There are so many ways people go with the following passage.
1. I wish you would be patient with me even when I am a little foolish, but you are already doing that.2 I am jealous over you with a jealousy that comes from God. I promised to give you to Christ, as your only husband. I want to give you as his pure bride.3 But I am afraid that your minds will be led away from your true and pure following of Christ just as Eve was tricked by the snake with his evil ways.” (New Century Version).
There are so many ways that people (preachers) can take this passage, most usually a long series on the deceptive wiles of the serpent on Eve and how to avoid them. Or the nature of Paul’s fear of the “different Jesus'” presented to the Corinthians (or to us).
All fine and good.
But let’s not miss the desire of Paul’s heart and his positive directive!
Paul admits he is “jealous” with Gods’ jealousy. We know this is a constant throughout the whole of the Bible…that God sees infidelity to Himself as a constant problem and a heartache for all parties including God’s own self. We also know that the biblical depiction of Christ and the Church is predominantly that of Bride and Bridegroom, and that human marriage is meant to be a flat snapshot of the reality of the True Marriage between God (in Christ) and His redeemed Bride.
And this jealousy that Paul’s feels from God Himself, is for what exactly?
He states it “to present you as a pure bride” filled with “simple and pure devotion to Christ” (NASB is better).
We spend so much time on what might derail this simple and pure devotion as Christ’s Bride that we never ask (or I don’t, do you?):
“What does it mean for me to daily express simple and pure devotion to Christ my true Husband”?
That is Paul stated intent, and he is jealous, like God, for just that. Like any father (I have one daughter) I want her to have the best Bridegroom (a done deal with Christ) and for her to be the best Bride to her young man.
Now it is here we, perhaps, see some of what Paul calls his “foolishness”. The kind of simple and pure devotion a bride show hers husband is just a snapshot at best..in this case “fidelity”.
I can tell you from painful experience there are few things worse or more painful than infidelity just in human to human terms. Adultery robbed me of probably, um, just a few decades of my life. It actually, in the final analysis, hurts the adulterous one (me) far more than the betrayed spouse. In fact, in my case, my ex-wife, decades later said to me “you know, it’s okay to drop it. I forgive you. Move on.”
God is a lot like that, only God, as our Father, and Christ as our Husband knows that we are most ourselves when we have simple and pure devotion to our True Husband.
But here is my question: What does that mean?
“Simple and pure devotion” is hardly just the absence of infidelity? It would seem that we, the Modern Church would take it only that far. Is this marriage between Christ and His Church really just about not “cheating” on Him?
If I was married and in the five minutes I spent with my wife daily she assured me only that “dear, I did not sleep around on you today” …well that would just be fun wouldn’t it?
Well. frankly, I have no answer for you. Maybe my core goal of wanting to do SPOKE (and I wanted to do this 7 years ago) is to discover what it means to have “simple and pure” devotion to Him. To stop all this talk about US (Lord we can go on!)
Because after 30 plus years of “marriage” to Him I am still not sure what that means today. I know what it does not mean. Real clear in that (though I cannot seem to get that right either).
So what dos it mean for you and I, as His Bride to express simple (note that…simple) and pure devotion to Him?
It’s not going to lead you to “works-righteousness” or even having the “right ideas” about your Husband (though Paul implies that you wanna avoid being tricked away from your true spouse).
I am not in any danger of being deceived into accepting “another Jesus”. I am not bragging, I just know too much. But I can whore after other things as good as anyone.
God is a “jealous God” but that is a good and loving thing. Would you want your significant other to be apathetic while other men or women tried to seduce you? Would you feel valued and loved?
But again, this, like SPOKE, is not about US.
I am so sick of my own whining, excuses, diversions and internal narcissism…or worse, attempts to get others to love ME, rather than how my heart is going to be changed to simply love Jesus and be devoted to him with my heart.
So I leave you with Paul’s desire, given by a Loving Father: “I promised to give you to Christ, as your only husband. I want to give you as a pure bride. But I am afraid that your minds may be led astray from simple and pure devotion to Christ.”
Ponder and pray for our gracious God and Father that, by His Spirit, He will reveal to us what this means and place it in our hearts, and not just fill our minds with correct “doctrine” (as important as that is).