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God's glorious mission plan for His people is revealed in the marriage covenant (Ephesians 5:31-32). We often do not share the gospel because we do not sufficiently know God's pland and trust Him. This is part 2 of 4 on Ultimate Love, Extreme Missions.
"FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32).
￼Paul starts by quoting the Lord Creator way back in Genesis 2:24.
"For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
Paul explains that the Lord was not just speaking of marriage here (though he also was) but marriage of a higher kind, that between Himself and His people.
Ephesians 5:32 describes this spiritual marriage as one between Christ and the church. Marriage is perhaps the most intimate and exquisite picture we have as it is deeply entrenched in our view of life through the way it touches our deepest dreams, longings and hopes. Marriage also forms one of the clearest pictures of the relationship God wants to have with His people.
|Please note that we have several articles on Ephesians 5:31-32. This one focuses on missions and uses marriage as an illustration. Others include A Great Marriage which focuses on principles to having a good marriage and Building a Great Marriage, chapter 2 of our book, entitled Building a Great Marriage. The last has much more detail than this message.|
Now let us assume that we have a beautiful picture of marriage in mind, one with love, long-lasting relationships, deep trust, sharing of intimacies and joys, etc. Many individuals are not acquainted with a pleasant notion of marriage due to pain, loneliness and bitterness. It seems to be a distant dream for them. But this love is real, if not in your marriage or your parents' marriage, certainly in the Lord's love for God's people! God really wants such intimacy with us.
God's people are secure in God's love. Think about the deep needs of man: security, being loved, being cared for, knowing someone is there to help, etc., they are all fully seen in God's love for His people through Christ.
We see pictures of this intimacy in the Garden of Eden, not only through the beautiful paradise He arranged for them but His willingness to walk alongside them and talk with them.
We wonder, "Why is the big, big Creator talking to small people like Adam and Eve?" Or "Why is the invisible mighty Creator wasting His time with a few creatures?"
This picture of marriage is taken from God's hope for a deep relationship with His people. The plan is set. Marriage as we know it in our families is a prophetic picture of what God is bringing into reality.
So all at once we are being challenged thinking what God really is like. Why is He wanting to be so intimate with the people He made?
Or we might be asking, "How is it possible that God wants to be that intimate with us anyhow?" What is spiritual intimacy?
This line of thinking brings us back to where we can see the excellencies of our God and His plans, especially when we find we are the one loved and enjoyed. For many of us, we have never experienced such love and acceptance.
We are not some mere pawns on the board being pushed about and being sacrificed as necessary but prized, treasured and delighted in. Paul is speaking about marriage, but something much greater, the covenant marriage between God and man that goes throughout time. Nothing shall break the love of God toward His people.
What we see and experience on earth is just a glimpse of this close and desirable relationship between God and man, the church.
God is good and loving. He is drawing people into His presence to fulfill the greatest needs and desires of our hearts. We need not fear that the Gospel is something to shy away from. Tell people of your Great Lover!
People are lonely, rejected and full of hatred. The Gospel introduces them not only to the means of finding forgiveness and cleansing from all of their guilt through Jesus but introduces them to that deep love, peace, value and joy that comes into their lives through God's love.
Often we do not share the Gospel, because we doubt its powerful truths.
￼At the same time we should remember that the way we share the Gospel should convey God's love. This does not mean we ignore speaking about eternal judgment, but we should not be rude in our conversation. Value the people we speak to. Listen to them.
One way I just read in a magazine is to put a creation magazine or fossil on your desk. In this way people will ask significant questions through which you can share more about the Lord.
Let's further expand this concept in two ways (though there are more ways to do it) so that we can be more awed and moved by the love of God in Christ. We will look at both the depth of His love as well as the preparation of the bride for the wedding.