I’ve had the opportunity to either attend or participate in five weddings since March. The last one was my daughter’s wedding which I both walked her down the isle and officiated the ceremony. What a joy filled time weddings are. They bring out emotions and feelings that we sometimes don’t feel at any other occasion. There is a particular kind of joy at a wedding. Have you ever noticed or thought about that? We are touched and moved deeply when we observe a bride and groom’s joy expressed throughout the ceremony and the reception. We are sometimes moved to tears at different points throughout the experience. Why is that?
It’s because weddings express, reveal and mean more than just a man and woman making a lifelong commitment to one another, as important, beautiful and sacred as that is. The Apostle Paul gave us a hint of that in Ephesians 5, when, after his teaching about the roles of the wife and husband, he referred to a man leaving his father and mother to be joined to his wife as a mystery. He goes on to say that what he really is talking about and has in mind is Christ and the Church. Ah, there is a spiritual reality involved! Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that
“God has made everything beautiful in its time. And also, he has set eternity in their heart . . .”
God has graced us with the beauty of marriage, but He wants us to see more. He wants us to think long term and with eternity in mind! He wants us to see with spiritual eyes. God, in common grace, which believers and unbelievers alike experience, is SHOUTING to the world, “this is how much I love you”. This is what I did in sending my one and only Son to earth.
Christ gave His life for His bride. Christ suffered and died a horrible death for His bride. Christ came to earth to rescue His bride, those who had rebelled and because of their sin died and became separated from God. Christ loves us perfectly. Christ loves us tenderly and yet disciplines us when necessary. Christ leads, guides and directs us, just as the groom leads the marriage dance. Christ, out of extraordinary love and joy, smiles upon His bride. Oh, there is so much that God is revealing at weddings! God is speaking! God wants to get our attention at these events. But are we listening and noticing?
In His grace, God reveals Himself and His love for His bride the church at weddings. It’s His picture of how much He loves His people. This is why being part of a local church is so important. Every local church is a smaller expression of the larger universal church of which we are part if we are in Christ. Christ is the head of the church. The New Testament epistles were, in part, given to instruct, guide, rebuke at times and direct believers in their relationship to the local church. Tim Keller, in his fantastic book, The Meaning of Marriage, quotes commentator G.W. Knight about Ephesians 5 saying,
“Paul saw that when God designed the original marriage, He already had Christ and the church in mind. This is one of the great purposes of marriage: to picture the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people forever.”
So, the next time you go to a wedding know that those emotions, feelings and all that you experience are the grace of God revealing and expressing His great love for you and His desire for you to be part of His family called the church.