My father had a persistent question growing up: What was God’s deal? The old, old story went as such: God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. But why? My father’s calculus was this: if God, you know, God, a divine being, eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, would bother with finite, sinful humans, He had to have a reason. The few times he asked this question, he was met with a simple, “well God is love, so his love surpasses what we know.”
And neither party was wrong. God is love (1 John 4:8) and His ways of expressing His love are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). However, the Bible also reveals something of God’s motivation in loving us. Ephesians 5 says that Christ loved the church as a husband loves his wife, and “gave Himself up for her.” From the beginning Christ has desired a bride. Even in creation, God is called our Husband (Isaiah 54:5). When man fell, utterly marring what God had created to be His wife, Christ had to shed His blood to redeem us, to restore His bride. The divine title in Revelation 21, when the wife of the lamb is presented, is the Lamb, because His sacrifice on the cross was for that moment. Eternally, the Lamb will be on the throne with His wife, the church.
the Bible also reveals something of God’s motivation in loving us
The cross was motivated by love, not by divine nice-ness. Christ wanted someone to marry. To qualify us, to prepare us, He had to die on our behalf to deal with our sinful nature, and to wash us and beautify us (5:26). The author of Hebrews goes into even more detail: 12:2- “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame”. What was the Lord’s joy? What did He look to at the moment of greatest suffering? The church. All He did was for the church, His bride.
We talk about what we call “the Divine Romance” on this website a lot. We feel it bears repeating, not because it is a hidden truth in the Bible but because it directly impacts the way we live our daily Christian life. In this case, we need to have a change in how we view and respond to the cross. Instead of being only grateful (which we are) we should respond with love. Christ loved the church, and to marry her, he died on the cross. We respond to His love by loving Him. The next time you hear about God’s love, don’t only think of Christ hanging on the cross, realize that He did that to make you a part of His bride, so that He marry the church and finally have the desire of His heart.
This is a wonderful perspective and an aspect that much of the Church has probably not considered! Even from the beginning of time, we can see that the desire of God’s heart was to share in intimate relationship with mankind. Since the breaking of that union (through the sin of Adam and Eve), God the Father has been carving out a way (through Jesus) to reconcile what was lost, namely, the deepest relationship known to man, which is that between a husband and wife. It is an all-knowing, perfectly-unified, life-giving relationship. A relationship (unlike any other) in which we are fully known (Psalm 139:1-4) and the secrets of our hearts are laid bare…yet we are loved with an everlasting love. It is no wonder that Paul placed such emphasis on the earthly relationship between husband and wife, saying “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32), for, though other family relationships are precious and treasured, there is none quite so deep as that between a Husband and His Bride!