
God won’t force his bride to love him back. Why? Because that’s not true love, after all, is it? No, God isn’t interested in any begrudging marital relations. He wants mutual wedded joy! He wants a connection that tastes and feels like the deepest, sweetest, most wonderful friendship.
God wants his beloved’s best. He desires to see her flourish. And yet he knows that such flourishing can only be found in an unforced, intimate, and committed union with him.
But wouldn’t a bride who was loved in this manner want to please her beloved? Please him, not out of fear or duty, but out of the security that he always finds her lovable?
If you count yourself a part of the people of God, then God has married himself to you and you have said “I do” to him.
I do trust you.
I do believe you.
I do want to be intimate with you.
I do want to partner with you in your world.
I do want to honor you with my body, my desires, my will in all things.
Thank you for marrying me and loving me so well.
And if we have eyes to see this mystery, then perhaps we’ll begin to appreciate (to some minuscule degree) what lengths God will go to win the heart of his people.
And we’ll look again at Jesus.
And perhaps what is coldly suspicious in our unbelieving hearts will begin to thaw as we wonder at this kind of love.
Perhaps something settled and rigid and closed in our minds will shift, and our eyes will light up with new warmth and tenderness.
Perhaps our defenses will crack a bit more open in response to being intimately seen and known, and still cherished?
And maybe God’s people will come to understand that no identity we claim is more important than keeping our own vow to ‘love back’ our faithful God. To love him back with all our heart, mind, and strength. To face him – receive him warmly – with all our body and soul.
And maybe, secure in this love, we will live holy and pleasing lives as the radiant Bride of Christ in the world.
Shalom to you and yours today, dear Church, for you are so loved