Only a few more days until I marry my best friend and my soul mate. It has taken a tremendous amount of time and planning (mostly on her part), but the day is almost here. It is going to be a very special day that we will share with family and friends. The most important visitor that day will be God though. His presence at the event is what will make the event truly special.
Thinking about the upcoming wedding, it got me thinking about God and weddings.
Throughout the Old Testament, God referred to His people as His wife. The prophets are full of references about Israel’s marriage to God. Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding. In Matthew 22, Jesus uses a wedding to teach some great spiritual truths.
Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV)
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
One of the conclusions I draw from all this is pretty simple: God loves weddings.
The real question is…why? I don’t think it’s the appetizers or dessert bar. I’m pretty sure it’s not the flowers. And I doubt it’s the self-composed vows. I think God loves weddings for a couple of reasons. The first one is that I believe God likes to see people come together. Whether in community as friends or in marriage, God is about togetherness rather than separateness. In fact, we can say that from God’s perspective, isolation rarely results in good; community often does.
But I think there’s another reason why God loves weddings. He likes them because weddings are supposed to be a walking, talking, living, breathing illustration of the relationship between His Son and the church. Paul points it out explicitly in Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)
Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In this chapter Paul is saying that a marriage really isn’t about a man or a woman. It’s about Christ and the church. Ideally, the way it’s supposed to happen, when someone looks at a marriage of Christ-followers, they ought to be able to see the relationship between Christ and the church lived out and demonstrated. They should see selfless love, lasting commitment, and complete intimacy.
I think the intimacy factor is why God chose marriage to be the everyday illustration of His relationship to His people. This is found throughout the whole bible. Marriage is meant to be the most intimate of relationships, where one person fully knows and is fully known by another. There is meant to be no shame as the two people live together in total honesty, and … well, nakedness. Funny to say, but true.
Such is God’s desire for His people. He wants such a drastic level of intimacy with us, a naked relationship, that really the only way to fully picture it is through marriage.
My hope for my marriage is that I can display the love Christ had for His church through the love I demonstrate towards Steph. If I can do that, we will have a love that will grow and flourish. It will be a beautiful and wonderful day, but just the beginning of better things to come.