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Ephesians 5:25, 28-29 (ESV)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...in the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church”
AS CHRIST LOVED
This week, we are taking a brief intermission from the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in order to consider the unity which the Lord desires for a husband and wife within the covenant of marriage. A unified marriage is not only joyful, but, in a mysterious way, a witness to others about Jesus’ love for His church.
Unfortunately, unified, Christ-exalting marriages are passing away with each generation. In their place are men and women who don’t understand what is needed within their heart in order to experience ‘one flesh.’ Sadly, four out of ten marriages end in divorce and an increasing amount of people see no point of even getting married at all.
In the twenty-first century, relational and gender confusion abounds. I believe this is especially true for men.
Boys learn to be men best by spending time with other men. Yet, more than one in four children are currently growing up without a father in the home. And for those who do have a father present, many of those adults are easily consumed with their jobs or hobbies and spend little time emotionally investing into their maturing children.
Therefore, young men adapt their depictions and goals of manhood from what they watch on a screen – which is usually far from Godly behavior.
Where should people, but especially men, turn when they want to better understand what a relationship should look like within the home?
The Apostle Paul addresses this within Ephesians 5. Husbands specifically are called to love in the same way that Christ loved the church.
So, how did Jesus ‘nourish and cherish’ his disciples, the first leaders of the church?
For this answer, let’s go to some of Jesus’ interactions as recorded in the Gospel of Luke.
Jesus enjoyed eating with his disciples…and their friends (Lk 5:29).
He blessed and taught them with his words (6:20ff).
He took retreats with them (9:10) - sometimes for the sake of spiritual renewal (9:28).
He was willing to be interrupted (9:11) and yet involved his disciples in the work which needed to get done (9:16).
He creatively and gently settled arguments (9:46-47).
And, of course, he took the posture of a servant by washing His disciples’ feet (John 13:5) and surrendering His life even to the point of death (Phil. 2:8).
Without a clear image of Jesus in view, men will likely contribute very little into unifying a marriage because they will not know how to love ‘as Christ loved.’ But for those who are in Christ and abiding in Him, the Holy Spirit both compels and empowers men to love like Jesus, especially within their family.
Now this kind of love may not often make the evening news or the silver screen. But it’s the kind of love which makes a difference for an eternity – one generation at a time.
Lord, help all of us to lay down our lives daily and truly cherish those within our families, for Your glory. Through Jesus, Amen!