To us, history can feel like a war story. To God, it’s a love story. Not a cheap coming-of-age novel, a fully-fledged romance of love overcoming tragedy.
There’s this beautiful moment in the beginning when God makes the human aware that we were designed for shared life. With the wide-eyed wonder of a child at the zoo, Adam was discovering the mind-boggling diversity of creatures who shared God’s world with him. But along with the serendipity was another feeling, a growing disquiet awakening within him. There was no one else like him, no soulmate to share all this wonder. (Genesis 2:18-20).
Having aroused the sense that we exist for each other, God moves to provide what’s missing. It’s his most beautiful creative act: taking some of Adam’s own flesh and bone to form someone who quite literally is him — “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh” (2:23). Each generation experiences this unity of body and life as a man and a woman leave their families to discover their identity in one shared life (2:24).
Well, that’s the ideal version. The reality is more difficult, with more selfishness and pain.
As the author of Ephesians pondered the profound mystery of a united life, it occurred to him that the gospel is that kind of unfolding love story. God had breathed his own life into us (Genesis 2:7), but when we separated from God to go our own way, we lost our life (2:17; 3:19). We were “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
God’s response is a truly astounding revelation of his character. He doesn’t react like an offended ruler to quash people under his power. He steps into the mess with his people.
In God’s love story, the Son leaves his Father’s home to join himself to his bride in her dead existence. He lays down in the dust, so she can have his life. When he rises from the sleep of death, she is coming to life in him. God raised us up with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6).
Sharing in his resurrection life is the most transformative experience for humanity. Christ means anointed ruler, so to share his life is to be his bride, his queen seated with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (2:6).
So, the love story culminates with the king surrounded by the magnificent queen he has raised up. She is:
bathed and purified by his declaration, so as to make the royal presentation to himself of his splendid assembly — unmarred, unwrinkled, nothing to detract from her, so she could be holy and flawless (5:26-27).
History is his love story, the story of a Son leaving his Father to be united with his bride, joining her in her death, giving her his life, and raising her up to reign with him in his recreated world:
“For this reason, a person will leave father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will be one flesh.” This is a profound mystery, but I am saying this in relation to Christ and the assembly (5:31-32).
Being loved like this transforms us. The fear of Christ teaches us to submit to one another. How’s the divine romance working out where you live?
What others are saying
Gene Edwards, The Divine Romance (Tyndale, 1984), 17:
Angels stood dumbstruck, watching man cease to be one, and yet remaining one.
“You see,” said the Lord softly, “there is something … someone hidden in Adam.”
- At home with the gospel (Eph. 5:21-33)