What it means to be part of the 'Bride of Christ'; the church.
LEAVE, CLEAVE, BECOME ONE FLESH
A model for the church
’’Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his -wife: and they shall be one flesh.’’
This is God’s plan for marriage
Marriage is important to God. It is so important that he uses it as a model of Christ’s relationship to the church. Marriage was the first human institution. God told Adam and Eve how marriage should be…Adam and Eve didn’t have any parents to leave –so this must be a more general statement – they were also to teach their children to leave them and cleave to marriage partners.
Genesis 2.24 gives three things that we should do when we are married, which have been commanded by God from the first humans and ever since.
LEAVE his father and mother
CLEAVE unto his wife
Become ONE FLESH
In other words, when we get married, we move away from our parents, and our spouse becomes the most important person in our life. Becoming one flesh involves twoindepandant individuals, becoming a unit.
MARRIAGE AS A MODEL FOR THE CHURCH
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband
Romans 7, and 1 Corinthians 7 also show marriage as a model for the church
Therefore we know that the things we read here about the relationship between the married couple are also to apply to the church’s relationship with Christ. This New Testament passage also establishes the rule of’ leave, cleave and become one’, that is laid down in Genesis.
So we see that these three things are important, not only in the Old Testament, but now. Also this doesn’t just apply to human marriage but to our ‘marriage ‘to our saviour. So let’s look at the three in turn.
When we become born again and start to live as Christians, we leave behind our old nature. (Ephesians 4.22) We become dead to the sinful, worldly nature that we lived in before (Romans 6) and are re-born into the family of God. We are not the same. Just as a marriage doesn’t benefit from one partner continually going home to mum, so we hinder our relationship with Christ every time we turn back to the world.
To cleave to something means to stick to it. This relationship is for life, and all the time. You cannot just be a Christian (or married) when you feel like it. You do not get a day off. It is who you are –all the time, both when it is easy, and when it is more difficult.
Just as a woman changes her name when she is married, we change our identity when we are born again.
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.
We are to cleave to the Lord (Acts 11.23) and to what is good (Romans12.9)
Part of cleaving to a husband or wife is that we forsake all others –we do not commit adultery. In the same way we should cleave only to God, and not have any other Gods – to do so is idolatry ( Exodus 20.3, 1 Corinthians 8.4)
In Romans the adulteress is compared to someone who moves away from Christ after having been born again.
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Our marriage to Christ should be complete. We should not be looking to the world for things that we should be using the Christ in us to obtain from God – or putting worldly things first. To do this is just like a woman cheating on her husband. It is a betrayal of the relationship we have with him.
God says He wants us to be pure for Christ –
2 Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ
BECOME ONE FLESH
The Church is referred to as one body , for example in 1 Corinthians 12.12, and Ephesians 4.4
We also become one with Christ
1 Corinthians 6:15-17
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Christ is the head of the body, just as the husband is the head of the marriage
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body
In either relationship, this does not suggest brutal dominance, but loving care.
Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2.20). He is not separate from the church – he is the most vital part of it. Christ does not command us –that is God’s job – Christ is our saviour, our intercessor (Romans 8.34), our comfort, ( 2 Thessalonians 16-17) and our access to God. ( Romans 5.1-2, Ephesians2.18)
We work together and we have a common goal
We are to do all that Christ did and more (John14.12). The relationship is one in which we work together, with a common purpose. (2 Corinthians 6.1) In the same way the married couple are to work together – with a common purpose.
In all things, God always comes first. We do not lose our identity and become a faceless part of a whole, or subservient at the expense of our own will and abilities. Instead we bring the best of ourselves to the relationship, and we become one in purpose, just as Christ was at one with his Father. (John 10.30)
In the body of the church we are ‘ members in particular’, meaning we each have a special role to play. In the marriage, the wife’s role is different but equally important to that of the husband.
Our role is important. God needs us to play our part. He asks us to leave behind the worldly things that we did in times past, to cleave to Christ instead, and become a fully functioning part of one body, working with Christ, and with the same purpose of the father.
God’s purpose is to save people and to give them a better life ( John 10.10). Is your purpose in line with this?
1Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
We are to leave behind our old ways, cleave to God, and become part of the one flesh with Christ which is the church.
It is by living in the way that God intended that we become, as a church, the bride of Christ, ready for his return.