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husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:28-32)

These words convey something of the passion that Jesus has for his church as his Bride and his Body. In this passage, Paul mixes his metaphors to express our relationship with the one who is our creator and our lover – this is indeed a profound mystery.

I was licenced to minister in Holy Trinity Church, Belle Vue, Shrewsbury in 2000, but it was suddenly in December 2006, what was prophetically called a “habitation, not a visitation” began. The best description I have ever found of what we experienced was written by my great-grandmother, Susanna Spencer, almost 100 years ago. She wrote the story of her life; it was published as a book in 1917, even though she was an ordinary working woman and the wife of a blacksmith. She met Jesus while she was a teenager; this event changed her life:

One terrible day, the burden seemed to become too great for me – I could bear it no longer: I came in from my work, and with heavy steps went straight up to my bedroom, threw myself on my knees by my bedside, and sobbed out the whole wretched tale to Jesus. I told Him how I had tried and tried to be good, and to get peace – and begged Him to take me as I was, and just let me be His child henceforth – I was so tired of myself. Perhaps the surrender was so complete, the trusting Him so real – for, there and then, as I knelt, light came, and a calm peace entered into my very being. He revealed Himself, and I knew Him![1]

Jesus has no favourites, neither among churches nor individuals; we all have the potential to know him as Susanna did. This book has been written to encourage you in a hunger and thirst for more of him.

I have followed Paul’s example in the Book of Romans which is in two parts: simply put, up to the end of Chapter 11 is theology and the rest is the practical application of all that has been discovered. These are linked by a wonderful doxology and the word ‘therefore’. So, in each chapter on this book you will find a Therefore… separating (very roughly) theology from practice.

I am now Vicar of All Saints’ Church in the village of Ashdon, Essex which hopefully has given me a wider perspective on Jesus’ heart for his Body and Bride.

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