Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christ and the church

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33.


I am mesmerized by these verses and what they tell us about both the marriage relationship, and about the relationship of Christ and the church. What an amazing comparison! What a privilege, as a married couple, we have to reflect Christ and the church to the world. And how much there is to learn from our daily experiences.

A few months ago, Mark had to travel to Great Britain, on a trip that was long planned to include both of us. Because of circumstances beyond our control, I was unable to go, and was obliged to remain at home, going about all my usual tasks..but my mind was on my husband. When I awoke in the morning, or in the middle of the night, instantly I would calculate what the time was for him, think of his itinerary, imagine what he was doing. I would look up pictures on Wikipedia of where he was supposed to be. I looked forward to our daily phone call as the highlight of my day. I bought him a graduation present, and cleaned like a madwoman, preparing the house for his return. My household tasks did not seem heavy to me, but a joy, something I could do for him even while he was gone. And as I did all this, Ephesians 5 entered my mind, and it occurred to me that the intensity of my loneliness for my absent husband and my deep longing to be reunited was a picture of how we, as Christ's church, should pine for and prepare for His return. How much should we desire to order everything according to His stated will, so that we can be found pleasing on that day! How much should our work He has given us not be a burden, but a delight, a way given us to be pleasing to the one we should long to please!

But, we are human and life gets hard. What if our work just isn't a joy? It can't always be; we live in a fallen world, and we have a long road. That is where the true nature of love is revealed. As wives and mothers, we cook dinner on the nights when we honestly could not possibly care less about cooking dinner, as well as on the nights when it is a pleasure. Because, while there is great joy to be found in our labors, and joy to be found in doing one's duty, it's not always fun. (If we are honest, it frequently isn't!) It is then, when it really gets tough, that love is tested. And it's when we fail, as we always, inevitably, will, that we rest in the love and forgiveness that is showered upon us. The difference, of course, is that while a husband doesn't, and shouldn't, expect perfection, our Lord does, and He laid down His life for our faithlessness.


And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

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