Did you know that all of us are part of a grand love story? It is a love story written by God himself before the world was made or time began.
Today, the world has so distorted and diluted the courtship process that it is sometimes hard to understand how God explains his grand love story. In order to understand our relationship to Christ, we must understand how the ancient world courtship and marriage customs operated.
In those days…
When a man loved a woman, he began to pursue her. The woman’s role was reactionary. Her heart did not belong to him so the suitor had to win it from her. In his quest to win her heart, he showered her with affection, gave her tokens, and performed acts of kindness to show his love for her. The woman had to decide if she would accept the suitor’s affections or reject them. Eventually the suitor would approach the lady’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. If her father approved, he would require a bride-price. The suitor then approached the lady and asked for her hand in marriage. While by this point in the courtship it would probably have been a sure thing, the lady could still reject his offer and walk away from the relationship. If she accepted his hand they become betrothed (or engaged). Unlike modern engagements, these could not be terminated. When two people became engaged, the marriage was already agreed to and the covenant was already in place. The two were still kept apart (intimately) during this time, and would not come together until the wedding day.
Scripture tells us many times that Christ is our bridegroom and that we the Church are his bride. (John 3:27-30, Ephesians 5:22-32) We are betrothed to him and one day there will be a wedding celebration where we will at last come to know him just as we are fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) When that happens we will be made one with him just as a husband and his wife are one. We will become perfect with him and dwell in his glorious presence forever, showering him with respect and admiration.
And this is the Church’s love story…
Christ loved us. He pursued us. We did not seek him nor did we pursue him, for we did not know him nor were our hearts with him. (Romans 3:11) Christ would have to win our hearts. (1 John 4:19) He poured out his love for us on the cross, proving his undying love for us as he took on our sins. When he ascended to the Father, he offered his blood as the bride-price, which the Father accepted. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Christ then came to each one of us when we heard the gospel, offering his hand to us in marriage. He offers his hand to all, for he loved the world entire. (John 3:16) Many will reject his proposal despite all he has done for them. Those of us who accept his hand are betrothed or engaged to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2) Now betrothed, we are promised in marriage to Christ, so the marriage cannot be called off. (Ephesians 1:13) This marriage covenant cannot be broken. (Matthew 19:6, Romans 11:29) We are now destined for marriage with Christ. (Romans 8:29) As our wedding draws near, Christ through the Word cleanses us and prepares us for our wedding day. (Ephesians 5:25-27) On that glorious day when the trumpet sounds, we will at last be joined to Christ as his wife for all eternity. (Revelation 19:7-9)