I happen, by the grace of God, to be married to a wonderful wife named Jackie.
God has graced our lives with an amazing union that is a gift from Him. We have unity in our religious beliefs, child-training philosophies, love of beautiful creations, frugality, and many other things. Our lives are united and entwined in countless ways. And we practice loving each other, not just with romance but by doing good things for each other. Love is the Super Glue that holds us together.
So, you might understand how I would react if someone said to me, “Fr. Charles, I love you. I think you’re great. But you’ve got a real witch for a wife. She’s nothing but trouble, and I can’t stand to be around her. She’s the stupidest, ugliest, most unpleasant person I know, as well as being a hypocrite. I’m happy to talk with you on the phone or text you, but I’ll never enter into your house as long as she’s there.”
Love me, love my wife.
Now in this human analogy, there may actually be times where one spouse is pleasant and nice to hang out with, and the other one is an absolute train wreck.
But this is not the case with God and His Bride, the Church.
For while God is perfect and we all know the Church is not, Jesus Christ has a special relationship with His Bride. This special relationship is what this book is all about and why you need to be an active member of a local church.
But first, a little theology.
Did you know that God has taken a Bride?!
It’s true. The story of God and man, which is the story of the Bible, is a love story. It’s a story about how God created man to spend the rest of his life in close communion with Him. Sadly, as we know, man has divorced himself from God by His sins: this divorce is the source of the Hells on earth that we create for ourselves.
We were created for the deepest fellowship with God. In fact, the Bible begins and ends with a wedding!
In the beginning (Gen 1), the first wedding is that of God and man. But there’s also a human marriage at the beginning of the Bible: the marriage of Adam and Eve. When God created Adam, he said of Adam: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” And so, God created Eve for Adam.
Moses, the divinely inspired author of Genesis, says: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
In other words, from the beginning, God created men and women to come together and become one flesh. Two people become one person, or relationship, in marriage. A husband and his wife are no longer to live for themselves but for the other: they do this through self-giving love.
Maleness and femaleness in general, and a husband and wife in particular, picture who God is for us. Who is God? He is three Persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – but one God.
For this reason, it is men and women together, and especially husbands and wives, who picture God for us. God has imprinted His very nature on our bodies!
St. Paul explains the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church in terms of a marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes about how the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Jesus is the head of the Church. Women are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to love their wives. Husbands and wives are to love each other as they love their own bodies.
But it turns out that Paul is talking about more than husbands and wives. He says He’s talking about Christ and the Church! In verses 31-32 he says, “’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
I told you that the Bible also ends with a marriage, which we find in Revelation 21:1-3, where St. John refers to the Church as the New Jerusalem. He says:
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
This is where eternal life is going: to a marriage between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.
John also refers to this as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).
Jesus Christ and His wife, the Church, are one.
Therefore, how you treat the Church is how you are treating Jesus.
You really can’t say I love God, whom you haven’t see if you don’t love Jesus’ Bride, whom you have seen.
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