In today's sermon our pastor talked about what it means to know God. John 17:3 says: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." The Bible uses the same word "know" to describe sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. "He 'knew' her."
Marriage between a man and a woman is like the marriage of Christ and the Church. I've known this for some time, but only recently has it sunk in. It suddenly occurred to me that one of the many reasons sexual immorality is so prevalent in the world is because we have a deep longing for intimacy with God. But we aren't longing for just a little intimacy like sharing secrets or a kiss--to put it in human terms of love. We long for something deep and profound. It might be called spiritual sex. A strange thought, I know.
I once heard someone say that God allows us to choose whether or not we want to be with Him for eternity, and that He is being a gentleman by not making us be with Him when we don't want to be. I think most would agree that anyone who would force someone to marry them and to sleep with them is no gentleman. Yet that is what so many ask of God when they suggest that everyone should be allowed into heaven, even those who violently resisted God all of their lives. If a king lived in the only beautiful place in the world and the rest was a thorny wasteland, and if the one he loved did not love him back, would it be gentlemanly for him to force her to live with him when she wanted to be free? The fact is, forcing her would be no better than rape.
If you like, you can picture Christ as that king, who went out into the barrenness for thirty years to draw her to him. He willingly died by the hand of those who loved the darkness, and even then it didn't guarantee that she would come to him. He proposed; now he must wait for her answer--an answer that could take her entire lifetime. I don't know about you, but our story is the best love story ever written. Thank you, Jesus, lover of our souls.