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Our Adversary, Our Armor, Our Obligations
New Relationships with Each Other Because of Our Relationship with Him
God's Will and Way for His Glory and Your Good in Marriage
The Ruling Principle for All Relationships
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 2
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 1
How Do You Define Love? The Divine Way or the Deceiver's Way?
Walking in the Light: What it Looks Like and Why We Do It
A New Life Resolution for a New Year
The earthly perfect harmony. How do you get it? I think it's something so many of us want. If we haven't experienced some semblance of it, if we haven't seen it, we all at least dream it's out there. It is the Princess Buttercup and the reformed Dread Pirate Roberts' relationship we all think one day we'll have, that we'll get to experience it. How do you do it?
The fact is, our world is looking for it. In fact, they have left so many different plans proposed by the world that they've started to go and introduce their own ways to figure out whether or not a relationship would work. They have all different types of things. They have marriages where they'll just run trial marriages. For six months, people will move in together. You'll have folks who will cohabitate for a long time and try not to marry; therefore, they won't have to have this harmony that's broken.
You'll have what's called serial monogamy, which is where people go in and out of one relationship after another until they can find the right one. You have every kind of different option our world has suggested in order to bring about that earthly perfect harmony. Some have suspected the problem is that man and woman don't belong together, so they've gone man-man and woman-woman. They're not sure an earthly perfect harmony can really be attained.
Let me ask you something. If Ford or if General Motors or if you… If you were creating a product, and 40 to 60 percent of those products you were creating were breaking down just a few short years after they were on the market, wouldn't you think some major transformation about the way you're producing that product would be in order? Don't you think the public would cry for new instructions, for new design plans, to be implemented? I think so.
We have so much havoc in the production of marriages in our country. You know the statistics vary, but they stay very close to 50 percent. Somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of marriages produced in America today end in ruin short years after they're first introduced to society. There needs to be a major transformation about the way people go into producing a perfect earthly harmony. How to do it?
Here's one couple. I pulled this out of the Dallas Morning News right before Valentine's Day. Here are some of the ways people have turned, some of the things they've stooped to. This is a couple whose names are Rex and Teresa LeGalley. Rex and Teresa are an interesting couple because both of them got into this because they said, "What we did is we came, and we took into account all the memories from our past and all the anxieties we have about the future."
Rex explained that the reason he was motivated to achieve an earthly perfect harmony this way is because he had two earlier marriages which had failed, and he was eager to avoid future mistakes. Theresa said her bottom line was to avoid doing anything that would upset the other person in a way similar to the way she upset her former husband.
They sat down together and, really as a way to get to know each other, they began to talk about what they thought would allow them to have this perfect earthly harmony. They went through and started to write down some rules for their relationship. It's interesting some of these rules they put down. It eventually grew into a prenuptial agreement.
It, in fact, was classified as Document No. 95-065775. It was buried for a lot of years in the town where they were from in New Mexico, until one day somebody came across it and couldn't believe what they read. It turned out to be a 16-page document where these two went through and wrote down the rules and regulations which they would both adhere to, which would allow them to have an earthly perfect harmony.
Here are a few of them. On lovemaking, they wrote down in a contract that they will "engage in healthy sex three to five times per week." On sleeping habits, it's in their contract that they will have lights out by 11:30 p.m. and wake up at 6:30 a.m. On gender roles (interesting that they went this way), it says Mr. LeGalley would be assigned "full responsibility for family leadership and decision-making."
She "was in charge of household chores and shopping, with the promise to work off a list every time she goes to the grocery store," in the contract. On neatness, "nothing [will be left] on the floor overnight, unless packing for a trip." On pregnancy, Teresa would stay on the pill for two years and then try to get pregnant, upon which time they would agree to not get pregnant again except by mutual consent. On one of the other pages it said that they will pay off all credit card debts first before any major purchases and "pay cash for everything unless mutually agreed upon otherwise."
On communication, "We won't raise our voices or get snappy until we count to 10 first." For 16 pages it goes on and on and on. On driving (I have to read this), "To never drive any closer to another car than 'one-car length per 10 mph'." They said they would "buy supreme unleaded Chevron fuel only" and "never let the fuel gage get lower than half full."
This couple felt like the way to achieve this earthly perfect harmony was a 16-page lawyer-produced document that they had a lot of input with. They thought this is what would do it. It's interesting how many of the things they bring out there… Again, listen to their goal. "We just want to avoid things that would upset the other person." You see, 16 pages of legalese was their idea on how to accomplish the earthly perfect harmony.
Here's another one. This came together from a group of expert women who got together. They wrote down the way they would suggest coming about with an earthly perfect harmony. It's called The Rules. Here's how it goes:
"The female always makes the rules. The rules are subject to change at any time without prior notification. No male can possibly know all the rules. If the female suspects the male knows the rules, she must immediately change some or all of the rules. The female is never wrong. If the female is wrong, it is due to a misunderstanding which was a direct result of something the male did or said wrong. The male must apologize immediately for causing any misunderstanding.
The female may change her mind at any time. The male must never change his mind without express written consent of the female. The female has every right to be angry or upset at any time. The male must remain calm at all times unless the female wants him to be angry and/or upset.
The female must, under no circumstances, let the male know whether or not she wants him to be angry and/or upset. The male is expected to mind read at all times. The female is ready when she is ready. The male must be ready at all times." Then they say all rules are null and void if the female is suffering a specific time of the month.
Earthly perfect harmony if you follow those rules? Some women might think so. It's fun to laugh at, but let me tell you, our world is dying for an answer. Of the marriages, 40 to 60 percent we're producing are not ending that way. What's the secret?
I think, like never before, the church (well, like before, but we never have) needs to again rise up, to be salt and light, and to say, "This is how. This is the way you do it. This is how not just 40 to 60 percent can make it, but this is how 100 percent of marriages will not just stay together but will experience what the Bible says marriage should be."
Don't turn there but think back to how God first introduced the need for a man to have a woman. He created the need in the man. He let the man know there's no way he could have his need met on his own. He created every living being before Adam, it says. Adam saw for every Mr. Hippo, there was a Mrs. Hippo. For every Mr. Giraffe, there was a Mrs. Giraffe. Yet there was nothing that corresponded to him, and there was nothing he could do to find it or create it.
He had to go to God for that need. God perfectly met his need through the creation of the woman, who was somebody who is equal in her image of God, who has all the rights as a coheir that Adam did, who corresponds to Adam and yet is not like Adam. They are equal, but they are not the same. They complement, and they complete each other. The woman was a gift. God did not tell Adam, "Go find her." God brought the woman to the man and said, "Adam, here is the woman. I give her to you. She is a gift."
Let me throw this in right here. Men, I will tell you, women are scared to death of us. There is so much distrust between the sexes. There is so much fear. There is such a lack of understanding that I don't blame women for a bit. We have not done what God has asked us to do in Ephesians, chapter 5, and so they have recoiled in fear and they have struck back in competition.
God intended for us to see woman as a gift, as something which would bring about completion and wholeness in our lives. That is especially true in the most intimate of all male-female relationships in marriage. Well, why is marriage such a scary thing for so many of us? I'll tell you this, husbands who are out there and men who one day will have wives, you need to understand that even some day when you devalue that gift, it says in Proverbs, "House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is [a gift] from the LORD."
There are going to be times when you're going to have this gift that you're going to receive for some period of time. Time will have gone on, and you're not going to value it like you did that brand-new gift or some other thing you see out there that you think, "You know, I wish somebody would give me that."
Even when you haven't the sense to value the gift God gave you, you need to remember who it is who gave you that gift. It's God himself who gives woman to man, who gives wife to a husband. Even when you don't have the sense to nourish, to cherish, to value, you need to go, "You know what, though? I need to nourish, to cherish, and to value this because of who gave it to me. The real worth of this gift to me is not whether or not I assess value to it. It is in who the giver of the gift was."
There's an old story about a kid who was going through a great museum, a great place where masterpieces of art were hung. They stood before one that really just didn't look that fantastic. In fact, it was the Mona Lisa. The kid stood back there, and the museum tour guide was going through and talking about how exquisite this work was by da Vinci and how valuable it was.
The kid kind of shouted to his buddy, "It doesn't look like it's that great to me," to which the tour guide spoke over her audience to the young man in the back. She said, "Son, this is a masterpiece. This has been handed down through the ages and acclaims to be one of the greatest productions of man that has ever been done and ever hung in an art gallery. This painting is not on trial. You are."
So it is with the way we treat women, men. Women are not on trial based on how we treat them. We're on trial. Do we see the value in them that God put in them? Women are masterpieces. They are God's final act of creation upon which, having completed creation, he said, "It is very good. It is done." How can men and women cohabitate in earthly perfect harmony? You'll find the answer right here in Ephesians, chapter 5. Turn there with me.
If you guys will remember, Ephesians 5 is a place where Paul kind of set it all up by simply saying in verse 21, "This here is the operative means through which all relationships must function." This is the spirit. This here is the function of how you will operate within the order, within the structure, within the form that is about to follow. That spirit, that operation, that function, is in Ephesians 5:21. Let's read it again. It says, "…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ."
Now I need to remind you that what's about to follow from here is not just Paul touting the party line. Paul's words were like vinegar in that society. When he introduced Ephesians to the people in Ephesus, and as the letter spread and later was canonized in the ancient world of Rome where Greeks and Jews were dispersed, you need to know that for them to read this was like, "Are you kidding me? You think men and women can get along and should get along like this?"
I imagine that a lot of folks when they read Ephesians 5:22-33 said exactly what the disciples said to Jesus when they first heard Jesus talk about marriage, or again heard Jesus talk about marriage in Matthew 19. They looked at him and said, "If this is so, it is better that we shouldn't marry."
Do you know that every day when Jewish men woke up, their prayers started like this? "God, I thank you that you have not made me a slave, a Gentile, or a woman." Do you know that in Rome women were really only seen as sources of pleasure for men? Wives were really no more than there to bear children, and women were really put in one of two categories. They were there to either produce children so the man's name could continue, or they were concubines. Concubines were a legal practice of the day.
One of the great writers of Roman history said, basically, that the marriage adventure had lost all spiritual significance and was mocked at during the day. Seneca, a great Roman philosopher, said, "They divorce in order to remarry. They marry in order to divorce." He mocked them. There was nothing in that society that made marriage a valued institution, and much less in a marriage…
Not just preservation of the marriage, but to see what God intended for marriage to be, which is not just fidelity. It's much more than that. Marriage is not just if you wouldn't divorce. It's much more than that. What God intends for us in a marriage is oneness. The enemy to oneness is a creeping separateness that is introduced almost right away in every relationship, where we begin to drift apart. If we are not diligent to preserve the spirit of unity in the bond of peace, we will drift. That is true of us as a body. It is certainly true of a marriage.
What Paul is beginning to introduce here, in Ephesians 5:22, was not just the party line. It stuck right in their faces. It's so amazing to me as I go back and read. There's a lady name Meg Greenfield. I read an excerpt of an article she wrote in Newsweek in 1984. She was talking about how wonderful things were in Rome and wondered why we can't go back to the tolerance and the acceptance of the day, where there were no gender roles, there were no absolute truths. Men and women did as they pleased, and no one told them what they did was wrong.
Isn't that amazing, that when you look back at what happened to Rome, as it was a house divided, as it tore itself down from within, that we want to go back to that? A man has said, and said well, that in the front of every history book there ought to be these words written: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." As we go throughout history, you heard it said again and again, "Those who are not students of history are bound to repeat it," and yet those of us who are students of history long to go back to Egypt.
We long to go back to the days of slavery, oppression, disillusion, distrust, and rampant immorality, where people mocked at any kind of value in society. We say, "Oh, the ancient days of Rome, when freedom rang." The Bible says, "Nope. This is what you long for. Let me introduce it to you."
Let's read the passage together. Ephesians 5:22. It says, "Wives, be subject…" If you'll see in most of your Bibles, be subject is in italics. The reason it's in italics is because it's just understood. It is so interesting to me that when we read Ephesians 5:22, we focus on the woman. We focus on what the responsibility, or the role, of the woman is. That's not the focus of this passage at all.
You go to most men's homes and if they're going to have anything etched in granite, it's Ephesians 5:22. There are guys who don't know a lick of stuff in the Bible, but they can go, "Hey, you're my wife. Be subject. Submit to me." They love that verse. They don't even know where it is. They aren't sure where it is, but they just want to believe it. They'll sketch it in granite. "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord."
Do you know what's going on here? You have three different relationships of authority and submission to authority that Paul is going to pour out here from Ephesians 5:22, all the way through Ephesians 6:9. There is one of those three relationships that is different from the other two. You have husband-wife, parent-child, and employer-employee or master-slave. In the latter two, it is the person who is in submission who gets the bulk of the instruction over the one who is authority (how you handle yourself in that one). The exception is in marriage.
What you have are three verses on how the wives respond to who their husbands are, and you have, from verse 25 down to verse 33, instruction for the husbands on how to accomplish what they should pursue in marriage. This is a passage which doesn't teach submission of women. It teaches how men should love their wives. It really exalts, not the responsibility of the woman, although it's there, but it exalts and emphasizes the responsibility of the husband, which will make the responsibility of the wife that much easier. It says in Ephesians 5:22,
"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself."
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband." Pray with me for a second.
Father, we have come to you, products of our age. We are living in a culture that is producing a product in marriage which is falling apart at an alarming rate. We are on the back end of years of humanity that has done the same thing, and yet we long to go back and try the same failed patterns they did.
Tonight, we come again anew and afresh to your Scripture, to your Word, and I pray you would correct our understanding of what marriage is. I pray you would correct our distorted views of what the role of the wife is, the role of the man is, the responsibility of the wife, and the responsibility of the man.
I pray we might begin to be salt and light and not espouse a traditional marriage, which existed in the 50s, but espouse a biblical marriage, which will create a oneness, which creates a joy, a freedom, and a source of protection for both parties involved, and which, more than anything, glorifies you.
I pray we would achieve here on this earth a perfect earthly harmony where you have plurality, where you have diversity, dwelling in unity, and in that, we would be a perfect reflection of you and your love for us. I pray, God, that you would start it here, that you would start it, certainly in the marriages that exist, and that you would purpose in individual's hearts tonight to have it continue in their lives. We pray this in Christ's name, amen.
In verse 22, it starts. It says, "Wives…" Then that "…be subject…" is understood. In the Greek, it really just says, "Wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Meaning, "Hey, listen. Wives, you do this to your husbands as you do to the Lord." Women, you need to know this. As you are obedient to, as you respond to, your husband in obedience, in reverential response, you're doing it in a way of obeying and honoring Christ. The Scripture says simply that there are many different relationships where there is order.
Let me say again, verse 21 gives you the operative means through which you should relate to one another, but as in every organization where there is going to be success, there need to be different roles. An organization is successful not when everybody does the same thing but when people do diverse things for the sake of having a healthy relationship and accomplishing what God or what that organization intends to produce.
There has to be order. There is no such thing as equality in a relationship, where everybody in a business does the exact same thing, but just because we're not doing the same thing, it doesn't mean one of us has to be superior and one of us has to be inferior. That is something we've introduced, and the Bible never, ever upholds it.
In the Trinity, you have the Father expressing himself in certain roles, Jesus expressing himself in certain roles, and the Holy Spirit expressing himself in certain roles, and yet they are all God. Equal. Coeternal. They are all God. In fact, one of them is not God by itself. The Father is not God. Jesus is not God, in and of himself.
They are persons of the Trinity. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one in essence, who are subordinate in function. All of them individually have the same essence, they are God, but one of them without the other is an incomplete revelation of who God is.
We have made it so that if everybody isn't doing the same thing, if everybody is not accomplishing the same thing or focusing on the same thing, that one must be superior, and one must be inferior. We have become a bunch of heretics theologically. When you make a wife less important than a husband because her role is different, you become an anthropological heretic.
Let me say this right away. What you have in Ephesians 5:22 is not the role of the wife. It is the most common misunderstanding that the role of the wife is to submit. That is not true. The role of the wife we looked at last week in Genesis 2:18, where it says he made the wife as a helpmate suitable, as a suitable helper. That word in the Hebrew, which is used right there for the woman, where it says that her role with the man is to complete him, is the same word.
It appears about 19 other times in the New Testament. It is used 5 times of a man helping another man. It used some 14 other times of God helping humanity. Never is it used of an inferior helping a superior. We have such a distorted view of what it means to be a helper. We kind of look at it like Gilligan helping the Skipper.
That's not at all what it is. It is somebody who will offer something to strengthen their relationship, to bring it about to completion. We would never want to say God is inferior to us, and so we're going to call him alongside to help us. In fact, it's just the opposite. The role of the woman is not a passive role.
I had a woman who was engaged to be married, and she was in my office for premarital counseling. She said, "You know, it's clear what the role of the husband is, as it's revealed here in Ephesians 5:22-24, but what do I do? What does it mean to just be subject?" I said, "Don't misunderstand. What that is, when you subject yourself to your husband, that is the way you respond to who God has made him, that you will let him be what God intended him to be."
In fact, every time I marry a couple, I'll give them a charge. I'll look at the man, and I'll say, "Will you give your life for this woman as Jesus Christ gave his life for the church? Will you treat her with patience and understanding because the Scriptures say you're dealing with a different vessel, a weaker vessel? Will you let her be? Will you treat her, though, with great honor and cherish her, because she is your coheir in Jesus Christ?"
I turn to the woman, and I say, "Will you give all the input in the world as your husband confidently listens to you? It's an active role. Will you help him be all God intended him to be, but will you let him be all God intended him to be, which is the head of your home?" One is a role and one is a responsibility.
I'll say this again. The role of the wife is to be a helpmate, and that is to come alongside and bring about a completion to a husband as only a woman can do. There is a sensitivity, there is an insight, there is an intellect, there is a fiber in their being which completes the man. A wise man will pull that out of his wife. In fact, that's what you're going to find in the responsibility of the husband. It is the role of the husband, as we see here. Let's read it together again.
"Wives…to your own husbands…" By the way, that idea of own? That really shows there that in a husband-wife relationship there is an intimacy. There is an ownership of a wife to her husband. "…to your own husbands…" specifically. Not women to all men, not single women to single men, but a married woman to a man whom she is married to. In him, subject yourself to his authority. I want to stop right here and throw this out. There are, in Scripture, four different areas where there is an authority-submission relationship.
You have it in government over its citizens. God has ordained that government has a right to make laws, and citizens should submit themselves to God's ordaining that government for the purpose of introducing law and order. There is, in employee-employer relationships, a subservient role. "Slave, do what your master tells you to do." There is a parent-child relationship. It says, "Child, do what your parents tell you to do." There is, in marriage, "Wives, do what your husband asks you to do."
Every single one of them is qualified with as to the Lord, meaning that if there is any time government supersedes its authority and goes outside of what God said it should do, if it violates God's revealed Word, if your parents ask you to do things that are not of Christ, if your husband asks you to do things that are not of Christ, you are not bound. In fact, you are held accountable if you do it.
If you remember, when Ananias and Sapphira were accused in Acts, chapter 5, of lying. The husband and the wife were brought separately, and they were both asked the same questions. "What did you do? Are you lying?" When she lied, she was held into account just like when he lied. You are responsible for doing what Christ would have you do, and you can shelter yourself under the fact that you're going to serve a living God who cares for you.
In all the other very general things God would have you do, it says to let your husband lead in your house. There has to be order, and you should do it in a way (1 Peter 3 tells us) that is quiet, that is encouraging, that is loving, and that you can win him over with your quiet and submissive spirit. That doesn't mean, though, that you tolerate abuse.
Fact: The sin expression of a woman in a relationship is that she will do one of two things. God said the role of a woman is to complete the man. When a woman is in sin, she'll do one of two things. She will either compete with the man for his position of control or she will condone whatever the man does. Both of those are inappropriate expressions of a woman.
A wife should never let a husband continue in abuse, should never let a husband continue in sinful patterns like breaking the law or being inconsiderate. In fact, there has to be a time when she goes to him and says, "The tone of voice you use to me consistently is not of Christ. I'm not here to complain so I might have my needs met. I want you to be the man God intended you to be."
My wife, again and again, helps me see who I am not. Even if I can quench the Spirit in me, she is doing me no favors if I quench the Spirit of God who lives in her, who will speak truth to me and let me see. "You know what, Todd? We didn't sign a prenuptial agreement that we wouldn't follow that car one-length behind, but you are awful close right now." Sometimes she'll ask me if my attitude is of Christ. She'll ask me if a comment I made is what he would have me make. She will help me be all God intends me to be, to complete me. She won't condone sin.
Women, understand this. In being subject to your husband as head, that doesn't mean you let him continue in disobedience to Christ. In fact, that's the worst thing a helper could do. If you are to complete a man, and the ideal of a completed man is to be in the image of Christ, the last thing you want to do is condone him in sin.
Also, though, you don't want to compete because he's abusive to you and say, "All right. You want to arm wrestle? You want to go at it? Let's go at it. I'll withhold things from you. I'll manipulate you. I'll strike out in anger at you, and I'll show you that you can't control me." Also a sinful expression.
By the way, in a man, God's role for a man is that he would dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness, that you would get in the garden and do business, that you would conduct yourself well. There are two common sinful expressions of man. One is that man would go in, and he wouldn't dwell in the land, but he'd dominate the land. He'd go in and rape and pillage it because he's stronger and greater than the land and that which is around him.
He'll use his strength to go in there, to take the fruits he wants, and then abandon it, or he'll just stay there, bring it under oppression, and use it for what he wills in disobedience to what God would have him do. Husbands, men, are called to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. A sinful man will dominate a woman, will exploit his greatness, his strength, his position.
The other thing a sinful man will do is he won't dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. He won't work hard. He will desert. He won't dwell. He'll either dominate, or he'll desert. He'll stay there, and when there are no longer easy pickings, when it's not giving him what he wants, he is out of there. He won't stay and continue to nourish and to cherish that individual or that place God gave him to rule. He's gone.
The woman is there to complete. The man is there to dwell and cultivate faithfulness. Not to dominate and not to desert. You see men do two things that make it awful hard for women to fulfill their role the way God tells them to do it. It doesn't give women a permission to not do it, but you see us as men dominating. Raping and pillaging the land. Using it for our own whim and pleasure. That is not godly leadership.
You'll see us deserting it as soon as it gets tough. If we have a wife who isn't responding like we want her to, we're gone. It says in verse 22, "Wives, don't condone sin. Don't compete with your husband, but honor Christ by honoring your husband in the order God ordained." Don't see this as a confusing thing where different roles have to mean difference in importance. The role of the wife is to complete. The role of the husband is to be the head.
The responsibility is what you have there in Ephesians 5:22. The responsibility is, "Wives, let your husbands be what God intended them to be." Here's how you do it. "Not passively, but I want you to give input. I want you to let them know how to be the man God wants them to be."
I love what Philip Yancey said. In the back of Christianity Today this week, he has a little article he wrote to his wife on their twenty-fifth anniversary. It's interesting what Yancey wrote. Yancey wrote a very insightful thing right here, because he, as a man who is head of his family, is not intimidated by the fact that God gave him his wife and gave him a gift in his wife, things that he is not. It is the role of any great leader to allow those who are underneath them in position to be great. In fact, poor leadership will always suppress and squelch.
Those of you who are frustrated in business, are you not frustrated because your boss is dabbling in all your affairs and wants to make sure you're not encroaching on their ground? Do you feel like you have no life, you have no reason to be there, but you're squandered into a certain position or in a certain role? Absolutely. That is an insecure employer, an insecure boss. A great boss empowers his people and lets them be all they can be.
By the way, I didn't mention this, but there's another place of order. It tells the people in the church to submit themselves to their spiritual authority. In both those places where women, by the way, are allowed to be in any position of government, there's no restriction in the Scripture. Woman obviously lead their children.
There are two places and two roles where women cannot serve according to God-ordained revelation. One is women are not to lead the church, and second, women are not to lead the family. In both those two specifically, God reveals that it's the role of the man, who should lead the church and lead the family, to make those who are underneath him great.
It is my greatest responsibility as a pastor not to say, "How can I use you, exploit you, to build a kingdom upon which I am enthroned, and I feel good that all my needs are met?" It is my responsibility as a pastor to do one thing. That is to make you successful at what God has called you to be. Every bit of my energy and every bit of my passion ought to be channeled into that.
As a husband, my number one priority is to make my wife successful at what God has called her to be. If I am squelching that, I am ruining and distorting my view. We all know there is a parable that talks about how you are not to bury your talents. Is that right? Don't bury your talents. What do you think is going to happen to a number of men who, because of their insecurity and misunderstanding, have buried the talents of their wives and their daughters?
It should be the job of the head to go, "You know what? I need to find out, sweetie, what your talents are. I need to find out what your giftedness is, and I need to help you use that to the greatest, for God's glory, that you can possibly use it. In fact, I'm here to serve you, that you might become faithful in all God has made you to be." It is an insecure man, an insecure leader, who won't do that.
Philip Yancey wrote this. He says, "Because I write work that is performed in a public setting, I get more accolades. But I believe, truly," he says to his wife, "that at the end of my life when I look back on whatever I might have accomplished, nothing will surpass in holy significance the role I have played in providing an environment that helps you do what you do best."
Let me tell you this. When you have a body that does what the head asks it to do, you have a well-coordinated body. People love to see a well-coordinated body work. All the Scriptures are saying is, "Be a well-coordinated body. Work to the glory of the whole. Head, don't exalt yourself over your body. Don't you know you can't exist without it?"
You're going to find that same relationship expressed later down in this chapter, where it talks about how Christ loves us because we're his body. He cannot accomplish his purposes on earth, or he chooses not to accomplish them in that picture, without us, so he values us. He sees us as an integral part of who he is. Husbands, so should you with your wives.
If you have a head, on the other hand, that abuses its body, what do you say about that head? There is some retardation up there. There is some improper thinking. That is a deceived mind that destroys the body. How about this? When you have a head that will not let the body be nourished and cherished, what you have is an anemic person.
What we have so many times in this world are anemic marriages because heads are scared of having a well-coordinated body and letting that body be all God intended that it should be. It is the role of the wife to complete, and that is not a shameful thing. It is a gift. It's the foolish man who doesn't use the gift that he was given.
I think of way back when. Remember Lost in Space? Dr. Smith was a fool. Every time he was around that robot… Now, women, don't get me in trouble. I'm not comparing you to Mr. Robot. He always would go, "Danger! Danger! Warning! Warning!" Dr. Smith always would scoff at the Robot, go on and go ahead, and always get himself in trouble.
I will tell you, women, you as helpers are supposed to look at your husbands sometimes and go, "Danger! Danger! Warning! Warning!" Help the brother! Use the moral capacity God put in you. If Dr. Smith chooses to be a fool, you've done your role. You love him, and you continue to call out when you see things the way they are.
Men, don't be fools! Listen to the gift God has given to you. I will tell you that my wife sees things I probably just refuse to see and sometimes maybe, honestly, can't see. She is a gift to me. If I resent her, not only do I resent that gift in foolishness, but I resent the one who gave me that gift. I kill the lion God has put in my path, as Samson killed the lion that was going to keep him from going and entering into sin in his relationships. That is what a foolish man does.
Continuing. Look what it says in verse 23. It says, "For the husband is the head of the wife…" There's the role of the husband. It's mentioned that the role of the husband is not his rank. That's just what he does. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."
Interesting that he says that man and Christ are the same, and they're both head over different organizations, but the man is not savior of his wife as Christ is of the church. That is something that is applied only to Christ, because both man and woman need a Savior, not just woman. Look at verse 24. "But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be [subject] to their [own] husbands in everything."
Being a helper is not a weak thing. It is not a Gilligan to a Skipper. Women, you will give, in your response to who they are, all the input in the world as he confidently listens to you, but will you let him be what God intended him to be? The head of the house. The responsibility of the wife is to let the husband be who God said he should be. The role of the wife it to help him be a success in that.
Now it leaves that, and it focuses on something completely different. What we love to harp on about the woman is there in three short verses, and now it gets to us, men. Look what it says in verse 25. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…"
You know, so many times I get husbands who say, "I can't love my wife. Don't you know how difficult it is for me to love her? Don't you know how little this woman provides me? Don't you know how unattractive she is to me?" It says here that the husband is to love the wife, and it lists four things.
The husband's responsibility to his wife is to love her in four ways. The first one is sacrificially. You are to love your wife even when it doesn't feel good. Not based on what she can do for you, not based on what you will get for how she acts, but sacrificially. Not that she deserves it. It says to love your wife as Christ loved the church.
The church, as you know, was called out from the world. It says in Romans 5, verse 8…what? "But God demonstrates His own love…" Same word used here. "…toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Do you understand this? I don't care how unlovable your wife is. Now listen to me. I don't care how unlovable your wife is. She is not so much more dislike you, so unattractive to you, than a sinner is to a holy God, and he somehow saw it in his being to love them.
He says, "If I indwell you…" Remember this. This is all premised with: "…be filled with my Spirit. As you are filled with my Spirit and you bear the fruits of my Spirit and you love the way I love, you will love your wife the way I have loved the world." It says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world…" How attractive was the world to Jesus Christ? Not at all.
It is not a doable excuse for you to come in my office, to go into some attorney's office, and say, "I'm out of here. I'm gone. I cannot love this woman." Correction. You are saying, "I choose to not love this woman." That is how, by the way, the Bible defines love. Again, I'll say it. Love, in the Scriptures, is not an adjective describing how you feel. It is a verb describing how you will act.
I have a good friend who, when he proposed to his wife in a restaurant in a corner, got down on his knee, and he said, "May I serve you the rest of my life?" That's how he proposed to his wife. Not, "Can I marry you?" but "Can I serve you the rest of my life?" That brother understood love. He said, "When it doesn't feel good to me, when it doesn't make sense to me to continue to give to you and to love you, I choose, in fear of Christ, to love you as he loved the world."
The first way a husband should respond to his wife, the first way the husband should fulfill his role as head, is to give himself as the head of the church did, sacrificially, for the woman. So many guys, when you ask them this, when you say, "Hey, let me ask you a question. Would you die for your wife?" "Oh, yeah. Sure, man. I'd die for my wife." Just like so many of us would say, "Yeah, I'd die for Christ."
What is so much harder than dying for Christ is living for him in the little decisions every day. When I say, "…it is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me…" that means I won't do what my flesh seems to think is right. I won't do what I feel is right. I won't strike out in anger like I want to. I'll do what Christ wants me to. In our marriage relationship, I will subject myself to him.
Let me throw this out and kind of backtrack for a minute. When it says, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord…" you know what, men? How many times have you modeled for your wife what true subjection looks like? If your wife were going to look at you and say, "You know what? I'll subject myself…" How do you subject yourself to your spouse, Jesus Christ? How do you respond to his role as head in your life?
You know what, men? I throw this out to guys all the time. You have a difficult job. You are to fulfill a role that Christ fills. In that picture, in that analogy, Christ's love for the church is to be your love for your wife. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. Let me tell you an even more difficult piece of the pie to fill, and that is the role of the wife.
In the relationship you have with Christ, you are to subject yourself to his authority. Let me ask you this. Does Christ ever do anything in his own self-interest? No. In fact, in Philippians it tells us we're to have the attitude of Christ, which is to humble himself to die for those who, really, are unlovable. Does he ever do anything that hurts you? No. It says he always, always cares for you.
He'll never leave you or forsake you. He never sleeps. He never tires. His understanding is inscrutable. And yet, are you perfect in your subjection to him? No. You compete for authority with him all the time. Can you imagine what it would be like to try and serve a God who was moody? Who sometimes sought his own best interest? Who sometimes, just because he felt like it, whacked you on the head emotionally? Not an easy task. That's the response of the woman.
One of the things you can do if you want to help your wives is model what it looks like to subject yourself to one who loves you, and then, men, to love them in a way that makes that response easier. We know how difficult it is to respond to perfect love. Have a little grace and mercy and imagine what it's like to try and respond to imperfect love.
Sacrificial love. Like I said, so many guys think they can do the big one, "I can die for my wife," but how many of you guys will forgo your opinion for the sake of your wife? How many of you guys will forgo a desire? How many of y'all will let go something you prefer for the sake of your wife? How many of you will see your own welfare go by the wayside for the sake of your wife? That's what the husband is called to do.
Gloria Steinem said that marriage is the great concentration camp of life, because she can't imagine any kind of man who would ever do anything except what's good for him. I'm convinced if she were around a man who lived to love her and to serve her sacrificially, she wouldn't see it as a concentration camp. She would see that as a protection for her and as a freedom given to her so that she could shine like never before, where she wouldn't have to be both man and woman, but she could just use her gifts.
I think Gloria Steinem is a tremendously talented person, but I don't think she's ever been underneath somebody who can let her blossom and channel her energies in a way, as her spirit is regenerated by Christ one day we pray, to have her be all God intended her to be. She's too busy doing other things.
Here's the next one. First, to live and love sacrificially. Look here in verse 26. It says, "That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…" The second kind of love we should have is sanctifying love. You have sacrificial love, but you also have sanctifying love.
It says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love "…does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth." I'll ask you this, men. Are you doing things that would help her virtue, that would help her grow in her holiness, that would help her grow in her purity? In fact, are you doing things in the way you treat her, the way you flirt with other women, or flirt with other affections, that you create in her a jealousy, that you create in her an insecurity? Things which are not of Christ?
No. True love sanctifies that person. It makes that person more attractive. In fact, one of the things that makes something valuable is what you would give to protect it, or what you would give to redeem it. What would you do, and how do you treat your wife? I think about the way, when you go and first get a car, you treat that car. You wax it. You wash it. You watch for every nick that's on there. You just love that car but, eventually, it kind of wears on you. You stop sanctifying it, to see that it's always clean.
You don't believe me? Just look at your car when you go out in the parking lot. It kind of wears down. What will be the thing that will happen when you someday sell that car? Somebody is going to take that thing, and they're going to wax it. They're going to vacuum it. They're going to Armor All it. You're going to go back in that lot. You're going to look at that car, and you're going to go, "That was mine? That thing right there? It doesn't look anything like the car I drove the last five years." "Well, guess why? Because you didn't treat it like I've been treating the last five days."
I have so many guys who say, "How can I love that woman? Look at the scowl on her face. Look at the bitterness. Listen to the tone of her voice." I ask them, "You know what? Did you marry that girl with that tone, with that scowl, with that bitterness, with that closed spirit? No. Guess who let it develop that?"
That George Strait song has it figured out. "He must have stolen stars from the sky, and gave them to you, to wear in your eyes." Earlier in the song, way back when, he says, "Oh, how you sparkle, and oh how you shine. The flush on your cheeks is more than the wine. And he must do something that I didn't do. Whatever he's doing, it looks good on you. You look so good in love."
Do you know what it says is one of the things about the way the husband treats the wife? She ought to look good to you because of the way you treat her. I'll tell you this, men. A woman will be loved. If she doesn't get loved by you, she's going to get loved by somebody, and she's going to look good when she's in love. One of the things that will make her attractive to you is to treat her well.
We've asked our elders to write letters to folks who take our marriage Equipping class explaining what will make them have a successful marriage. One of the ones I love the most is a guy who simply said this. He was approached one day, and they said to him, "How do you get your wife to treat you the way she treats you? She treats you like a king." His response was simple. He says, "You want your wife to treat you like a king? Then do what I have done for the last 50 years, and that is to treat her like a queen. She thinks I'm a king because she's married to one, because I treat her like a queen."
When you treat a woman that way, men, when you sacrificially love her, and then when you seek her best interests, when you seek her purification, when you love her that way, she'll become more lovable to you. She looks so good in love, but so few men do it. They take their role as head, and they dominate or they desert the first time it looks ugly and go buy a new car. He says, "Nope. You stay right there, and you sanctify."
By the way, just to throw this out right there where he says in verse 26, "…that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." That is so encouraging again, what Christ does in our lives. He rids us of sin, and he substitutes righteousness, ultimately, with his own Spirit in us.
As we know, synonyms for being filled with the Spirit are two things. One, to "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…" Another one is that you "…may be filled with the knowledge of His will…" What you have in his Word. As you are "…transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect," Christ is sanctifying you. He's doing it for himself.
Do you catch that again? His love for us is a sanctifying love. As he gives us his Word, which is truth, he's allowing us to look more like him, which is more lovable in his sight. He is committed to it, dying for us, whether we ever look that way or not. What's going on right here is another reference to how God sanctifies us. It is through the instrument of his Word, which is the idea that bathes us in truth and cleans us from our former way of thinking, which is selfishly, which is to promote ourselves and not to serve others.
He says, "No. What you need to do is put in your mind "…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." That sanctifies us, and one day he will make us holy and blameless. Not our job. It's the job of our bridegroom who loves us in that way, who will conform us to his image.
Look at the next one. Verse 28. Here's the third love. We have sacrificial. We have sanctifying. We also have self-like love. "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body." A significant part, as I said.
Christ isn't going to do anything to hurt us because we are his expression here on this earth. He is so intimately acquainted with our ways and so desperately involved with us that he wants to do nothing that would hurt us. In fact, it pains him when the world does things that hurt us. Even as it should pain us, men, and we should protect our wives from being hurt by a world that is insensitive toward them and tells them they're not valuable unless they look right.
If we treat them that way, we are not loving them as we love ourselves. We're loving them as the world loves them. The world is of Satan, and Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is there to deceive them and to destroy their self-image. He is there to deceive them and destroy their self-worth. He is there to deceive them and destroy the fact that they are valuable before Christ.
When we stop loving our wives the way we love ourselves, we are contributing to that. As Christ loves us…never doing anything that wouldn't be best for us because the head loves to see the body, not anemic, but become all that it should be, because it glorifies the head…so should you love your wife.
By the way, that's not a little similitude like "like you do yourself." The idea there is you should love your wife because she is with you. It has a reference to the mystical thing that happens where you leave, cleave, and become one flesh. I'll tell you that this is so true in my life. There are times when I just desperately want to strike out in anger at Alex or use a tone that's inappropriate.
I sometimes lose sight of the fact that when I hurt her because it feels good to me for a moment, it's like I'm reaching down and frogging my leg as hard as I can. It's foolish. I'm the one who suffers from that pain. Every time I hurt my wife because it feels good for a moment… And sometimes doesn't it feel good to lash out and act the way it feels like you should act?
Every time I do that, I mean without exception, it always comes back to get me. It creates disharmony in my home. It creates disharmony in my heart. It creates disharmony with my God. First Peter 3:7 says, "Husbands, be careful how you treat your wives…" Loosely paraphrasing it. "…because if you don't love them the way you should, it will hinder your prayers."
Women, God has it rigged. What he simply says is, "If you don't treat your wife right, then I ain't going to treat you right. You want to know what it's like to have a moody God? Check this out. You want to know what it's like to have somebody who is in control over you who won't listen to you and be sensitive to your needs? Feel this, men."
I will tell you, there are times when I've left my home, and I've come up here to work. I've had to call my wife up, ask her forgiveness, and apologize to her. I can't read. I can't study. I can't pray. I can't counsel, because I stormed out of the house as one who deserted or one who dominated while I was there and took advantage selfishly. A man's love should be sacrificial, it should be sanctifying, and it should be self-love, like you love yourself. You don't hurt yourself.
Here's the last one. It says, "FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER…" Paul is making an analogy. The way the man loves the wife is the way Christ loves the church. It's a supernatural love. "…AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."
Just wrapping this thing up, I'll tell you this. In supernatural love… This is instruction which is good for all people. Everybody can benefit from this, but the fact is, unless you have what Paul started this whole thing with, in Ephesians 5:18, "…be filled with the Spirit…" you cannot do it.
It is a supernatural thing which will enable you, men, to love sacrificially, to love sanctifyingly, and to love like you love yourself, because that's not who you are. You are a self-loving individual, and until God regenerates your heart and makes you others-centered, you'll never be able to do it. You have to let the love of Christ dwell in you, as the fruit of your life, and love your wife that way.
I heard a guy say one time it's like when you take pieces of some hair, and you wind three strands together. When you look at it, it looks like two strands woven back and forth, but we know there are three strands there. If you see a man and a woman operating in harmony like this, in earthly perfect harmony, you can know it is because there are three strands there. It isn't just the husband's love for his wife. It's not just the wife's love for her husband. There is a supernatural love which is flowing in them, that third strand, Jesus Christ, which winds them together. The world will be attracted to it.
I grabbed a LIFE magazine here that is on the stands right now, and it caught my attention. On the cover it says, "One Body, Two Souls." Sound familiar? "…and the two shall become one…" It's a story about two individuals. This is what it says. These twins are, in fact, conjoined twins, two little girls who are connected.
It says, "Each of the Hensel twins has her own heart and stomach, but together they rely on three lungs. Their spines join at the pelvis, and below the waist they have the organs of a single person. Each controls the limbs and trunk, and feels sensations, on her side exclusively; if you tickle the ribs on the right, only Abby giggles. Yet the girls manage—no one knows exactly how—to move as one being."
It goes on to say that these two have different temperaments. Sound familiar? One has a voracious appetite. One finds food boring. One tends to be the leader. The other tends to follow. One is more reflective and academically quicker. "Sometimes they argue. Once, Brittany hit Abby in the head with a rock. But they have obvious incentives to arrive at a consensus," it says. "When they can't agree on where to go—a rare occurrence—they literally cannot move. When one misbehaves, both are sent to their room." It says, "No conjoined twins have been successfully separated after early childhood."
The director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Children's Center said "…that neither Hensel girl would come away from surgery [to separate them] with sufficient body mass to support prosthetics." Did you catch that? Neither one of them could have a quality of life. If you take that which is two, and somehow they become one, and if you take that one and make them two again, you probably have death for both of them. If not death for both of them, death for one and severe limitation for the other.
Gang, that word cleave, which appears in Ephesians, chapter 5, which is translated out of Genesis 2:24, where it says, "…a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife…" is literally the word for glue. You take two paper plates, you glue them together, and you try and rip them apart. What do you have? You probably have both pieces of paper damaged and probably beyond the point where either one can be used.
You have these two souls who have become one body. It says they don't think they can separate them. If they don't both die, one will, and the other one is going to be severely limited. I end with this little saying here. These two are "…bound to each other but defiantly independent, these six-year-old girls are a living textbook on camaraderie and compromise, on dignity and flexibility…" Together, they have volumes to teach us about love.
I want to tell you what. If LIFE magazine were writing a story on the perfect Christian marriage, they wouldn't write it any differently. They'd say, "What you have right here is an earthly perfect harmony. They are furiously independent. They are two different temperaments, but they serve one another. They have an obviously vested interest in not destroying the other person."
It's so interesting because the twins have different likes and dislikes. It says the one has a complete distaste for milk; the other one doesn't like orange juice, but because the one likes orange juice, that vitamin C goes through to the other's body and because the other likes milk, that calcium goes through to the other's body. They work together, completing and complementing each other. To take them apart would kill them, because God didn't intend for them to be apart, in his sovereignty.
The world is going to scoff at you if you decide to have a Christian marriage. They're going to look at you, and they're going to say, "Woman, why in the world do you love that man? Why do you let him be head? Why are you letting him, at different times as you guys can't agree, be the one who leads the relationship? Why do you seek to please him the way you do?"
The response of the wife in a Christian marriage should be simply, "If you knew how much this man loved me; if you knew how he gave himself for me day and night; if you saw him die to his desires, his own interests, his own feelings at times, his own welfare for the sake of me; if you knew how much he cared for me, how he waxes my soul, how he pours out his love for me; if you knew that he was so sensitive, the way he treated me, even like I was a part of him, you would know the joy I have in my heart in serving him."
She should say, "And by the way, this is a very small picture of why I do what I do as a Christian. Please don't think the reason I go to church on Sundays, please don't think the reason I choose not to participate in certain activities, is because if I do those things God will reject me. You need to know that I don't choose to serve my God because if I don't, then he'll abandon me.
What you're seeing me do in response to my husband is exactly what you're seeing me do in a much clearer way with my relationship with Christ. I don't have to do these things for Christ to love me, but if you knew how much Christ loved me, how he died for me, how he's sanctifying me, how he seeks to see me glorified as an expression of who he is, and as he supernaturally loves me, you'd know it's the joy of my life to give myself to him."
Men, when guys make fun of you and say, "Who's wearing the pants in your family? How come you decide to let that woman, of all things, determine whether or not you're going to play golf with us this weekend? How come you are going to let that woman decide if you should go out with the buddies? How come you're going to change all through your life for that woman, that ball and chain?"
The response should be, "You know what? If you knew what joy I get from loving this woman, how she is an expression of who I am, how she completes me, how she adds to my life; if you knew the joy that I got from pouring myself into her, you would do exactly as I do.
By the way, what you're seeing in the way I love my wife is a very small and imperfect picture of how God, even though he doesn't need me, loves me. How God is not somebody who wants to mess with somebody who is maybe not attractive to him all the time (in fact, in my case, none of the time), but who looks at me and decides to love me anyway. What you're seeing in the way I love my wife, when you don't think I should, is the way you ought to be amazed that my God loves me. And I can tell you, he shouldn't."
It's a small picture. It's a mystery, Paul says. In doing it, with the Spirit of Christ in us, whether it's roles and responsibilities and an appropriate response to them, you have an earthly perfect harmony that glorifies God, that is a mirror of who he is, that allows us to multiply a godly heritage, to manage the world the way we should, to mutually complete one another, and to model Christ's love for the church. Let's pray.
Father, I thank you for a chance to look at your Word and to see again how an earthly perfect harmony is not going to be through legal agreements. It's not going to be through rules that are abusive to one and exalt another. It's not going to be through dominating for our own well-being. It's not going to be through competing. It's not going to be through just having a relationship of mutual tolerance.
It's going to be modeling your love for us. It's going to be in taking our positions as men, who are given a responsibility to lead the family, and to take that as a chance to serve, to be servant leaders, to seek to understand our wives, and to forgo our own tastes, our own desires, our own opinions, own welfare, our own preferences, for their sakes. It is to love them as an expression of us. It is to seek always, in every way, Father, to have them developed to be all you intended for them to be.
I pray, God, that you would help men in this room to build into their wives' lives, to cherish them and to nourish them, to let them know, to wax eloquently over them, to build into their lives in such a way that they would shine and become that much more attractive to us, that we would have the sense to treat them like a queen. Father, even if women are not acting like queens, and even if they do hurt us, I pray we would love them sacrificially, that we would be an expression of your love for the world that was not very attractive.
God, thank you, though, for the gift of a godly wife. We do, indeed, see how she is a gift from you, who makes our job of loving them so much easier. In the midst of it, we know that, ultimately, our love will only be sustained if it is your love, unconditional, not based on what that person looks like or what they can do for us but based on what you've called us to do and what you've modeled for us yourself.
I pray that we as a church, both in the marriages that exist and in the relationships that will form, would be a cry to the world. That they would go, "How can you have two people so different who work so well together and cooperate in such a way that it becomes two persons, and yet one in essence? Two souls, and yet they are one body?"
May we tell them about the mystery, Father. Not of how two eggs were coming together in a womb and came out as conjoined twins, but may we tell them about God's gift of marriage, which is not a ball and chain and which is not a concentration camp. It is perfect harmony which glorifies you. In Christ's name, amen.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 5 and 6.