We Love Because He First Loved Us (final draft)

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2008-06-08am Ephesians 5.22-33 We Love Because He First Loved Us (final draft)

            What would happen if soldiers entered a battle without a commander?  What would happen to a nation if the leader died and no one took his place?  Chaos would result.  The soldiers would simply do what they thought was best.  They might run and hide, they might shoot each other by accident.  They might go after the wrong target.  A commander gives leadership and direction.  Likewise, a good prime minister or president gives leadership and direction for the entire nation.  Otherwise, there would be chaos as most people would look out for their own interests.

          The same, God’s Word says, is true in the home.  Without a head of the household, there is chaos.  The buck has to stop somewhere.  Ultimately, of course, the buck stops with God.  He created the entire universe, for we read, “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” in Psalm 24.1. 

          God demonstrates that he takes responsibility for His creation, for after he judged sinful humanity through the flood, he promised that there would never be another flood like THE flood, and God also promised that season would follow season.  And to this day, that continues to happen.

          But the buck stops with God.  God knows it.  That’s why He sent His only Son as Saviour.  Knowing that we could never be reconciled to Him otherwise, God sent His one and only son in order to save us from our sins.  And Christ is the head of the body, the church.

          So, for all the stuff that happens to people, to Christians in particular, the buck stops with Christ.  Christ is the head of the Church, Christ is the head of the husband, and the husband is the head of the wife and the children.

          But make no mistake, husbands, like wives, are subject to Christ.  Husbands have to submit to Christ.

          Furthermore, headship contains more than mere ruler ship.  Last week we observed the Biblical explanation of a wife’s submission to her husband, that is, as to the Lord.  In the same way, we must also observe a Biblical explanation of a husband’s headship over his wife.

          Don’t get caught up on the term headship.  It’s Biblical.  If you’re familiar with Romans 12:1, and if you’ve ever prayed it, if your desire is to have your mind renewed, and you yourself transformed in the process, then you have to understand the Biblical concept of headship.

          Headship is not a human invention, it is God’s invention.  God created humanity, he knows us, and he knows what we need for happy, healthy relationships.  If you’ve encountered bad headship, or if you’ve witnessed abuse and the abuser has tried to use headship as an excuse for abuse, then you need to delete that out of your mind.  That’s not what headship is all about.  Look at the context of our passage.  Headship is defined for us.

          The explanation of headship is given in verse 23.  A husband is head in the same way as Christ is head of the church, he himself being the saviour of the body.  In this way, a husband has authority, but authority which is used in a specific manner.

          Now, when we hear a word like authority, red flags might go up, we might be inclined to think of bad examples of authority, such as domineering authority, dictatorial authority.  But there are good examples of authority, benevolent authority, democratic authority, Christ’s authority.

          As head of his wife, as one who has authority, the husband acts in a specific way and means.  A true, godly husband is someone who is passionate about his wife’s well-being.  He loves her.  He protects her.  He follows Christ’s pattern, who, as head of the church, is its Saviour.

          A wife ought to see in her husband, whom God has appointed as her head, someone who is so closely united to her, so deeply concerned with her well-being, that he is consumed with her joy, her happiness that he mirrors, he lives out the same sacrificial interest Christ has for His church, having purchased her with his blood.

          Husbands, husbands to be, do you want to be good husbands?  Do you want to be incredible husbands?  Wives, wives to be, do you want amazing husbands?  Well then, don’t look for examples on television, soap operas, books or magazines.  Don’t get your information from your friends at the bar.  Come to the place where the best example is given.  Read your Bible and listen to this sermon.

          The pattern for a Godly husband is God himself!  God is husband to His wife, the church!  The book of Hosea is the blatant example of God as husband to Israel his bride.  Even though Hosea’s wife was unfaithful, Hosea was faithful.  Even though Israel was unfaithful, God is faithful.  Even though we’re unfaithful in our relationship with God, God will always be faithful.

          The love a husband has for his wife comes from deep within his being.  It involves everything about him, it requires all his intelligence, all his purpose, all his personality, not merely his emotion, but also his mind and his will.  The husband’s love is characterised by spontaneity and self-sacrifice.

          For, a husband’s love should reflect and should withstand comparison to Christ’s love for the church, for Christ loved the church so much that he gave himself up for her.  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  That’s what Christ did for us.  That’s what a husband does for his wife!

          There is such a powerful message here!  The husband dies for his wife.  No, that doesn’t mean that husbands have to get nailed to the cross and die in order to “I love you.”  Rather, it means that husbands die to themselves, to their selfishness their own personal desires.  They die to them in such a way that the desires of their wife take greater precedent. 

          This is an act of the will.  Jesus didn’t just say, “I love you church!”  He demonstrated it with an act of his will.  He demonstrated it by dying for her. 

          Maybe you’ve seen good husbands in your life.  Maybe your father is, was a good husband, a godly husband.  I know my Dad is.  If I’m a good husband at all, first of all it is because of Jesus Christ, second of all it is because of my Dad.  I have to brag about one thing that stands out in my mind about my Dad.  There are way too many to mention, but one thing I’ll mention this morning. 

          I can’t remember whom he said it to, but my Dad said, “I could go to the bar like so many other guys from IBM.  But you know what?  After a long day at work, I can’t wait to get home and kiss my wife.  I don’t understand why those guys go to the bar first.”

          That has had such a powerful impact on my marriage and me.  I can only hope I’ll be as good a husband as my Dad is.

          That is but one example of how husbands can decide to love their wives, demonstrate their love, their sacrificial love for their wives.  Demonstrate your love for your wife by giving priority to her, after the Lord.

          Now, perhaps some of you guys are wondering, so what’s the return on this investment?  Well, we saw it last week, such an investment, will result in love and submission from your wife.

          With this attitude toward his wife, the husband receives love and submission from his wife.  For, the wife responds to the Godly loving husband with full submission, as to the Lord.  For as the church is so amazed by Christ’s sacrificial love, she desires to live for Him, so the wife will desire to live for her husband, as to the Lord.  An anonymous wife said, “My husband loves me so thoroughly and is so good to me that I jump at the opportunity to obey him.”

          Again, Paul says that the husband and wife relationship is but a reflection of the relationship Christians have with Christ.  Jesus is so good to us, Jesus loves us so thoroughly, that we jump at the opportunity to obey him.  And we don’t have to go to China in order to obey Christ, we obey him by being Godly husbands and wives, Godly parents and children, Godly employers and employees, we obey him as a church!

          Because we are Christ’s body, Christ himself cares for us.  Christ nourishes us.  We were fed by Him this morning!  We remember his death and resurrection.  In so doing, we remember His love for us!   He sacrificed himself for us, even though we were unfaithful, really, unable to be faithful to Him.  But he died so that we could be one with Him, so that we could be united with him so as to be His body.  And as we go through life, whatever comes our way, we can do what it says in 1st Peter 5.7.  “Cast all your cares/anxiety upon Him, for he cares for you.” 

          Husbands behave like Christ.  They reflect Christ’s attitude when they are willing to put themselves at risk in order to protect their wives.  They are willing to risk rejection, even unfaithfulness, knowing that as with Hosea, faithfulness can produce faithfulness in others.

          Husbands care for their wives with as much care, if not more care than they put on themselves.  They realise that in marriage, the man leaves his parents, the woman leaves her parents, and the two become one.

          Now, did you catch that?  Paul is quoting Genesis 2:24.  The man and wife become one flesh.  Certainly, in the act of lovemaking, the two become so intimate that they become as one, but in the act of marriage, the care that a person has for himself or herself extends to the other person.  Their needs and desires become the other persons needs and desires.  Or, they seek to fulfil what the other needs or desires.  This is the way God designed it, and it is perfect.

          In fact, the union between husband and wife is the strongest human relationship, stronger than parent and child.  In order for a proper union between husband and wife, the husband has to leave his parents, and become independent of them, the wife has to leave her parents and become independent of them.

          This is fundamentally important.  For, if the husband remains too connected to his parents, he cannot properly connect to his wife.  If the wife remains too connected to her parents, she cannot properly connect to her husband.  They have to leave and cleave together.

          In this way, a husband and a wife is a reflection of the Christian union with Christ.  Christians, united to Christ, have to leave behind their prior commitments.  They have turned away from the things they once held dear, and cleaved themselves to Christ.  This too is an act of the will, just as surely as Christ’s sacrifice required an act of the will, just as surely as the husband’s sacrifice requires an act of the will, so a Christian’s sacrifice requires an act of the will.  We will ourselves to follow Christ, to honour Christ, to accept Christ as our Lord and to submit to him.

          How do we know if a husband is good or not?  How do we know if you are a good husband?

          A good husband knows Jesus, lives for Jesus, and is willing to die for his wife like Jesus.  That’s what Ephesians 5 says.

          If the husband is abusive, if he is neglectful, then we know that he’s not a Godly husband.  If he’s doing those things, then we know that he hasn’t really understood Christ, or if has, he hasn’t understood how he’s supposed to be like Christ in his relationship with his wife.

          So too, if a person claims to be a Christian, but you don’t see a Christ-like life, if you don’t observe faithfulness to his wife if he is married, or abstaining from sexual relationships if he is not married (for then he is being unfaithful to his future wife, not to mention being unfaithful to Christ).  If we don’t observe wilful human living, we are permitted to call one another on it. 

          That is not to say we can label each other as inferior Christians, for we all are inferior, so that’s hardly a distinction worth making.  Rather, we can call each other to account for how we are in fact living.  How are we choosing to live our lives?  Does our living reflect the Lordship of Christ?  Does our living reflect our love for Christ, our love for our spouses, our submission to Christ, our submission to one another?  If it isn’t then we have work to do.

          And we can be absolutely sure of this.  God’s strength is manifested in our weakness.  When we fall, when we confess, we are lifted up.  God restores us through Christ.

          When we fail one another, in our marriages, and we will, we confess, we lift one another up, and God restores us.  The standard has been set, and it is set very high, so high in fact that we cannot attain it apart from Christ.  So, let us strive hard in our marriages, strive hard, knowing that the reward is great, and that we strive not on our own heart, strength, mind and soul, but with the soul, mind, strength, and heart of Christ.  Amen.

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