A Beloved Love

The love of the Lord for us that we are talking about here is holy and pure and spiritual. That being said, the intentional mention of human marriage being ultimately about heavenly marriage is not a throwaway metaphor. Human love in marriage, with all that it entails and implies, including its intimate and romantic dimensions, really is a key way to capture what it is to be loved by God, to be beloved to Him. It is a reflection of the divine. It says something very real about the relationship between us and God. As such, when we consider human marriage and all that makes up human marriage, we are seeing something that spiritually and directly connects to how we relate to God.

To be known by God and to be loved by God is to be beloved to God. It is to know, sense, and feel His love for us as a dearly loved spouse. One who loves us even unto death itself, beyond even death itself. One who loves us with the committed, fierce, strong, intimate intensity of a beloved spouse.

All of which means then that ultimate reality—the life we are heading into and will live in together—is best understood as living with God, being married to Jesus, loving God and being loved by God forever.

I’ve long enjoyed playing video games. And one game I have played a lot over the years is Madden NFL. I’ve enjoyed it as it has been my one way of ensuring that my New York Jets win the majority of their games. When I play Madden, my Jets always end up becoming a Super Bowl champion dynasty, winning at least four years in a row. It’s a real and legit thrill to me. But even I, a superfan, have to admit that it’s not reality (certainly not as of this writing). The video game is enjoyable, but what I really yearn for one day is the Jets, in real life, winning games and eventually winning the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969.

Jesus’ Love: A Beloved Love

This life we live now is significant and important. But even it is ultimately a temporary expression of an ensuing, enduring reality that is best described as us, united to God in Christ, living a married life with Him forever. Indeed, this life will one day be seen as a brief and passing rest stop compared to the final destination of abundant life and blessing (see 2 Cor. 4:17).

We begin married life with the Lord the moment we put our faith in Jesus. And that moment we begin a life together with Him, that new life only grows and deepens and expands. The end of all things is not “cold dark blank space,” as Ray Ortlund writes, but instead being with “a God above with love in his eyes for us and infinite joy to offer us.”

We can’t now fully grasp all of what this will entail. Nevertheless, it is still quite significant to know that the best life the universe offers us feels like being married to someone who intimately, deeply, and fully loves us, and will love us like that forever.

This is the life into which all believers are headed. But we can already experience some of this life now. For already, in this life, the church is the bride of Christ even as we look to and prepare for when we will officially be His bride forever … which means that already right now we have poured into us from God abundant love, enduring commitment, and full intimacy. Already right now we swim in God’s beloved love, flowing from God to us and eventually carrying all of us into eternity.

But now here is something to consider. This love, that flows from God to us, also flows among us. God’s beloved love for you connects you to God in His beloved love and it connects you to other believers in the same beloved love. We are carried together with other believers into eternity in God’s beloved love because God already today connects us together in His beloved love. What makes us come together as the people of God and remain the people of God is what we have been given from God. We are family to one another because of God’s adopting us into His family. We are brother and sister not because we naturally have divine DNA within us but because of what has been done for us, namely God putting us in the Son. We relate to one another not through any natural blood relations but through the spiritual blood relation that we gained through the shed blood of Jesus. It is the blood of Jesus that gives us the same spiritual DNA that makes us family.

We are a reconciled community to one another because God reconciled us to Himself. We can speak of unity among us, of being “one new man,” because of what God has given us: the body and blood of Jesus (Eph. 2:13–16). This lasts into eternity even as it echoes back into the present, and in how we relate to one another today. All of how we interact with one another, all of how we relate to one another, comes out of how God first related to us. We see, feel, and relate to one another in and through and out of God, and specifically in and through and out of Jesus.

This has implications for how we understand what it means to love one another within the church. We love one another from and out of God’s love for us. As we explore in the next chapter what it means to love one another, what we’ll be talking about is loving one another with the love of God. Since the ultimate way God loves us is with a beloved love, then we need to consider the ways in which our love for each other is like this beloved love. For Jesus’ love at its heart is a beloved love.

Adapted from Dearly Beloved by Vermon Pierre (© 2024). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

Vermon Pierre
Vermon Pierre

Vermon Pierre is the lead pastor at Roosevelt Community Church, a diverse multiethnic congregation in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of Gospel Shaped Living and a contributor to The New City Catechism Devotional15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’: To Change the World Five Years Later.