“As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’” These words from Ephesians 5:31 are going to impact each of us in a different way. Some of us will feel a sense of warmth and joy, having experienced a good marriage and the love of a Godly man or woman. Some of us will feel regret, thinking of a lost love. Some of us will feel pain and anger due to a broken relationship. Some of us will feel a sense of loss and disappointment because we have never experienced this kind of love.
The Apostle Paul continues in Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” In these verses Paul is talking about marriage, but he’s also talking about much more than that. He’s using the institution of marriage to give us an example of Christ’s relationship with the church. Being “united as one” with your husband or wife is the deepest, most intimate experience a human can experience…however it pales in comparison to the intimacy that we can experience with Christ.
This is incredible news for those of us who are chronically ill. All relationships have their challenges; they take work and sacrifice. Add to the mix a chronic illness and they become even more difficult. If you have a good marriage and the love of a Godly man or woman, take a moment to praise the Lord right now. Thank Him for allowing your marriage to be a good example of Christ’s love for the church.
If you have lost a love or are in a relationship that is broken, thinking of marriage as an example of Christ’s love for the church probably isn’t bringing you warm fuzzies. If that’s you, I want to say I’m sorry. You are in a difficult situation, but Christ can bring healing…possibly to your marriage, definitely to your heart. We live in a world where God has given us the right to choose. We can choose to do good and live Godly lives or we can choose to sin, hurt others and walk away from God. I know that some of you reading this have been left by a spouse because they couldn’t handle your illness. I want you to know that God will never walk away from you. He will never leave you and He will always, ALWAYS love you. Remember that even the best marriage is only a taste of the intimacy that you can have with Christ.
If you are like me and have never experienced this kind of love, you probably feel like you are missing out on something. In a way we are. However, we need to remember that the best marriage is only a taste of the intimacy that we can have with Christ. We can have the real deal! The Creator of the universe is madly in love with us. Isn’t that more than enough?
We are all going to have moments where we struggle with the relationship that we have or don’t have, the relationship that isn’t going the way we would like, or the relationship that ends when the other person can’t handle our illness. When this happens it is easy to look for love in all the wrong places; accepting love and a feeling of intimacy from whoever will give it to us. I understand this, but this is not wise. Instead, we need to go to Jesus. As we spend time with Jesus and work on our relationship with Him we will find joy and fulfillment. After all, our identity and fulfillment in life should come from Christ and nothing and one else. He even wrote us a love letter…we call it the Bible. When we are feeling unloved all we need to do is get out our love letter and remind ourselves that we are wanted, loved and valued.
For those of you who are married, Paul has a parting reminder for you. “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33).”
Really, that’s what it comes down to for all of us. We need to love and respect others and we need to have a servant heart, just as Christ did. I want to leave you with a challenge found in Philippians 2:1-8 that we read from The Message...
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of Himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of Himself that He had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
© May 3, 2013