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 5:29-33In the above verses, Paul uses the relationship between Christ and the church to teach us some important truths about marriage. In reading this passage, we can also think about marriage in a way that helps us connect with our Heavenly Father on a deeper level. Here are three things on which we can reflect:
1) What are qualities we love about our earthly marriages or, if these things are lacking, we long for? When we were single, what dreams did we have for marriage?
Some answers might be companionship, joy, fun and laughter, and intimacy. We might long for someone who understands and listens to us. We might deeply respect our husband or future husband, and we might also have a great desire to work with him towards various goals in life. We might have or desire to have children with our husband. We might long to have adventures together. We might desire unity and peace in our relationship and in our home. I know that one thing I deeply appreciate about my husband is an undefinable something that has to do with home, belonging, security, and the shared memories of over three decades.
2) How might this relate to our relationship with the Lord? In God is the fullness of all of these good things that we possess and long for. Of course, the marriage analogy that Paul uses in Ephesians is only meant to go so far. Since God is our Creator, Savior, and Lord, there are elements in our relationship with him that transcend a human marriage. We do not worship our husbands, for instance. Yet, many of the things we enjoy in marriage are found in more perfect form in Christ.
My husband knows me and "gets me" more than anyone else on earth does, yet he can never know me as well as Christ knows me. My husband and I share a deeply committed love, but only Christ's love is perfect, eternal, and never failing. God is the one who grants us joy and peace, which are characteristics of his nature. My husband and I have physical children; God uses Christians to help others become new creations in Christ.
One of my favorite parts of the day is when my husband comes home from work and gives me a hug and a kiss. I love to hear his footsteps, and his cheerful voice and whistle warm up our house. Think how much more spending time with the Lord can be so encouraging. Rather than letting my love for Christ become stale, I want to pursue my relationship with all of my heart.
3) What are hindrances to a fulfilling relationship with our spouse? Sin, of course, is the underlying cause of most issues. When we allow selfishness, laziness, and distractions to eclipse our love for our husbands, our marriages become dull. Doubt and a lack of trust can spark many a problem between a husband and wife. Wives suffer when the spouse puts work, hobbies, hanging out with buddies, or -- perish the thought -- another woman -- ahead of the marriage. Husbands, too, are devastated when wives puts her pursuits or another man ahead the marriage. In the same way, the Lord asks us to love him above all other pursuits and to put away any idols in our hearts.
What is the cure for these ills? Repentance. Repentance can keep our earthly marriages fresh, and, even more so, it can refresh our relationship with the Lord. Acts reminds us that repentance brings times of refreshing.