These verses raise a very high standard for relationship between husbands and wives and the church toward Christ. If the husband makes Christ’s love for the church the pattern for loving his wife, then he will love her sacrificially. Christ gave Himself for the church; so the husband, in love, gives himself for his wife.
The husband’s love will also be a sanctifying love. The word sanctify means “to set apart.” In the marriage ceremony, the husband is set apart to belong to the wife, and the wife is set apart to belong to the husband. Any interference with this God-given arrangement is sin.
Our Christian homes are to be pictures of Christ’s relationship to His church. Each believer is a member of Christ’s body, and each believer is to help nourish the body in love We are one with Christ. The church is His body and His bride, and the Christian home is a divinely ordained illustration of this relationship. This certainly makes marriage a serious matter. The root of most marital problems is sin, and the root of all sin is selfishness.
Submission to Christ and to one another is the only way to overcome selfishness, for when we submit, the Holy Spirit can fill us and enable us to love one another in a sacrificial, sanctifying, satisfying way—the way Christ loves the church.
A Glorious Church — The church has a history with God in it: it is the church of the living God; it is the church for which the ages waited and God prepared; it is the church of God’s redeemed and of martyrs. Jesus built a church to withstand the ravages of time, the persecutions of men, and the destructive power of the devil.
It is the most sacred thing in the world: it is the body of Christ, the light of the world; it is commissioned to proclaim the truth; it is dependent for its success upon Christ as its head, the Holy Spirit as its guide, and the willing ministry of redeemed men and women.
An All-Inclusive Message — The message of the church is inclusive: it is a message of salvation for all souls, of enlightenment for all minds, of comfort for all hearts, of relief for all needs, and of challenge for every life. It has a message from God and stands for a Redeemer with a message of liberty and a dispensation of grace. It is the guardian of human rights, the hope of humanity and of peace. It has not come without a high price. The cost of the church has been faithfulness and loyalty under persecution. The price has been paid in blood, from that of Christ and the first century Christians to hundreds martyred since.
We have a sacred obligation. The church is God’s tool for proclaiming Christ’s ideals and principles for life. It is founded on sacrifice and maintained by sacrifice. It appeals to the highest instincts of the human heart.
THE MEASURE OF LOYALTY — If our supreme loyalty is to Christ, then self and others will find their rightful place. Christ demands and deserves first place in our life. Read Matthew 10:32-42.
A tragedy of Christianity today is that, unlike the people in Jesus’ day, the shepherd-less masses look elsewhere for a savior. The real peril is from within: “The compelling need of our churches is neither larger numbers, more money, nor different programs, but a fuller consecration of the lives of individual church members to Jesus Christ. Carelessness, prayerlessness, indifference, lowering of ideals, and open inconsistency of professed Christians within the church constitutes a greater menace to the cause of our Lord than indifference, opposition, infidelity, atheism, or other issues without the church. “The neglect of the devotional life brings flabbiness, indifference and unhappiness. Church discipline seems to have been largely discarded. The standard of Christ is the demand of the times.”
THE MEANS OF EXPRESSING LOYALTY — If a husband and wife belong to each, or as children belong to parents, the church will have a real claim upon my personality, my powers, and my possessions. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we put our children’s sports, homework, or recreation activities ahead of our worship and Bible classes! We ought to be ashamed of ourselves when we work all week no matter how we feel and use a headache or the “fear of getting sick” as an excuse to miss worship!
Loyalty to the church would cause us to pray for each other; would lead us to want to meet together and make the necessary plans ahead of time to be ready to worship when we get here; would cause us to take positive stands against those things which would interfere with our worship and work. Jesus demands from each of us a high standard of moral and ethical conduct.
He demands personal purity…” Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We might not see ourselves as flattering pictures of Christ, but in the things we say and do, we remind people that Christ dwells upon earth. “Christianity is more than a vision…it is a life, a power, a mission for God. It is going somewhere; it is accomplishing something; it is increasing the forces of righteousness; it is translating routine into duty; it is making drudgery divine; it is finding out God and cooperating with Him in everyday life.”