Saturday, September 6, 2008
Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away
This morning I had a wonderful, dual privilege. I played my trumpet at a wedding. I neither met nor spoke with either the bride or the groom, but I got to witness, along with many others, their union before God. The ceremony was brief-- a long 20 minutes-- with very little pomp and circumstance compared to the roughly 20 weddings in the US I've attended. Many things about the ceremony were very different from the way weddings are done in America, but that wasn't the thing on my mind as the marriage miracle unfolded as I looked on from the balcony.
What was on my mind was what marriage is to be a picture of. Many times in the New Testament, the relationship between Christ and the Church is described as the relationship between a groom and his bride. The thing that I think that many people, including me, miss about marriage is that Christ and the Church are the real thing, and that marriage between a man and a woman on earth is a type of that eternal Marriage. This is evident in how the relations between husband and wife are described in Ephesians 5. It says that wives are to submit to their husbands since the church submits to Christ. It says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and laid down His life for her. It does NOT say that the church submits to Christ because wives submit to their husbands, nor does it say that Christ laid down His life for the church because this is how husbands love their wives. That is absurd.
I am beginning to think that part of the reason that marriage is deteriorating among Christians at the same rate as it is deteriorating in the culture is that we have forgotten which marriage is the rule. When we look around at how human marriages are, we begin to let failing, selfish marriages be our standard, our measuring stick. But as Christians, the example, the rule for marriage is not the way other people are executing this covenant, but rather how Christ and His Bride carry out the Covenant. This is a much higher standard, and maybe in our disposable culture, it is "too hard" for people treat marriage the way the Christ does. Christ doesn't call His followers to ease, there is no where in His covenant with us an escape clause. Christ's marriage with the Church will NEVER end, no matter how many marital problems they have. No matter how unfaithful the Church is, no matter how many other lovers she runs after, this marriage never ends, it's for forever.
For the man and woman who wed this morning the marriage picture is now complete, they have been made one flesh. They have gone off to their wedding banquet with all of their guests to celebrate their feast. I hope and pray for them, and for all men and their brides, that their marriages will be in the image of the Christ and the Church. I pray that the brides will submit to their husbands as to Christ and that the husbands will love their wives as Christ, giving himself up for her, loving her as he loves himself.
Some day soon, the picture of marriage will be complete for the Church too. On that day, a trumpet-- one that doesn't sound anything like the brass instrument I play-- will sound and Christ will come to take His bride home to her wedding banquet. And then Christ and His church will enjoy union for the rest of eternity. Maranatha Jesus!
Please pray for marriage! Pray that Christians would return to a faithful, sober-minded understanding of this covenant, that they would treat marriage like the eternal covenant that it is. Pray that couples wouldn't see marriage as a way to "prove their love" for one another, but rather as a way to mutually serve the Lord, to serve and love one another, and to nurture children, should the Lord provide them.
Pray also for contentment and discernment for unmarried people. God calls some people to marriage and He calls others to singleness. Pray that He would give wisdom and discernment to single people, whether they should marry or embrace life-long celibacy.
Note: The photo I've included on this blog is not from today's wedding, but from my brother's wedding in December. I took no pictures during the wedding today.