I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through his Holy Church.
The Church is not a barrier or a mediator between me and God. Rather, there is One mediator between God and Man, the Man Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
The Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is her head.
The Church is also the Bride of Christ.
Marriage imagery is used extensively in both the Old and New Testaments to describe the relationship between God and His people. God is the Bridegroom. His people are His Bride.
Faithfulness is enjoined upon the participants in this Holy Matrimony, this Matrimonial Covenant.
Unfaithfulness to God is Adultery. Israel was oftentimes likened to an unfaithful wife, an adulteress, and even a prostitute.
God told the prophet Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her. This was to be a representation of God’s marriage covenant with His unfaithful people Israel.
Human marriage, therefore, is a type and a sign—a shadow—of the true marriage between God and His Holy people, His bride.
Jesus constantly referred to himself as the Bridegroom. When asked by some Pharisees why his disciples did not fast like the Baptist’s disciples, Jesus answered them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?”
For you see, the Christian religion is not primarily adherence to a creed or set of beliefs. The religion of Christ is primarily a relationship with a person—the person of God. That relationship is a love affair.
What proof is a man able to offer his fiancé of his love for her prior to their getting married? Can he prove that he’ll be forever faithful? Can he prove to her that he loves her more than anyone else? Isn’t it rather a leap of faith? Sure couples can give each other motives of credibility. A man can make it credible through his actions and by his words that he loves her, that he can be faithful, and that he can be trusted. But what proof is any of that of his real feelings or his future intentions?
A woman can’t know on her wedding day that the man she’s marrying will love him in fifty years and yet on the day of the marriage a man and woman promise to love each other for the rest of their lives. Can they believe those promises? Do they mean to keep them? How can they KNOW how they’ll really fell about each other in fifty years, in forty years, or even in five years? Both are incapable of proving the truth of what they say to each other and yet they still believe.
The faith a woman has in the love of her husband is like the faith we have in the love of Christ and our own love must reflect that love. The things of faith aren’t any more verifiable than the things of love and yet we DO LOVE. Many of us have chosen to make that leap of faith in our human relationships when positive proofs were impossible. When promises had to do.
How much greater; how much more trustworthy, the promises of God?
God is Love
Jesus, who is God, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
The seeker after Truth, then, is also the seeker after Love. Truth is not merely something we know. It is SOMEONE we love.
So the Church—“religion”—doesn’t stand between me and my relationship with God. The Church IS my relationship with God. Through the Church I’m grafted in to the body of Christ and given a share in his divinity. 2 Peter 1:4
I could no more leave the Church than I could leave my wife. And my marriage doesn’t stand between me and my relationship with my wife. IT IS the relationship I have with my wife.
And so is the Church the relationship I have with God. And it is as intimate as it could possibly be while I’m clothed in mortal flesh and surrounded by corruption. Through the Church I touch Christ, I taste Christ, I drink in Christ. I speak to Christ and Christ speaks back. I spend time with Christ reading in silence and talking with him.
What greater relationship with Christ—with God—could I hope to have before I go to join Him in Heaven? In the words of Walker Percy, “What else is there?” In the words of St. Peter, “To Whom else shall we go?”