Come Alive in Marriage / Day 1

BIBLE READING

Ephesians 5: 21-33

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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 Saviour. 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.

SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE

Last week we explored the question of 'purpose', asking, "Why am I here?" This week we are thinking about relationships or "Who am I going to fulfil my purpose with?"

Our purpose is rarely discovered and developed in isolation. Rather it most often finds it's fulfilment in the context of community. This letter to the Ephesians that we are studying was written, by Paul, to a community 

On a wedding day so many promises are made by both husband and wife. Sadly not all marriages end in a 'happily ever after'. What happened? How did two people who were once madly in love end up as two people, maybe still living under the same roof, yet co-existing with separate identities.

The Apostle Paul was probably single, yet the wisdom on marriage he gives us is so incredibly profound. He tells us that this is all so much bigger than just marriage - it's actually a picture representing the relationship Christ has with His church.

We are told to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. When Jesus is our king, then because of that relationship, we will be prepared to submit in the relationships around us. Submission is not about beating someone into surrender. It is a gentle, loving submission where we come under the mission of another out of reverence and love.

In marriage we discover the wonderful mystery of two strangers becoming one. We find our source and strength for marriage in Christ.

Many people build a picture of what the perfect marriage should look like and because it's so different from reality, we end up disillusioned or settle for less than all it could be. The Bible paints marriage, not as a standard we have to live up to, but as a story we get to live out.

Our modern culture tells us that it's so easy to fall in love. In fact, with so much technology around, we don't even need to leave the house to meet the person of our dreams. Yet, it also seems like it has never been harder to stay in love and grow in love. The media don't celebrate longevity and perseverance. However, as Christians, we know there is a better story and a bigger truth.

In the early days of a relationship it seems like love happens by accident. We don't plan it, we don't even expect it - we just fall in love. However, over time, the quirks stop being as cute, our spouse stops being as funny, and we may no longer appreciate all that we once thought was so wonderful. We stop thinking about serving their needs and start seeking solely to have our own needs met.

Falling in love can happen by mistake but growing in love requires intentionality and making the right, often small, choices every day. Chosen love is deeper than butterfly love.

In every relationship there are 2 truths at play:

(i) Expectation

(ii) Reality

Between these two truth is a gap and what we fill that gap with determines what that relationship becomes. When our spouse doesn't meet our expectations we have a choice to make. Do we fill the gap with assuming the worst about them. If we do, this invites unhealthy patterns of relating into our marriages. It sets a standard which the other is required to live up to. As they try to do this, fear of failure pushes them back, the gap grows larger and the disappointment is greater.

However if we choose to fill that gap with believing the best about the other person, this creates a safe, honest place for healthy communication, and the gap narrows and closes.

Simply put, fear pushes us away, love invites us in. Therefore, when there is a gap between expectation and reality, we should try to find the most generous reason why there is a gap, seek to see the best intentions in the other person.

Marriage is a reflection of how Christ loved the church. It's very clear that in our relationship with God, we haven't always lived up to His will, plans and commandments. Yet every time we fall and fail, He lovingly fills the gap. He pursues us, He accepts us, He forgives us and He liberates us