Love Notes

Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
 
As we continue our worship series, “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself,” we look to those who are certainly our closest neighbors-our family members. Contrary to what we might think or hope, the New Testament is not exactly an instruction manual on this topic. Why? Maybe it was because our two main teachers, Jesus and Paul, were bachelors! While they may not have personally dealt with marriage, children or in-laws, their messages of love and grace are the greatest resource we could ask for as we love our family. Paul begins a chapter on family relationships giving us the best instruction we could ask for. If you want to know how to love your family just look to how God loves you and how Jesus gave his life for you. While we can never achieve the breadth or depth of that kind of love, we know now what it looks and feels like to be truly loved. 

Ephesians 5: 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The challenge of marriage is that of two very self-centered, self-reliant and selfish people learning to put each other first. A great marriage is a sort of miracle in which two people find out that, against all reason and sense, when they let go of their own needs, they both come out ahead. Why is that? It’s the ties that bind. When I have my interests in mind first and foremost, there is nothing really holding me to my spouse. When trials and challenges come along, I am utterly alone. We don’t submit to each other out of some kind false humility, we submit for survival. We lash ourselves to each other and the mast of the ship and ride out the storms of life-together. Fortunately, we know who can calm the storms! 

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church… each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

For a long time these instructions were read as a sort of diagram for a couple that placed the man in the leadership role and the woman in a submissive role. I am so glad that my wife and I ignored that interpretation for the past 31 years. We have never seen a distinction between submitting and loving. To us, they have always meant the same thing. So my wife has submitted to me and loved me and I have loved her and submitted to her. In fact, some of our best moments were when I submitted and she loved! I am fine that some couples operate well with a pecking order but we didn’t want or need one. Instead we found in these words the very keys to building a good marriage-two people loving and respecting and submitting to each other!