The early Christians, following the lead of Jesus’ parables and through his other teachings, began very early thinking of the church as the bride of Christ.
Take for example:
Revelation 21.9 “Then one of the angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City of Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
Like any relationship, like any marriage, intimacy is more than learning about one another. It is about cultivating a life of shared experiences and appreciation for one another in difficult times. It is no different with God.
Fast-forward three years from my university chapel altar. Still wearing the grad ring, I had now been offered and accepted the wedding ring. It was perhaps as I was changing a diaper or settling my bank account that reality hit. I had a wife, a baby, and a real job. I had taken on an occupation that confronted racism and poverty while preparing students to do just that. It all started to crush me really. The responsibilities of life outweighed a new realization: I could not solve local problems, let alone world issues, with my skills or cleverness. People were too complex. The human heart was far more stubborn and habit ridden than I realized. I was more broken that I had realized. Now ten years out from that night at the university altar, I am saying that it will take my whole life to learn intimacy with God.