One of the harsh realities of an authentic faith walk is living with the notion that everything about you is completely antithetical to God’s original intent for mankind. It’s difficult to tell a person living the illusion of an arbitrarily autonomous life, to acknowledge the fact that they are broken and are not functioning the way they were created. This was something that I had to come to grips with when I looked my soon-to-be wife in the face and utter the two most important words I have said to date; “I DO”.
I relished in this notion of settling down with an idea of what a wife should be. A wife will be my perfect help mate that will eliminate all temptations and do nothing but affirm me. She would be the perfect puzzle piece and both of our ideologies would align perfectly and we would be complete. It did not take long for me to realize that I was an idiot floating on a cloud of Hollywood based presuppositions of what a real marriage would entail. This idea did not align properly because as stated before we are living lives antithetical to original intent. I was a broken human and she was a broken human, and in marriage we were now broken together.
How does one maneuver through this reality? How do I manage life with someone who does not measure up to my subjective and ever changing “standards”? The answer is always and will forever be in scripture.
In the book of Ephesians Chapter 5 vs. 25, the word of the lord exclaims “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. This scripture has been repeated to me on numerous occasions with a tone of ease. I have heard this in counseling sessions, in pulpits, in casual conversations. It honestly doesn’t become real to you until you are actually committed to another human being. The fluidity of the words come alive when you are faced with your first real argument and test of will. You really have to struggle with what it means to love like a transcendent being loves.
How does a transcendent being love?
Christ loved and chose the nation of Israel as his people. There was nothing that they did to evoke such a deep love. By grace and through faith, they were chosen. He then saved them from captivity and bondage, and promised them a home. His Shekinah glory followed them and protected them. The people grew weary and put others before him. They worshipped idol Gods, and created false constructs and man made ideologies. They essentially were in a perpetual love affair with everything but him. God still loved them. In his permissive will he granted them their hearts desires, knowing it would hurt them in the long run. He continued to love them. He created covenant bonds through the lineage of broken beings. The people still entrenched themselves in the muck and grim of false autonomy. He still loved them. We see an entire narrative of God perpetually loving people, who refused to properly love him back. Yet he demonstrates the greatest act of love anyone can ask for; he died for them. His holiness became the substitute and his righteousness was then imputed upon an undeserving people group. Why? Because he loved them.
So in Ephesians, when the word of the lord says, “Husbands, love your wives, as christ loved the church, and gave himself up to her”, he is telling the husband to continue to chase something that is broken, and die for it if you must. Both beings are broken, but you are still being chased, and in that chase you are being sanctified.
I have come to realize that God puts much credence on the human relationship, because it essentially should mirror the relationship that Christ has with the church. Your spouse will disappoint you. Your spouse will change. Your spouse will at times put things before you. Your spouse will be selfish. Your spouse will say things they don’t mean. Your spouse will act out. Your spouse will at times be childish. Your spouse will make you question the covenant you made. Your spouse will live the rest of their life not being perfect, and yet you are commanded to love them. Not a superficial petty love, but a love that is transformative, and ultimately places you at the foot of the cross.
Every time I find myself at my wits end, because I am not being satisfied by superficial standards. I think of the goodness of Jesus and all he has done for me and all the things he has put up with, and yet still has a strong agape love for me. How can I then look at my wife and feel disappointment? How can I judge and quit on an imperfect being? How dare I look at her with disdain, when I know the consequences of sin is ultimate death, and yet God pardoned me with his holy and righteous love!
You will be disappointed, but it will never measure up to how we have disappointed God.
Go love them.
PC – Cricket’s Photography