The past 7 years of my life have found me in a surprising place. As a guy who loves hockey, and derives perverse pleasure from hurting younger men on bicycle rides I surprise myself by which book of the Bible has become, for me, a hobby. With a few minutes to spare I’ll open my Bible to Song of Songs (yes, the love poem book). When I’m in the book store, I’m looking to see if there are commentaries on Song of Songs. I’m finding ancient texts that dig deep into this profoundly confusing and avoided book in Scripture.
It started as a 5 year dare: my friend and pastor Brian Creary asked me, “What book will you study for 5 years?” I thought I’d stick in on a topic but rather have found that this book has unlocked my heart and my understanding into how God thinks and feels about me. I also understand the seasons that He is bringing me through.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if my life in Christ must always be up and down. Am I actually growing or can I ever expect to walk in victory over sin and compromise in my life? Does Jesus see me as a screw up that he’s going to fix when he comes back, or is he redeeming me today and bringing me into greater maturity?
Hudson Taylor, in his classic book Union and Communion, describes season in the life of a believer when the Lord is no longer drawing away and the bride is no longer hesitating at her Lord’s call. Song of Songs 6:11 – 8:4 describes a season of growing in maturity and effectiveness with our Lord. Taylor identifies at least 12 marks of growing maturity in the life in this section which gives me hope that I can grow out of a roller coaster faith into deep confidence, strong faith and mature effectiveness.
In the language of a bride being courted by her lover, these are 12 marks of a maturing bride:
- She is found with him. If you want to find the Bridegroom, find the bride.
- She is able to tend both His garden and her own. (Compare this to the first chapter where she is kept from her own garden while taking care of her brothers’).
- She speaks with his authority. Heaven listens and earth moves by her voice.
- His people are now her people. This is the church.
- She shares his name. This ain’t no hyphenation, she is now fully in his.
- Many see the bridegroom’s beauty in the bride. Those who have not yet met her love can see that he is beautiful because of how she is beautiful.
- She is beautiful as the dance of two armies – God and people dancing together.
- She has 10 fold beauty (as I’ll describe in the next post) that the daughters of the city describe. Can you begin to see how beautiful Jesus is making his church?
- Made upright and righteous (because He is upright and righteous).
- Victorious! She announces the King’s victorious arrival and she is his banner of victory (the palm branches) over sin and death.
- She abides closely with her King and is fruitful because of it. This sounds like the prayer of Jesus in John 17.
- She is teachable and mouldable. She wants to know and follow completely the one her heart loves.
Isn’t this a remarkable destiny? And it’s not reserved for good people when they die, it’s for each lover of God to know and enjoy. No one who wants to follow Jesus wholeheartedly needs to sit waiting for heaven, maturing in faith and love comes with real fruit and real marks of the love of the great lover. Jesus is making us ready to be his perfect partner. We were made to fit into this relationship. We were made to love God.
And even better news is that this isn’t the end of the story yet! The story didn’t end with a compromised bride and it doesn’t end with a maturing bride. It’s coming, but not yet. Words can only dimly describe the story we’re in, but let me assure you, it’s glorious.
How about you? Can you see the marks of your own maturing? What aspects of Jesus’ own beauty do people see when they watch you? Which is your favourite?
- Hey, I know you’re in there (lifeonthefrontporch.wordpress.com)
- It’s not as bad as it looks: Seasons of close union with Jesus (lifeonthefrontporch.wordpress.com)