There is freedom in singleness, and there is freedom in marriage. There is freedom in the pursuit of God, and freedom in finding Him. This year, my husband and I celebrate three years of marriage and I find myself reflecting on freedom. In a world that values freedom for self, how does God’s freedom compare? How does freedom in Christ manifest in marriage, and in the church His bride? There is also a beautiful freedom in singleness, but we will leave that for another time. For now, I want to consider the following things:
- Christ makes us free, and He makes His church free
- There is freedom in the exclusiveness of marriage
- Everyone has the freedom of choice
- And, freedom can be found in surrender
[Ephesians 5:25-27] says this:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having any spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
God could have compared His relationship with the church through many different analogies, and He has. He has been the Parent to a rebellious nation, the Restorer of the lost, the Father to the fatherless and the Healer to the sick. Yet when we go to Revelation and see God’s vision for the fullness of His kingdom, we see the Bride and the Bridegroom in unison – one as the Father, Son and Spirit are one, dwelling together in eternity, the Bride beautifully prepared for her husband [Revelation 21:1-3]. We hear the celebration of the marriage feast – the Lamb and His Bride, how those invited to the marriage supper are blessed [Revelation 19:7-9]. We hear the voice of the Spirit and the Bride together saying “Come!” [Revelation 22:17]. In Revelation, we cannot go past this image of the Lamb, Jesus, passionately defeating all that is not love so that His Bride, and His church can be fully and completely restored to Him for all eternity.
Why? Because God desires intimacy – for us to truly know Him, and be known by Him. It was the reason for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, for His victory over death, for His placing the seal of the Holy Spirit on His church – a sign of engagement until the wedding day when He would come again and create a new heaven and new earth. Jesus the Bridegroom, loves His church so much that He never gives up on marrying her but instead, helps her to prepare for the day of their wedding, to prepare for eternity in His holy presence. He frees His church because He loves her and in Him, she can be everything she was created to be, and do everything she was created to do. God gives her identity and purpose, helps her to love, and frees her from the chains of earthly expectations which do not stand for eternity. Instead, we the church and the Bride of Christ, have only this command – to be loved by Christ and to love Him.
Being married means you have someone else to consider, someone else to look after, and to include in life’s decision making. You are doing life together so your spouse is in it with you, and you are in it with them. Of course there are also friends and family, parents and mentors, each having their own unique influence in our lives. My mother once shared a revelation God gave her – that she is the only mother to me and my sister, the only wife to dad and as such, she had a responsibility to pray for us and love us. This passion in her was not born out of obligation, but because no one else could fulfil the role God had given to her and she was going to embrace it, to love us how God loved her. It was not a burden, but a privilege she sought to honour.
God has made each of us unique. We each have a life that cannot be lived by someone else. No-one can replicate the friendship and the memories you have with your sister, or with your friend because they are not that person. Similarly in marriage, no-one can be your spouse except your spouse. My husband and I will never be divorced. We made a vow unto God when we were married and this is something we will both keep. Unfortunately there are circumstances in our broken world where people are hurt in the context of marriage and this is not how God designed marriage to be. God did not design violence or depression. He did not sanction abuse. The marriage I believe God wants us to have is a reflection of the intimacy He desires with His church. Ephesians 5:25-27 mentions a word to husbands, urging them to love their wives and give themselves up for her as Christ did to make His church and His bride holy. God wants us, in intimacy with Him, to reach our full potential as us – the unique person He has made us to be.
Looking back on my own three years of marriage, I am understanding what this freedom means. As Christ’s bride, I am free because I know beyond doubt that I am loved by Him and that He will be there for me. As a wife, I know with full certainty that I am loved by my husband, and that he will never leave me. I have no fear that I might do something wrong, or that I might be abandoned because I am secure in the faithfulness of Christ and in the promise of marriage I have with my husband. Moreover, I know that Christ sharpens my character to become more like Him and I am I starting to see how He also involves my husband in this.
In the time I have been married, I feel my faith has matured. One thing I have really noticed, is how my husband and I can choose to support one another in our spiritual growth. In prayer but also in words of affirmation and practical help, my husband has pushed me closer to God. He sees the woman God has called me to be and is there to help me make decisions that will cause me to grow more like Christ. In the same way, I can pray for Him, affirm Him in His God-given identity and help Him pursue the things that God has called Him to do. There is freedom in surrender, in giving up our hopes, strengths, weaknesses and questions to another. When I do this with my husband, I know his advice and comfort will be for my betterment. How much more then will Christ work all things for the benefit of His beloved bride, to present her holy and without blemish?
In our society, where many people are taught to look out for their own interests, it can be difficult to relinquish control. Yet, when there is surrender in a place of unconditional love, we have the freedom to be ourselves and grow in our inherent Christ-given potential. However, since God has loved us, He has also given us free-will and everyone has the freedom to make their own choices. As for me, I choose to love my husband, and I choose to love my God.
See more of our 3rd year anniversary shoot with DIY Leather Bows (Apple Tree Cottage, Adelaide Hills):