A servant’s relationship with his master is based on business and performance, while love and mutual concern is the basis for a friend’s relationship with another friend. Jesus spoke very clearly to His disciples about this deeper level of intimacy that He shared with them when He said,
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s [personal] business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus is saying, “I value you, not just because of how you serve me, but because you share my heart.”
A friend’s value lies not so much in what she does, but in who she is as a personal confidant. God wants to be our friend, and He wants us as His friend. We can experience this friendship level of intimacy, as James 2:23 tells us,
“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.”
Also, Proverbs 22:11 says,
“[She] who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for [her] friend.”Yet even as close as two friends can be, blood runs thicker than water.
As we realize and accept the truth that we are not just God’s lump of clay, sheep, servant, or even friend, but also God’s very own child, we can experience tremendous healing from childhood wounds and disappointments. We can allow God to be the Father or the Mother (He possesses qualities of both genders) that we so desperately need or want. We can be freed from the burden of trying to perform or produce for Him when we understand that He loves us not for what we do, but because of who we are as His daughters. Paul wrote:
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of [daughters]. Because you are [daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:4-6)
As wonderful and healing as the father/child relationship is, the groom/bride relationship promises the most intimate connection of all.
Once a woman becomes a bride, the focus of her life and priorities change and all other people and priorities pale in comparison to this primary love relationship. Again, this metaphor illustrates a much deeper truth-God desires a level of relationship with us such that we are deeply in love with Him, that we delight to simply be in His presence, that we know Him personally both publicly and privately, and that our focus and priorities become aligned with His desires.
Perhaps you feel that you can relate to God as our Father, Savior, or Lord but are struggling with the idea of relating to God as intimately as you would a husband. While some may even say that it is irreverent to relate to God in such an intimate way, God has always longed for this kind of relationship with His chosen people. He said through the prophet Hosea,
“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness and you will acknowledge the LORD” (2:19-20).
According to this passage God has extended an eternal commitment of love to us as His people, a love so deep, so wide, and so great that no earthly mind can possibly fathom it. It is the kind of gift that should inspire us to reciprocate with as equal of a gift of love as is humanly possible.
Scripture often refers to the church as the bride of Christ. If you have received Christ as Savior, you are His betrothed. John obviously understood God’s desire to betroth us to Himself in this type of intimate bride-and-groom relationship. He writes:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9)
What began as an engagement relationship between God and His own in the Garden of Eden will finally be consummated at the wedding supper of the Lamb when Jesus Christ returns to claim His bride (the church).
In the last line of this scripture the angels said specifically to add that these are God’s “true words,” as if they somehow knew that this type of bridal relationship with the Almighty would be difficult for us to fathom. But His bridegroom love for us is very real.
So how do we cultivate a bridal love for Jesus and enjoy this intimate relationship that He longs to have with us? By falling in love with Him and attempting to pursue Him as passionately as He has been pursuing us all along.
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Excerpted from Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge. Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Used by Permission. Not to be copied without Publisher’s prior written approval.