As Christ Loved the Church

Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

What does it mean when Jesus says that he wants the husband to be the head of the family operation? Do you notice what is missing from Paul’s discussion for husbands? There is no talk of dictating orders. He doesn’t talk about enforcing the rules. There are no explanations of how he is going to take control. It is true that the head leads. But a leader is out in front on all the action. He doesn’t watch from the comfort of his easy chair. He is the first to get to work. If the leader isn’t out in front, how can anyone follow him?

What I’m saying is that there is nothing in Paul’s description of a husband’s role that excuses him to serve himself. There is nothing that says, “I can do anything I want,” unless all that he ever wants is to love and sacrifice for the woman he has married. With Jesus, leading starts and ends with love.

So look at a Christian wife again through Jesus’ eyes. See her as Jesus sees you. What you see is not a source of cheap labor. She is also not someone who is perfect. But she is still someone for her husband to give up the rest of his entire life. That’s what Jesus did, isn’t it? Not just six hours on a cross, but thirty-three years from birth to death to life again. All that time he had a single purpose: to love us and win our salvation. He made us look beautiful to him by cleansing our souls and getting rid of all the stains, wrinkles, and blemishes of sin.

This is a Christian husband’s mission. He gives up his life to make his wife beautiful, to make her life beautiful–not with make-up and jewelry and expensive clothes. If he can give her some of that, too, then fine. But he gives himself up by being the Christian leader in his family. He studies the woman he married and gets to know what her heart needs. Then he makes it his life’s goal to give it to her.

He gives his time. He gives his attention. He leads the whole family to God’s word and to prayer. Nothing he hopes to accomplish in his career, no hobby or interest, is more important than loving this one woman like Christ loves his church, like Christ has loved him. That means giving himself up for her.

Most models are something to look at for only a little while. Once we have followed the pattern, and built our own thing, we don’t need them anymore. Christ’s model for marriage is different. It’s not just a pattern to follow. It is the gospel that saves us. It is a power that changes us. It is a promise to believe. Let’s keep it in front of us always.

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