Fitted For Him

In Genesis chapter two we read of the man, newly created, being set into the garden and many of the details of what the garden was like. Each one of them drips with meaning, today I’d like to look at one that most of us know well: verse 18.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2.18

The bride when made is supposed to be a ‘helper’ for the man—and it’s worth remembering here that most uses of the word translated ‘helper’ here are to describe God, this isn’t some minor role—who is ‘fit’ for him.

In other words, she is precisely who he needs. Together they complement one another. They’re a perfectly formed team.

Now, we could say lots about the relations between men and women in the church from that observation—though we would need to do justice to everything else the Bible has to say too—but I’d like to extend the analogy.

We know that as the Bible’s story rolls on the man and the bride become analogous to the coming king who will set right what Adam broke, and the people of God who the Lord often calls his wife.

By the time we’ve reached the New Testament, especially if our route stopped off in the Song of Songs, we see that the man and his wife point us to the new Adam, Christ, and the bride of Christ, the church.

Which leaves us with an interesting thought: the church is a helper fit for Christ.

Ok, we could be feeling ornery and suggest that that’s fitting indeed, the church is broadly useless and Christ needs no help. While our insistence on the strength of Jesus’ character and the might of his arm is well-placed, the criticism of the church is not.

Which is an odd thing to say if we have our eyes open. As I write, the Southern Baptist Convention in America has released a report into the way they covered up numerous cases of sexual abuse by pastors and other church officers. If I’m understanding correctly, this is but the tip of an iceberg.

I’m a long way away from that particular mess. It feels distant, like seeing the smoke from a housefire a few streets over. It’s horrifying, but it doesn’t directly affect me, or so I think. I wouldn’t feel equipped to comment on it intelligently beyond this: Lord have mercy.

It’s one example of many in recent years, but it serves to put the lie to my contention that we’re hard on the Church. She appears to be in a bit of a state. We could sit over here and smugly tut while resting assured that our own house is not on fire. The smug usually get their comeuppance in the scriptures, but putting aside whether or not we’re right about a lack of similar fire engulfing our own churches, we’re profoundly wrong to suggest that this is not our house.

I’m (as far as I know) unconnected to the SBC, or the numerous scandals involving high profile Christian leaders here and in America that have dominated the last few years’ worth of Christian news. But Christ is no polygamist. He is the husband of but one wife, and she is the Church of God. There is only one house: the Temple who is both Christ and Church.

In other words, it’s all my house too. I can’t fix it, I don’t need to repent of it if I didn’t do it, but we should renounce wickedness wherever we see it, and we should ensure it cannot darken the rooms of the house we have some responsibility over ourselves.

If we hold that conviction in our hand it can be hard to see how the Church is Christ’s helper, fitted to her husband. She looks like a mess.

And she is a mess. And she is Christ’s helper, fitted to her husband.

The Church is not yet reached full maturity (Ephesians 4), we know that because Christ has not yet returned. My suspicion would be that we are some way off that, though that’s the sort of speculation I’d be delighted to be wrong about. She may yet have thousands of years to grow up into maturity and wisdom and be fitted for her husband. He’s happy to wait.

Yet, even now she is fitted to him. We—for she is made up of ‘we’—are fitted to him. We complement him and are called to aid him in his kingship.

Do we think of the church like that? I think we should, for not only is she marred by the scandal of fallen men whose self-salvation projects are shown to be tatters and straw, but she is the glorious princess who will reign alongside her forever King.

We are what Christ chooses to complement him. A lot of that is about his choice to partner with us to better display the wonders of his glory through our ineptitude, but it’s also a statement of the esteem in which he holds us, his Church. We are dearly loved, and not just as rascally children who always come home covered in mud—as a husband loves his bride.

We would do well to think of the Church like this. It would mean the scandals hurt us more, not less, but it also means we realise the exalted position we are given in the economy of God: the bride, the helper, fitted to the husband.

I suspect I could spin this out in a number of directions, exploring ways in which we are fitted to Christ. I won’t for the sake of brevity, but perhaps it is worth you pondering today. And marvel at the wonder of the Church—to mix our feminine metaphors, our Mother—who is not yet mature, but will be by the end adorned like a bride (Revelation 21) for her husband.

And then he will truly kiss us with the kisses of his mouth (Song of Songs 1).

Photo by nikki gibson on Unsplash

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