Sunday, June 3, 2012

Christian Homes: "As Christ Loved the Church"

Spirit & Truth # 274
Christian Homes:  As Christ Loved the Church”

By Greg Smith

            In these weeks from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day we’re talking about how we can have Christian homes.  We heard the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:21-22[1]: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”  This week, the submission verse has a counterbalance, which reads: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).”  God calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church—to the point of self-sacrifice.

            How does Jesus love His bride, the church?  He puts her needs above His own.  1 Peter 2:23-24 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”  If you’re a husband, then God wants you to love your wife by resisting the urge to retaliate.  Love your wife by being willing to trade being right for being responsible.  Love your wife more than you love your rights—then you’ll be able to show Christ’s kind of love.

            Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus didn’t wait for us to apologize for our sin before He gave Himself to save us.  Instead, He offered His restoration first, and then invited us to receive it.  God asks husbands to do the same with their wives.  Don’t demand an apology when you think she’s in the wrong.  Instead, forgive her, even without an apology.  Not because you think she deserves it, but just because you love her.

            2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Jesus loves the church by keeping His promises.  Husbands who love their wives as Christ loved the church must follow the Lord’s example, and be trustworthy in all they say.

            Jesus gives gifts to His church—something that husbands would do well to learn.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Then the Holy Spirit, sent by our Lord, also gives ministry gifts to the church (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).  In the same way, husbands need to love their wives by giving good things to demonstrate their love.

            In Romans 8:34 and 1 John 2:1, Jesus demonstrates His love for His bride by praying for believers.  Husbands—are you praying daily for your wives?  You will—if you love your wives as Christ loved the church.  Even as Jesus does, intercede before the Father on her behalf.  Show her Christ’s kind of love.

            Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  To give your wife the love of Christ means to be faithful to her as long as you live.  “The one who calls you is faithful,” says 1 Thessalonians 5:24.  So should you be—if you love your wife with the love of Christ.

            Dr. Anthony Campolo writes:

I challenge those who come to me for marriage counseling this way: "If you do what I tell you to do for an entire month, I can promise you that by the end of the month, you will be in love with your mate. Are you willing to give it a try?" When couples accept my challenge, the results are invariably successful. My prescription for creating love is simple: do ten things each day that you would do if you really were in love. I know that if people do loving things, it will not be long before they experience the feelings that are often identified as being in love. Love is not those feelings. Love is what one wills to do to make the other person happy and fulfilled. Often, we don't realize that what a person does influences what he feels.[2] 

            I have found this to be true in my own marriage.  During those times when I haven’t felt particularly loving, I have decided to behave in a loving way.  I have found that the act of loving shapes the attitude of love.  So when “you’ve lost that loving feeling,” bring it back by loving your wife anyway.  I imagine that the church isn’t always easy for Jesus to live with.  Yet He loves her unconditionally.  If you’re going to love your wife the way Jesus loves the church, you’ve got to give that kind of unconditional love.  Give yourself up for her.  Only by giving yourself away will you gain God’s—and your wife’s—ultimate love.

[1] All quotes taken from the New International Version
[2] Dr. Anthony Campolo.  Homemade, June, 1988.

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