To me the reference in the bible about the church being the bride of Christ has always seemed a little odd. I can definitely relate to God as a father, but Christ as a bridegroom just did not resonate. One set of scriptures that speaks of this is Ephesians 5:25-33 (NIV)
“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 his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-for we are members on 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 must also love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband.”
However, it is amazing the things God slowly reveals and teaches us through our closest relationships. When you first start out things are all fun and new but there comes a time when you think or may even say the honeymoon is definitely over.
Tim and I seemed to endure one trial after another while just beginning our marriage journey. I think we both felt disillusioned, weary, confused, and just plain uncertain if our marriage would even survive.
But God in all his goodness was pruning us and growing us during these trials. As we look back we can see He never left us. We also began to realize how our marriage correlates with our walk with Christ. You can’t have a meaningful marriage if your walk with Jesus is lacking.
Trust has been very important to both of us since the beginning. So much so that not long into dating we had a conversation about the fact that if we couldn’t trust each other our relationship would never work. The hard part of that is trusting each other through our differences. Tim is more detail oriented, and when things aren’t done with his kind of precision he tends to think that it won’t work. In that, he has had to learn to trust in me that things would get done and be right. Just like we both have to trust God when things aren’t going according to our specifications. As mentioned earlier, we have been through a lot of struggles in our marriage. And if we hadn’t started on a solid foundation of Christ and trust in Him and each other, we would not have made it this far.
We have begun to truly understand unconditional love. This one is tough! When you get married you say it all the time- “I love you.” And you honestly think you mean it. But God revealed to me early on that my love was not without conditions. When it came time to love in sickness, or while struggling financially, or in seemingly overwhelming situations I cried out to God saying that it is not possible. That was the first step to understanding that it is absolutely impossible in our own strength. We will fail every time. Only when God pours his love into us can we selflessly love others. When you both find your selves at the feet of Jesus crying out to him for help, He steps in and slowly changes us from the inside out.
God has also helped us understand the value of teamwork. This was not always the case. Many times there were unfulfilled expectations along with a big side of resentment. As we grew closer to Christ we were able to begin speaking the truth in love to each other. This allowed us to communicate our needs and wants in a respectful way. Another place we see evidence of this in our marriage is in areas I am weak or less likely to step out of my comfort zone Tim is strong and encourages me. I do the same for him.
Last week was pretty rough as Tim had been out of town for a couple of weeks and I had more than my share of responsibility. I found myself letting my emotions get the best of me as I became weary. Sunday morning as I was setting up the children’s area in The Road I managed to spill a huge tub of Legos. I finally thought, “OK, Lord I hear you”. “I know I am all out of whack”. Right then he reminded me of something Tim tells me quite often- “ You Are Not In This Alone.” What a huge comfort. God quickly reminded me that I can always depend on Him and His love. We want that to be a reminder and a comfort to you as well.
But its not just trust, unconditional love, or teamwork that has made our marriage what it is. We also attribute our marriage to things like selflessness, patience, showing grace, being humble, and forgiveness. If these words don’t sound familiar they should. They are the words that also describe the relationship that Jesus has with us.
This is why I believe that a marriage between a man and a woman is synonymous with the relationship between you and Christ. Are you patient with your spouse like Christ is with you? Do you forgive him/her like Jesus forgave you on the cross or do you hold a grudge? Do you trust each other like Jesus trusts God? Do you love your wife or husband unconditionally like Jesus loves you or do you have expectations that have to be met before you release your affection?
We have had to learn a lot of things in our marriage. But what we have noticed is that when our walk with Christ is intentional, our marriage and family flourish.
So what I leave you with is this:
Are you loving your husband or your wife like Christ loves the church?
We hope this leaves you blessed and challenged.