(Today's post by James Rooks)
Ephesians 5:3 – 6:9
Today's passage has enough meaty scripture to fill a week's worth of blogs. The build-up to chapter five in Ephesians has been a good one. Chapters one through three focus on our position in Christ and chapter four on the unity of the Spirit. Chapter five gets into loads of information on being imitators of God and walking in the light versus walking in the darkness. Today, our focus will start at vs. 22 where lessons on marriage begin, and I'll attempt to tackle verses 22 – 33 hopefully leaving you with two very important take-aways. As a starting point, this post is written to guys (yes, I know ladies take a peek in here from time to time). With that said, I will be addressing husbands and future husbands in this post. We'll be looking at how men should love their wives compared to how Jesus loves the church, as well as taking a look at the supernatural significance of Biblical marriage.
I have always enjoyed the raised eyebrows and funny looks that occur within “couples” sunday school and Bible study classes that I've been in over the last 10 years when Ephesians 5:22-24 is read out loud. Everyone just sort of braces for what's next…”wives submit to your husbands” and no one is quite sure what to say next. Guys are thinking “yep!”, but smart enough most times not to say that out loud. Sounds about right? Now the good part. See vs. 25:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, – Eph 5:25 NASB”
Men, do we really feel the weight of this? I'll go out on a limb and say emphatically that we do not. Just for a moment, look at the love of Christ for the church. The aspect of Christ giving himself up for us is so difficult even to put into words. I think about the stress of the moment at hand as He prayed in the garden at Gethsemane and began to sweat drops of blood. Jesus wasn't worried about the pain that He was about to endure, the betrayal of Judas, or even the denial of Peter. For the first time in the history of eternity, Jesus was about to experience separation from the Father. This is what grieved our Lord. This is why He asked three times that night for the cup to pass. He wasn't afraid of the physical pain that awaited. In order to purchase us and pay the penalty for our sin and rebellion, Jesus was to die alone on the cross. For the first time and the last time, the weight of our sin would be poured out on Him. One way to tell the value of something is to see how much someone would pay for it. How much did Jesus love and value the Church? How much did He give to get us back? He gave everything He had … willingly. This is God's definition of love. Men, this is the starting point for how we are called to love our wives. How many of us are even coming close? Before we ask our wives to submit, remember that Christ gave Himself up for you a LONG time before you submitted to Him.
Now the passage between vs 25 – 33 reads like a Christian couple's seminar “how to” guide, and then verse 32 just sort of pops out: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” What is the mystery that Paul is talking about? What is the great, supernatural significance of his instruction on marriage as a parallel to Christ and the church? Well, we know that there are physical, psychological, and sociological benefits to Biblical marriage, but what about the mystery that Paul refers to? Is Paul just trying to give us a lesson on how to have a good marriage by following Christ's example? No, there's more. Much more. The supernatural significance of Biblical marriage is that it serves as a tool to show the world what Agape (look it up) love looks like played out in the lives of the Church. What better way to demonstrate what has happened on the inside than to see it demonstrated daily between Christian husbands and wives? Men, we are called to make disciples of the nations, but our first ministry is to our wives. IF we do this, our kids will grow up in a home seeing the love of Christ being lived out in front of their very eyes. The ripple effect would be enormous.
No wonder this version of marriage is under attack. It's not just to mess up our old, conservative view of marriage. The devil seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). What better way to accomplish this than to attack the most viable tool for spreading the Gospel from generation to generation? Christian marriages have similar divorce rates of non-churched couples. We have husbands hooked on sinful indulgences, personal hobbies turned idols, and achieving corporate success. We have a culture that is seeking to invent new types of marriage. They scoff at our “old-fashioned” views because our lives have about as much fruit as theirs do. Look, I'm all about getting things right with our laws and all that, but you can't legislate morality…you've got to live it. Am I concerned about the world my kids will grow up in? I sure am. But as I'm going through this study, I'm seeing that God wants me to be more concerned about what kind of home my kids grow up in. Are my kids seeing the Gospel lived out through me in front of them? It's not enough just to teach our kids Bible stories and how we should 'act' in front of others…if this is all we do, we may only be showing them how to be better hypocrites. Husbands, you have to be willing to bleed for your wife like Christ did for the church. You get this right, you get a lot right.
So husbands, future husbands, and ex-husbands, what do we do now? It sounds good when we hear head of the household and submission, doesn't it? What about sacrifice? When we fail to duplicate what Christ did for us, we not only fail our families, but we are also failing to live out our calling to reach the world with the Gospel. If you are a husband right now, how will today be any different in view of this? If you have hopes of one day getting married and leading a family, how will you allow Jesus' example to shape you in preparation to lead a family? If you are an ex-husband, know that God's grace is bigger than any past failed marriage. If He brings a second chance, let this time be different.