Today’s post is something of a continuation to last week’s post, The Bridegroom’s Pledge. As Jesus Christ’s bride, the church is supposed to be getting ready for a marriage that will take place when He returns. If this were a human wedding, preparations for it would include things like picking a date and venue, mailing out invitations, and hiring a caterer. But none of those things are any use in preparing for a wedding to Jesus. He needs us to focus on something different, something that will strengthen a relationship He intends to last into eternity.
Diversity In Oneness
He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the church; because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. “For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the church. (Eph. 5:28-32, WEB)
In these verses, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 about the husband and wife becoming one flesh. The Hebrew word for “one” is echad (H259). It’s the same word use in the Shema: “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one” (Deut. 6:4, WEB).
While echad can mean the number one, in these verses “It stresses unity while recognizing diversity within that oneness” (TWOT entry 61). A husband and wife don’t literally merge into a single being. And God (Elohim) consists of two Beings. But they can be called one because they’re united. That’s the sort of relationship we’re supposed to be developing with Christ.
One Bride, Together
A few weeks ago I shared something I learned from a book called Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes. In the phrase, “You are a temple of God,” the “you” is plural” and “temple” is singular. We’re not each of us little temples — the whole church together makes up God’s temple.
- You can pick up a copy of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by clicking here. Please note that this is an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase.
We can make a similar mistake when we think about oneness. We think it’s about me, as an individual, becoming unified with God. But that’s not exactly what Christ was expressing when He asked the Father to let His followers share in Their unity.
Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21, WEB)
While Jesus and the Father are very much interested in you and love you as an individual, you don’t get them all to yourself. Oneness with Them also means oneness with everyone else the Father calls as a Bride for His Son.
Becoming one flesh with our Bridegroom means being “members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30, WEB). And that body is made up of the whole church.
For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:12-13, WEB)
“God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired.” And He intends “that there should be no division in the body” (1 Cor. 12:18, 25, WEB). The Father and Son want us to become like Them, including in the ways we relate to each other with a spirit of love and unity.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3, WEB)
The end goal is to become like God and share in Their oneness. And even now, “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17, WEB). If we want the sort of relationship with Jesus that He wants to have with us then we must pursue oneness with Him, with His Father, and with all of His body.