Have you ever heard someone say that even if you were the only person on earth who believed, Jesus would have still come and died for you? Or that when He was dying on the cross He was thinking of you? I have always been skeptical of such statements, they kind of smell like something out of 2 Opinions 3:16, or 3 sentimentalities 4:7. He intended a community of believers to constitute the church so such statements do have an element of nonsense to them.
However, I really do believe that God has a specific love and compassion and focus on me, and on you as an individual. For example, why is He so interested in closet prayer?
6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
(Matthew 6:6, NASB).
He strongly wants time alone with you! When people are in love, they crave time together away from others. They want privacy together. So it is with God; He strongly wants genuine privacy and togetherness with you!
Romance and marriage are designed to be a huge metaphor for our relationship with God:
31 FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
(Ephesians 5:31, 32, NASB).
Now, when someone marries, they forsake all others and “cleave” to their spouse. They declare publicly that there is no other individual who is as important or beautiful or lovely as this one person. They are done with playing the field, and they have found a single other who is so significant that they want to make it public and official. This is the picture which God chooses as the supreme metaphor for our relationship with Him. This is why divorce and merely sleeping together or living together as a test are so damaging. It screams of giving love in terms of merit, in terms of satisfying my requirements. It retains control over the other, instead of releasing control to graciously love no matter what.
But marriage says, I love you and I am committed to you forever, no matter what. You do not need to jump through certain hoops to satisfy my requirements; our marriage says that all requirements are met and our relationship is based on something wholly other than how much you please me. No threat of ending hangs over our romance when we marry. This is why God hates divorce, because He doesn’t operate that way. He is eternally faithful, and He does not leave a threat of ending hanging over His relationship with us. His love for us, His words to us, His promptings for us, are based on something wholly different than the threat of abandoning the relationship.
What could say more powerfully than the metaphor of marriage that God is specifically in love with you and only you? He is saying, through the specificity of marriage to one other person, forsaking all others, that He has eyes for only you. He powerfully loves you as an individual, and He longs for intimacy alone with you. Not as a discipline or requirement, but as a torn lover who longs to be with you all the time.
16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16, NASB).
I believe it! It is so wonderful that it makes me cry, and wonder at Him, every day. Isn’t He beautiful?