adapted from Tabletalk, July 1998
It was amazing, but not in a positive sense. As weddings go, it had to be one of the most disturbing ever. She obviously knew little of the man she was about to marry. All of us at the wedding seemed to have a gut-level disquiet about her lack of insight into his true heart, his convictions, and the depth of his suffering.
You see, the groom was different from the bride – very different. He knew her so well. One had to wonder at his patience with her shallowness during the whole ceremony, and the whole courtship for that matter. As amazing as it sounds, he loved her. He loved her more than any other groom has loved a bride.
He surely loves her because of who he is, and not because of who she is.”
He would gently and beautifully probe by question and statement into her deepest failures and wretched past with endearing willingness to know and help with it all. And she sometimes hated it. She despised his desire to help her on the deepest levels of her hurts and horrid experiences. She would defend her superficiality by calling his pursuit “bothersome,” “invasive,” “painful,” unnecessary,” and as hard as this may be to believe, “proof that he did not love her!”
She not only disdained his remarkable love, she was heard publicly to defame her own beloved for such action and to defend her superficiality as “real love,” “true relating.” She spoke of it without a tinge of embarrassment. She was truly certain that not knowing him well and not being known by him well were the essence of true intimacy. “Keep it safe! Stay away from deep truths about each other. It only hurts and causes unneeded self-disclosure on both your parts. Besides, he might leave you if he really knew you well, and you know you can’t fully understand his heart or ways. So ignore them. Keep it light.”
Ironic isn’t it? He knew her so much better than she thought, and valiantly pursued knowing her more. Perhaps there is a lesson here, though. He surely loves her because of who he is, and not because of who she is. There’s the lesson! His affection for her just proves the wonder of his character all the more!
So that’s why the wedding was so amazing. His poise at all times, even during the wedding, said, “He knows something that none of the rest of us knows, least of all his bride.” One just gets the impression that he is up to something amazingly good for her.
This ends the parable, but only begins the conviction. For such is the heart of the church who ignores the profoundest wonder of a sovereign Savior in pursuit of a sordid bride. If we see the dangers and dismal violations of true intimacy in this parable about marriage, can we not see the same problems in our reductionistic approach to evangelism and preaching that avoids the true description of the Groom and the bride? To deny his character as sovereign, and to avoid admitting that our character is sinful, because “it’s painful, invasive, bothersome, and not necessary” is to deny that the essence of salvation is a real relationship between real people and the real triune personality, God.
In preaching and evangelism, we seem to want it to be quick and nice and manageably under control. “Heaven forbid” that we should have to enter a lifestyle of evangelism that entails living and speaking of Christ as openly and easily as we do sports scores and movie reviews. That’s not as easy, not as quick as simply presenting a tract or speaking only once in a formal visitation associated with a church activity. We want it to be nice for as long as we can keep it that way because then we at least feel in control and it seems manageable. Of course, our sense of being in control is an illusion to begin with. The quick, nice, and manageable is doomed if we approach evangelism and preaching so as to introduce a real bride to a real Groom who pursues like no other. Thanks be to God that the Groom pursues in spite of our seeking to arrange “a blind date” with his bride. Open our eyes, perfect and precious Groom!