“Unfortunately, we have usually looked on the love of God for us as the love of a father for a small child. But that is not thoroughly scriptural. The grandest—and the final—imagery the Bible uses for his love is precisely that of lover and beloved, bridegroom and bride. It is the marriage of Christ and the church which is the last act of the long love affair between God and creation.”
– Robert Farrar Capon, Hunting the Divine Fox, 39
This observation is thought provoking for numerous reasons. First, the parent/child metaphor for the God/human relationship is employed with greater frequency, as Capon observes, for a reason. Why? We long for love, acceptance, protection, and security in a world that is often cold, calloused, hostile, and unpredictable. We not only longing for home and family, we yearn for a pervasive peace in all of creation we believe only God can establish and preserve. The parent/child image, however, is not the only one found in the Bible.
Capon is right to remind us of the bride/bridegroom as the grandest and final imagery of Scripture. The church as bride conveys not only radiance and joy, but preparation, maturity, and agency. In the backdrop, however, of this consummating image of Scripture is the return of Christ not only as creation’s ultimate home restoration expert, but judge.
There is much to be added here regarding the already/not yet eschatological dimension of the Christian claim to the present and coming kingdom of God. But for now, we stand in the tension. We are both children and the bride that is the people of God. We are both small and in need of warmth, love, provision, and protection, and radiant, the beloved, beckoned forth for union.