Do you know anyone who has been married for a long time? My Grandparents were married for 65 years. For as long as I can remember they were to me “one flesh.” They could complete each other’s sentences. They could read each other’s minds. Just to watch them in the car and see how he would miss a sign that she already saw. They could be in different rooms in the house and know exactly what was going on in the other room. There were zero secrets between them. They shared everything. They were “one flesh.” One day my Grandfather had a dizzy spell and fell. When they took him to the hospital he then had a stroke. He didn’t last very long and it was sad to see him go so fast. My Grandmother didn’t live even a year without him before she just gave up. I believe this was inevitable. They were “one flesh.” I miss them both and know they are eternally “one flesh” in some way that I don’t understand but will find out when I see them again.
Do you know that our relationship with Jesus is the same? We are actually in union with Him.
I was preparing for my first wedding this weekend and I read these verses again and something really jumped out at me:
Eph 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Which mystery? Is the mystery that a marriage is like Christ and the church? That is the usual interpretation. It is often interpreted this way so the “hierarchy” can be established between a man and a woman. Used wrongly, with a wrong understanding of who Jesus is, you have just laid down some laws about marriage. That isn’t the point of this passage. No more law, Grace instead. So I saw this verse very differently. What if the mystery is Christ with us is like a marriage, as one flesh? That got your attention. We can easily agree that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. But I believe it goes much deeper than that. I believe that our relationship with Jesus isn’t cohabitation but union.
Back in my Grandparent’s example, they were not two people who shared stuff. They weren’t two people who cohabited. My Grandfather didn’t give rules to my Grandmother to live by “or else.” My Grandmother may have been firm at times about serious issues like taking out the trash but she loved him like she loved herself. They didn’t do everything perfectly but they did everything together. They used to tell me how they couldn’t be apart. One time my Grandfather went to a meeting (he was a preacher) and had to be away from my Grandmother for a week! He got so sick apart from her that he came home early. That is “one flesh.” That is union. Some might say “but didn’t they lose their identity? Isn’t is awful to say they weren’t their own person?” Nope. They were more complete as a union then they would have been separate.
That is our union with Jesus. We are His bride. We join Him just like a man joins a woman in marriage. We are bound by a life covenant. He gave His life for me and He will never die again. I died with Him on the cross and received everlasting life from Him. We have a covenant that can’t be broken. Neither of us can die again.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
1 Corinthians 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. (ESV)
John 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me
This bond includes our bodies.
Rom 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Col 1:27 To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.
As we grow in this truth, union with Christ, we are transformed. We no longer have a unique, independent, fallen identity but we find our identity in Christ. Our minds are being renewed to see this truth. We begin to act like Him, hear His voice, complete His sentences, know His emotions, read His mind (actually we have the mind of Christ). We actually begin to look like Him. We are like my Grandparents.
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This transformation, this union, this marriage makes us one with Him. In this union we get to know Him. In our knowing Him we experience eternal life.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent
The whole point of this life on planet Earth is to be in Christ. That is our natural existence. We were meant for relationship but just like a marriage it is all about becoming one with Him. We may not understand. We may not get it at all but we are in Christ and He is in us. A man and a woman become one flesh but they aren’t actually sharing a hip or arm or anything weird like that. They are joined at the Spirit level. They are becoming one at the soul level. They share in their emotions and experience. They do life together. They even begin to look alike over time. They complete each other’s sentences. They can read each other’s minds. They truly become one.
We have the same with Jesus in the Holy Spirit. His Spirit is joined with ours. His desires are mine and mine are His. Our will becomes one. Our emotions are tied together so we are joined at the soul level. The Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies so we have a connection in the flesh. Rule following and mastery of behavior has nothing at all with being joined. If I am joined I get to live like I am joined. Married people live like they are married. They aren’t burdened by marriage. It is a privilege and natural inclination. It feels right to be married. You GET TO be married. It feels right to be in Jesus. We get to be in union with Jesus. The cross guarantees this truth. The cross removes doubt and shame and condemnation. In a marriage all doubt and shame is removed. You have given your lives to one another. God gave His life for us. In marriage you share everything. In Christ we share everything. In marriage there is no fear of rejection or frustration or nakedness. In Christ we can’t be rejected. We are accepted. We are in the beloved. We are His children and lover and bride and friend. He is absolutely perfectly good and loving. That is what makes Him God. That is what He looks like as Jesus. That is what manifests as the cross. Our purpose in this life is to be joined with Him. He picks up the hard load. He is the provider like the husband. He protects like the husband. We are one with Him. We aren’t in one day and out another.
Like a marriage we don’t have to date anymore. If you still want to date then you haven’t experienced the joy of marriage. If you want to date then you really don’t know the love of your spouse. If you want to date you have missed the fact that she has already died for you. As we experience the married life with Jesus we don’t want to date anymore. We don’t want to seek pleasure and satisfaction outside of this union. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.
That is the privilege of union. That is the beauty of marriage. That is what God intended all along. The cross demonstrates His love for us and so much more. The cross removes any history that keeps us from getting married to Jesus. We get to live in union with our creator. That is pretty good news if you ask me.