“And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” - Revelation 22:17
|Kempton New Church|
June is a month for weddings! It can be very touching when friends get married, reminding us of our own vows and giving us hope for the future.
Think how dramatically the Lord changed our view of marriage when He came into the world. The ancient Israelites were allowed polygamy. They had a law that if a man’s brother died childless, he should take his brother’s wife and beget children by her. They also had very lax divorce laws. They viewed marriage only in terms of this natural world, as a way to beget sons to help with the family farm and be heirs to carry on the family tree.
Jesus reminded us that from the beginning, God created us male and female and said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. So, then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:5-6, Genesis 2:24) It was only because of the hardness of our hearts that for a while, He permitted polygamy and easy divorce. But if we are willing to trust Him and do the necessary work, the Lord has far better things in mind for us.
The Lord calls Himself the Bridegroom and the Husband, and He calls the Church His bride and wife. (See, for example, in Hosea 2:16-23, Matthew 9:15, Revelation 19:6, 21:2, 9.) The Church, His bride, consists of everyone in the whole world who believes in Him and loves Him by keeping His commandments. Like a bridegroom, the Lord loves us. He seeks our free consent to come live with Him forever in His house in heaven. He never compels or manipulates us, because love must be given and received freely. In this way He gives us an example of what a truly loving marriage can be.
There are stages in every marriage where there’s hard work to be done, learning how to communicate with each other and work as a team. We have to resist the selfish and materialistic tendencies we all have. We cannot receive the gift of true love unless we look to the Source, the Lord God, and keep His commandments. But if we do follow Him, little by little we can work through our difficulties. Honeymoon states can come back now and then. Emanuel Swedenborg wrote, “The conjugial union of one man with one wife is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian religion,” the place we feel closest to the Lord.
Have a fruitful summer!
Rev. Lawson M. Smith