When God called my husband and I found Life With Christ Ministries and He told us that one of the parts of the ministry would be about marriage. I remember I asked God the following question, “Father, Chris and I both failed in our past marriages. How is it that we could be qualified to do that?” The answer came right afterwards with Him saying, “Both of you experienced a marriage in which Christ was not the center, and now you are experiencing marriage with Christ as the center. Because you both understand this difference is exactly why you are qualified.”
One of the foundational scriptures about marriage that I believe we need to review with sincerity is found in Ephesians and says:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
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 their own body, but they feed and care for their body, 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, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33, NIV)
If the love between a husband and wife should be like Christ and His church, then how can we understand the proper way to love if we do not invite Jesus to be at the center of it? I failed and I learned from it. I found out there is no other way to build a true marriage except by learning from Christ. What have I learned? It is my honor to share it with you:
1. God defines what marriage is and He is the one to give it purpose
Before I became a Christian I had a simple view of what marriage was. I believed it was just a man and a woman who legally were bound together. Because of the legal agreement, they could build a home and a family, and have children as legal parents. I also know that many people have hoped that marriage can give them joy and a future. I know that some might even desire to take a chance and fail rather than to never have tried. Some might even get married to anyone who is willing to marry them in order to escape from the pressure of being single. Sadly, most of the marriages that happen, or have happened, in this world are the result these same wrong concepts. And, the one I was in before I knew Christ was one of them.
If the above scenarios were really the purpose of marriage, what could we expect of the end result? What beauty could come of such a thing? What about love? What part does love play in marriage? Should a marriage happen simply because a man and a woman fall in love and desire to be together? Is that enough for a man and women to make a commitment to take care of each other for the rest of their lives? If we refer back to Ephesians 5:22-33 it should be clear to see that “Love” surely is the key reason. But, we must also consider carefully that the definition of “Love” in this passage is not based on the relationship with a husband and a wife, it is based on the relationship between Christ and His church. How can we expect to have a marriage based on true love if we do not allow God to be at the center of it!
God ordained the institution of marriage. He created marriage and He defines it. God displays His love, that is, through Jesus the husband and the church the wife. Marriage, the relationship between a husband and a wife, reflects God’s love and His gospel to all mankind.
2. Jesus is the husband and the church is the wife
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV)
God does not choose His bride because she is lovely and blameless, but because He is loving. This is a massive difference from the way of the world and the flesh approach marriage. We may not be able to be like Christ and fall in love with the one who does not love us back. But we must know that if we place Christ at the center of our marriage we need to begin to love each other just as Christ loves us.
If we choose to love, we can’t choose not to follow Christ and love like Him. Just as Christ seeks to love us and desires to be close to us, so should we seek to love our spouse and desire to be close to them
Christ’s love is a commitment.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans, 8:38-39, NIV)
Marriage involves a husband and wife living their lives together. The husband and wife should see each other as their life-partner. Life always involves challenging circumstances, struggles, and temptations as well. Because of these things life may not always be ideal and easy to deal with. But remember, God does not choose to love His bride because she is lovely, but because He is loving. We need to be prepared to make the same decision in our marriage. Even though we face challenge, we should not just quit and give up.
Christ’s love is about relationship
‘And said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ (Matthew 19:5-6, NIV)
A husband is united to his wife, the two become one, and no one should separate them. If nothing can separate us from the love of God then it should be same in the marriage relationship.
Christ’s love is giving and sacrifice
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV) The life I now live is with Christ, and Christ, who love me and gave Himself up for me, lives in me. So if Christ lives in us and He gave Himself for us, why should our comment to love our husband or wife be any different! Should we still consider the sacrifice and responsibility? Should we be worried that we will be giving up our independence? Or should we give with a cheerful heart and with unconditional love?
3. Christ’s is the Foundation of Marriage
“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25, NIV)
In our modern society it is the expectation that a successful marriage should start and be based on an extravagant wedding banquet, a beautiful bridal dress, a memorable honeymoon, a new house, and savings plan to prepare for the expansion of the family. Is it wrong to want these things? I think it could be summed up like this, “What we want to have doesn’t equally what we need to have.”
Try to imagine a house that is build brick by brick by the best workers and with the best materials. Imagine the inside of the house being decorated to perfection. Now think about what would happen if this perfect house was built on top of the peat, which is a very poor subsoil and not ideal for supporting any weight. When the rain begins to come down, when the streams begin to rise, and when the winds begin to blow and beat against the house; it will surely fall regardless of how strong and beautiful it may be. The wise King Solomon, told us, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Psalm 127:1, NIV)
What does it mean when it says that the Lord builds the house? Paul told us, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16, NIV) David wrote, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” (Psalm 33:6, NIV) All things have been created and established through the Word, our Lord Jesus. If we choose to build our house, our marriage, on the Solid Rock, we need to build it on His word. Invite Jesus be the head of your marriage and live out His word in your family. We must not only do this one time but every day continue to grow in our relationship with Him and with each other.
Let us consider one other passage from the Bible found in Colossians, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:18-19, NIV) If Jesus is the husband and the church is the wife, and the church is to submit to Jesus as the head, then the wife should also submit herself to her husband just as the church submits to Christ. Likewise, in the same way that Jesus loves His church, the husband should love his wife. This is the basis and the true design of marriage, to reflect the love that Jesus has for us.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24, NIV)
No matter is you are planning to get married or if you are already in a new marriage, pray and know that God will be there to lead you if you call upon Him. Remember He has a special purpose for your marriage so seek Him and seek His path! May the love of God be rooted in your marriage and may it grow! In Jesus name I pray, amen.