Reality and Relation
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5b
Most Christians understand the idea that God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Every member of humankind was to bear the image of God throughout the earth to represent God’s dominion and authority over His creation. We might say that individuals bearing the image of God are to represent the reality of God in their character and behavior.
But there is another dimension to God that is represented by groups of individuals: the relational part of God. Starting in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:24), God used marriage as a metaphor for how He relates to those whom He loves. Beginning with Israel, God has related to His people as a bridegroom relates to his bride (Isaiah 54:6-8; 62:5; Hosea 2:19-20). Then, in the New Testament, we find Paul using marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His Church (and vice versa) (Ephesians 5:22-33). As individuals, we bear witness to the reality of God, and as couples we illustrate the relational dimension of God. Both are powerful witnesses to a watching world.
Couples should consider: What do people see of God and His love when they see our marriage?
A Single Thought: May our lives reflect God’s love—it is the portrait of God’s image to others.
Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught
Pray without ceasing… —1 Thessalonians 5:17
Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing…”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.
Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that prayer is always answered. Do we have through the Spirit of God that inexpressible certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when it seemed that God did not answer our prayer? Jesus said, “…everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). Yet we say, “But…, but….” God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?
The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.
The fiery furnaces are there by God’s direct permission. It is misleading to imagine that we are developed in spite of our circumstances; we are developed because of them. It is mastery in circumstances that is needed, not mastery over them. The Love of God—The Message of Invincible Consolation, 674 R