As many of you know, this weekend, by God's grace, I will be getting married to the love of my life, Abby Leigh Hulsey. In preparing for our upcoming marriage we have received pre-marital counseling from Dave Stephenson, the pastor of my congregation, Grace Bible Church
I have also been meditating on Ephesians 5:25-33a, the passage that I have mentioned before as demonstrating that human marriage is an example meant to magnify God in Christ as the merciful savior of His Church.
This passage reads as follows:
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. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of His body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, (NIV 1984)
The love described in this passage is:
: Christ gave Himself
up for the Church. The primary way that I can magnify the sacrificial work of Christ as crucified on behalf of the Church in my role as a husband- how, specifically as a husband
I can give witness to the power of the Gospel- is to take up my own cross daily and sacrifice of myself for Abby, placing her eternal needs above my own temporal needs and desires.
: as Christ washes His Church by His Word in order to bring the Church to a state of constantly pleasing God in every detail, I must be a minister of God's Word to Abby. As I desire to teach others, I must magnify the work of Christ by first lovingly teaching my wife in the ways of Christ.
: As Christ cares for the needs of His body, the Church, and grows in communion with the Church, I must magnify His work by caring for Abby, providing for her physical needs and lovingly joining in blessed communion with her in every sense of the word.
As has been demonstrated, focusing on Christ when considering the husband's role in marriage makes each decision a Gospel decision, infusing every aspect of married life with eternal significance to the glory of God alone.
So I ask, is this how you make YOUR decisions, dear reader, or are you just going through life doing whatever seems best for the here and now, trying to avoid the thought of what death means for yourself and your loved ones? I urge you all to turn away from your own selfish ideas of how to do things and instead to focus on Christ who is the only way to peace with God and eternal life in Him.
[I am indebted to Cliff Knight, student pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church
, the congregation that Abby attends in Auburn, for the above outline.]