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The Blog of Darryl Dash

This blog is about how Jesus changes everything. He changes:

Our relationship with God

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This blog exists to explore some of the ways that Jesus changes everything. It provides resources and articles that will help you think about the ways that Jesus can change every part of your life.

The Lord himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. (C.H. Spurgeon, All of Grace)

Filtering by Category: marriage

The Gospel Applied to Marriage, Part Two (Ephesians 5:22-33)

We are looking at a somewhat controversial topic today. I don't normally enjoy talking about controversial topics. But that's one of the beauties of working through sections of God's Word: you don't get to pick the topics you cover. We're addressing this topic because, like Mount Everest, it's there.

But the truth is: we also need to hear what God's Word says on the topic of marriage. I am so glad that the Bible is so practical in how it applies to every area of life. We need to hear from God, because marriage is too important and too difficult without his help.

So we're going to get very practical today. My goal is to say all that this passage says, and to say as little as possible outside of what this passage says, and to be very practical in how we apply this to our marriages today. I think you're going to find that while we may struggle with what this passage says at first, it is written for our joy. This comes from the God who made us and who knows us, and it brings us in touch with who he made us to be. It will actually be something that frees us rather than something that binds us.

I want to look at three things today: that there is a difference between men and women, how this difference is to work itself out in our marriages, and finally, how we can get there.

But first we have to see that there is a difference.

Paul says in verse 22-24:

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 Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

We read this and say, "What in the world? That may have been fine back then, but why should wives submit today? And how are husbands the head?" It's very easy to dismiss this out of hand as being outdated and oppressive, and to think that we're more enlightened now.

But there is an underlying assumption that we need to examine. Paul is teaching here that men and women have overlapping but distinguishable ways of being human. In other words, men and women are equal, but not equivalent. We are both human, but vastly different. And our marriages are transformed as we rediscover the joy of being male and female together in our marriages in a way that completes us and that fulfills us.

Let me back up a little. When God created the world, he created Adam first. It's fascinating that God evaluated everything that he had made, he saw that it was good. But even before sin entered the world, even when the world was perfect, God looked at the single male he had created and said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). Think about this for a minute. The world was perfect, but even in a perfect world, it was not good for male to be without female. And so we read in Genesis 2 that God said, "I will make a helper suitable for him."

A lot of people have misunderstood what this phrase "a helper suitable for him" means. What it means is that Eve has something that Adam lacks. She has a strength in an area that he lacks, and he needs her. Women were created because men lacked something that only females can provide. Eve is not a clone of Adam, but rather somebody like him but different. And when Adam saw this blend of "same as but different from" he was very happy and breaks into the first poem in the Bible, and therefore the first poem we know of in history:

The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh..."
(Genesis 2:23)

It's interesting to note that the Bible often talks about humans being made in the image of God. Whenever it does so, it is clear that it refers to both males and females. For instance, Genesis 1:27 says:

So God created human beings in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

What this means is that men and women are made equally in God's image. It takes men and women together. If we lived in a society with only men or only women, we would not have as full a picture of what God is like than when we see men and women together reflecting the beauty of God's character.

So we see this beautiful picture of the only perfect marriage that has ever existed before the Fall, and there were differences, and the differences were amazing. The differences were for their joy. We see the differences all over the first few chapters of Genesis, in the order of creation, the naming role of the man. God had Adam name all the creatures, and indeed he named Eve as well, not because God got tired and couldn't come up with any names, but because he wanted Adam to take some sort of authority in naming. Naming something, even today, implies some kind of authority over what is named. There were no tensions between Adam and Eve. There was no oppression. This was the only perfect marriage that ever existed. But there were differences between them, even somewhat of a leadership role for Adam. And these differences were for their joy.

We read that one of the consequences of sin entering the world is that these differences became sources of tension as well as sources of joy. God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16:

Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.

What this means is that as a result of sin, we no longer enjoy the differences as we were intended to. Men were supposed to exercise loving, humble, and considerate leadership, but are now prone to becoming harsh and emotionally distant. Eve was intended to intelligently and willingly complement Adam and his leadership, but now wants the leadership for herself. Both Adam and Eve fall into sinful patterns. Eve wants to reverse God's plan and lead Adam; Adam stops lovingly leading and caring for his wife. Their desires were distorted, and we live with the results today.

But I'm so glad we get a picture of what marriage was supposed to be. We were designed to be incomplete as males and females, but together there is completion. We were designed to be different, but complementary. We are equal, but not equivalent. There is an irreversible and wonderful difference between men and women that was supposed to be for our joy, not for our conflict. There really is a difference between us, and before sin distorted us, this difference was all good.

By the way, it's not just Christians who are noticing that men and women really are different. All kinds of research shows that men and women are both similar and vastly different in how they approach everything. Our brains and how we wire are very different. Whether as young children or in how we clean or as presidents of corporations, we approach everything differently. Even if we do the same thing, there is often a different thinking process that leads us there. Anthropologists have done studies and have found that the same patterns of male and female behaviors are found throughout all cultures and times that can't be explained merely by socialization. God really has made us as male and female, equal, incomplete without the other, and different.

So let's look at how Paul applies this.

Here is what I really want us to understand. Paul does not want to take us back to a traditional, patriarchal view of marriage. That's what so many people think that he's doing here in this passage, and that makes it easy to write it off as being outdated. But that's not at all what Paul was doing. What Paul wrote here, and elsewhere, is actually against both traditional and modern forms of marriage. It corrects both our tendencies toward male domination and toward obliterating the differences between us. You don't find what Paul wrote here anywhere else. It's because the gospel sets us free both from traditional distortions of marriage as well as modern ones.

No, what Paul wants to take us back to is the only perfect marriage that ever existed. You see this in verse 31, which speaks of that perfect marriage, which is a pattern for all of our marriages today. We now have the power to follow this pattern because of the gospel.

Paul is saying here that our marriages can, because of Christ, start to look like what marriage was meant to be before sin entered the world. Men can start to learn how to lovingly lead without domination; women can start to enjoy - key word, enjoy! - lovingly affirming her husband's leadership in a way that provides strength where he lacks it. There is no power struggle, no putting down of the other. There is a beautiful coming-together of two people who would be incomplete without the other, and an enjoyment of the differences.

So Paul doesn't want to take us back to traditional marriages. It's much better than that. He wants to take us back to who we were supposed to be in the first place. He wants us to enjoy something like the only perfect marriage in history. Not only that, but he wants our marriages to be parables of an even greater marriage that will take place one day: the marriage between Christ and his church.

So let's get very practical here. The two commands to women are to submit in verse 22 and to respect her husband in verse 33. We have to be clear about what this does not mean. This does not mean to become a doormat or to agree with everything your husband says, or that you stop thinking or do all the cooking and cleaning. All of those are distortions that have nothing to do with what this text says.

The principle that it gets to is this: the gospel allows you to become a wife who overcomes the distortions of sin and willingly rejoices in your husband's loving leadership in your marriage. You are still equal in every way to your husband. Your way of approaching the world is vastly different from your husband's, and he needs your ways of thinking. He needs your input. It would not be good for him to be alone! But you will become like Eve before the Fall: different, providing what your husband lacks at his very core; equal; without a power struggle; honoring and affirming your husband's loving leadership.

Notice that this doesn't say who will do the dishes. It leaves many of the implications of how this works out in everyday life up to you. But what it does say is that the gospel makes it possible to overcome the sinful effects of the Fall that caused women to start to hate their husband's loving leadership. It allows women to enjoy the differences.

But it doesn't end there. Paul spends most of his time talking to men, and this is what he says. Men, love your wives. Don't be emotionally distant or domineering. Love your wife and care for her so sacrificially that you start to remind people of how Jesus loves the church. Make your marriage a one-flesh partnership so that the two of you really become one, and so that you nourish and care for her as much as you care for yourself.

In other words, the gospel counteracts the effects of sin, which cause men to become domineering and emotionally distant, and women to not want their husbands to lovingly lead. We are different, and the gospel allows these differences to be sources of joy in our marriages rather than sources of tension.

I want to get very practical here about making decisions. Does this mean that the man always gets to make the decisions, and the woman has to follow whatever he says? Absolutely not. Almost every decision can be made together. But there are times when the two of you can't agree, and to not agree is in itself a decision. Somebody's got to break the logjam. It's rare, but it happens.

So here's how it could work. You want to buy a car, but you can't agree. You talk about it for ages, but you don't get anywhere. So eventually the husband says, "I'm sorry, dear, but someone's got to make the decision. I'm afraid I've got to make the call." He is exercising his loving leadership. And so he makes the decision, and they buy the car that his wife wanted. He leads, but in a radically selfless way that puts her well-being first.

Let me give you a real life example. Wayne Grudem is a theologian who is known for his beliefs that men and women are complementary but different. His views are sometimes controversial. They're afraid that his views will lead to male domination. Grudem had a prestigious post at a major school in Chicago for twenty years. He was chair of a department.

There was one problem. As a result of a car accident, his wife was in chronic pain. That pain was aggravated by cold and humidity, which mean that Chicago was not the best place to live.

After a couple of trips to Phoenix, he realized that the climate there would be much better for his wife. So he phoned the dean of a smaller seminary there and asked if there might be a job possibility there. It was a much smaller school, a much less prestigious post, but he took it. He says:

I came to Ephesians 5:28 in my regular schedule of daily Bible reading, and the Lord used this verse strongly in my own decision process: "In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." After reading that, I thought it was important for me to move for the sake of Margaret's physical body, her physical health.

This highlights a little of what marriage is supposed to be: a coming together of two different and complementary people who need each other, in which both are equal and both contribute. The wife willingly and joyfully respects her husband's leadership, and the husband uses that leadership to love and sacrifice for his wife.

Paul doesn't want us to have a traditional marriage, or a modern one. He wants us to have one that resembles the only perfect marriage in history, and one that reflects the upcoming marriage of Christ to his church.

Let me close this morning by asking how we can get there.

I realize we are all in different places this morning. I may have sparked a lot of questions, not least of which is "how do we get there from here?"

I want to close by asking you to do three things.

First, it's tempting as we read this to wish that our spouse would listen to the part that applies to them. But the reality is that you can't change your spouse. This passage is written for your benefit. Don't focus on getting your spouse to obey this passage; focus on you applying this passage. Your spouse may never change, but you, with the help of God, can. I realize that this is incredibly difficult for some of you who are in difficult marriages, but please work on understanding what this passage means for you rather than worrying about how it applies to your spouse.

This doesn't mean that you won't have discussions about how this applies to both of you down the road. You may need to talk about this together, or even begin enlist the help of brothers and sisters. You may need marriage counseling. There is no shame in that. But don't begin by applying it to your spouse. Begin by applying it to yourself.

Secondly, begin to rejoice in the differences. The Bible tells us that some of the things that cause tension in marriage are differences that were originally meant to give us joy. As you begin to think biblically about your marriage, you may begin to see the differences between you as gifts from God. Begin to rejoice in what it means to be men and women, and instead of letting those differences frustrate you, see them as gifts from God. We are incomplete without the other.

In music, two notes that are different from one another can clash. But there are notes that are quite different that, when brought together, create an amazing sound. There are chords and harmonies that we can only enjoy when our differences are sounded together, and these can bring us great joy.

Finally, don't lose sight of where this comes in Ephesians. Chapters 1 to 3 of this book are about the gospel, what God has accomplished through Christ for us. Chapters 4 to 6 are about how this changes our lives. The type of marriage that Paul describes here is only possible because of the gospel, through the power of the Spirit.

I used to watch shows as a kid that would have this disclaimer: "Don't try this at home." This passage should come with a disclaimer: "Don't try this without the gospel." This passage is all about God restoring the male-female relationship to what it was supposed to be, which is only possible through the gospel. So experience this gospel. Learn what Christ has done for you. Turn to him and trust in him, and it will change every part of your lives.

My prayer for you is that you will begin to apply this to your lives and marriages; that you will learn to be fully male, fully female, and that you will enjoy the differences. My prayer is that your marriage will begin to overcome all the sinful distortions that entered the world as a result of sin, and that through the gospel it will start to look like the only perfect marriage in history - and even more importantly, like the upcoming marriage between Christ and his church.

The Gospel Applied to Marriage, Part One (Ephesians 5:22-33)

For the months leading up to Easter, we were looking at the unfolding mystery. Jesus, we read, is on every page of Scripture. It all leads to him. We began to see many of the signposts that point to Jesus all throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. The problem is that we often read Scripture and focus on the individual scenes, while losing track of the main storyline, which means that we lose track of what it's all about.

We're back in Ephesians now, where we've been since September for the most part. You'd think that we're back in the New Testament now, so there's no danger of forgetting the storyline. Jesus is literally on almost every page, so you'd think we would be okay, that we'd apply Jesus to everything. But you'd be wrong. This is especially true when we get to practical topics, like the one we're looking at today. It's easy to start handing out practical tips that are helpful, but have nothing to do with Jesus and the gospel. What do those have to do with marriage anyway?

It's here that the Apostle Paul comes along and says: Jesus has everything to do with your marriage. Jesus is on every page of Scripture. And in today's passage, Paul says that Christian marriage is all about Jesus. This blows me away. Do you remember how we said that the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah is a picture of Christ, just like the Passover and the rock in the desert were pictures of Christ? Paul says here that your marriage is also a picture of Christ. It's a signpost. Just as all these stories and types point to Jesus, you are called to apply the gospel in such a way that your marriage points to Jesus.

Paul's not writing to ideal people who have perfect spouses and no stresses. He's writing to real people in the real world. He's applying the gospel to how we live our lives. And in the passage before us today, I'd like for us to see three things. First: what Paul says about Jesus. Second: how Paul applies this to marriage. Third: one way that we could miss Paul's message, and one way that we can get this really right.

So let's look at this. Let's begin with what Paul says about Jesus in this passage.

As we begin to look at what Paul says about Jesus, I want to tell you about something that's changed recently. The penny has dropped in my life so that I now understand something that I've never understood as clearly as I have before.

How in the world do we change? The surprising Biblical answer is that we change as we see Jesus and the gospel in new ways and apply that to our lives. Somebody has compared this to a Coke machine. You put the money in, and sometimes nothing comes out. You have to bang the machine a couple of times until the coins drop and the Coke comes out. It's that way with the gospel. We get it, but we don't always see the results. So what we have to do is to bang the gospel into ourselves until the coins drop, and we get the results. Our biggest challenge is to get the gospel to drop into our lives.

In other words, the best way for us to change isn't to focus on the changes; it's to focus on Jesus. It's to see and understand and appreciate who Jesus is and what he has done for us. When we have a vision of the loveliness and perfection of Christ, we'll long to be like him. When we understand that right now he is making intercession for us, and that the gospel changes us so that we have the power to obey, then we'll be ready to live changed lives.

So notice that when Paul begins to talk about marriage, he turns our focus to Jesus. The reason is that nothing will change our marriages like seeing Jesus and understanding what he's done for us. You could talk about the needs of men and women, and good communication skills, and all kinds of other good things. And they are good. But Paul knows what's going to change us. We're changed as the beauty and value of what Jesus did for us is grasped by our hearts and applied to our marriages.

So Paul gives us a vision in verse 23 of "Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." If you read that and yawn, you haven't really understood what Paul is saying here. If you looked at the recipients of Paul's letter in Ephesus, they wouldn't have looked like much. To be honest, churches seldom look like much. But Paul says that the church is much more than we normally think. It's a new humanity, he's explained. It's a key part of what God has been up to for all of history: creating a people for himself. The church is part of the new creation that God is creating, experienced in advance. Here, Paul says that the church is actually the body of Christ. We've heard that term so often that we miss the significance of it. He's saying that the church is somehow the physical presence of Jesus Christ himself in this world. And Jesus has authority over the church as its head. He himself is the Savior of the church.

Then you see exactly what Jesus Christ has done for the church in verses 25 to 27:

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.

Paul here is describing the extent of Jesus' love for the church, and it's amazing. He loved the church, Paul says. How so? He gave himself up for her. Jesus, who is God and is eternally praised loved the church so much that he came to offer up his life and die out of love for the church. He loved the church so much that he died for it. Hebrews 12:2 puts it this way: "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame." Jesus loved the church so much that he willingly suffered through not only the physical agony of the cross, but the agony of bearing our sins and the wrath of God, so that he could make us holy, setting us aside for himself.

You then get the beautiful picture of the results of this. What does it mean, this washing with water and the word? This may be, in part, a reference to baptism, and to hearing the and being changed by the word of the gospel. But it's probably also a reference to the Jewish custom of a bridal bath. Ezekiel 16 gives a beautiful picture of the Lord entering into a marriage relationship with Israel:

I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. (Ezekiel 16:8-9)

So you have this beautiful picture of Jesus loving the church so much that he dies for it, that he enters into a relationship so intimate and tender that it can only be compared to marriage. And the result is, according to verse 27, that we are going to be presented "to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." The church is blemished and wrinkled right now, but we will be presented to him at his return completely unstained, completely unwrinkled, completely unblemished. We will be dazzling because of what Christ has done for us. I love the way that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it:

The Beauty-Specialist will have put his final touch to the church, the massaging will have been so perfect that there will not be a single wrinkle left. She will look young, and in the bloom of youth, with color in her cheeks, with her skin perfect, without any spots or wrinkles. And she will remain like that for ever and for ever. The body of her humiliation will have gone, it will have been transformed and transfigured into the body of her glorification.

This is taking some work for the men, but that's okay. You can work at this picture of being the bride of Christ while the women work on the picture of being sons of God! What Paul is saying is that the church, which looks so blemished and imperfect here, will be completely transformed by what Jesus has done for it, that it will become and remain more stunning than the most beautiful bride you've ever seen.

Not only that, but verse 29 says that Christ feeds and nourishes the church in the present. Christ is providing everything needed for the nourishment and growth of his church. He wholeheartedly, tenderly, and completely cares for the church out of his love.

What Paul describes here has two implications for us. The first is that it really changes our view of the church. Don't ever make the mistake of devaluing the church. We're not much in ourselves. We sure don't look like much. But we are much because Christ loves us and is at work within us, transforming us so that we will one day be stunning. We need a much higher view of who the church is, not because of who we are in ourselves, but because of who we are becoming in Jesus Christ.

But this also means that we need to be amazed, stunned, by Jesus and what he has done for us. This is a picture of how much Jesus Christ loves us, and it leaves us amazed and speechless. When we see Jesus and what he has done for us, and when we really get it, then it leaves us speechless, amazed, and worshiping. "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." When we get this - when we really get it - it will change everything about us.

So that is what this passage tells us about Jesus. Paul goes in an unusual direction with this, because he takes what is true about Jesus and applies it to marriage.

So let's look at how Paul applies who Jesus is, and what he has done, to marriage.

The big picture is this: that our marriages, if we are his followers, are to become reproductions, in miniature, of Christ and his church. We are called to make our marriages reflections, types, parallels of the kind of relationship and radical love that Christ and the church have for each other. When we apply the gospel to marriage, we become models of the ultimate relationship we could ever have.

Remember that Paul isn't writing to ideal people with ideal marriages. This is more than just idealism here. Paul is saying that the way to transform our marriages is for us to see Christ clearly, so that he becomes not only the motivation but also the model for how we live in our marriages.

This gives incredible value to women. When Paul wrote this, women were viewed very poorly, just as they are still today in far too many cases. Jewish men at this time used to pray every morning, giving thanks that they had not been born "a Gentile, a slave, or a woman." Jewish law didn't see women as persons, but as things. They had no legal rights whatsoever. And it was even worse in the Greek world. Men were not always expected to be even be friends with their wives.

Paul comes along and turns this upside down. He says that marriage is a model of the ultimate human relationship, and that women are to be loved just like Christ loves the church. In fact, Paul spends most of his time here talking to the men about the way they are to love their wives, selflessly, sacrificially. Husbands are to be committed to the total well-being of their wives, especially spiritually, so that she becomes exquisite in her splendor, unsurpassed in her beauty. This is how Christ loves the church.

We're going to talk about this in a minute, but notice that Paul tells the wives, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). I know you have questions about this. We're going to get to those in a minute! In light of telling the wives to submit, what do you think Paul is going to say to the husbands? You would expect that Paul would say, "Husbands, exercise authority over your wives. Rule over your wives." But he doesn't! Not once. Not even close. Instead, he says, "Husbands, love your wives" (Ephesians 5:25). And then he gives the model: Jesus. Husbands are to love their wives just as much as Jesus loves the church. They are to give themselves to her, and the standard is Jesus. I hope you see how radical this is, how much it speaks to the value of our wives.

We usually choke on verse 22 that speaks of women submitting to their husbands. But notice carefully what it means. The word here does not speak anything of value, because Scripture clearly teaches that both men and women are equally valuable before God. It does not say that women should submit to every man, only their husbands. And it's given in the middle voice, which means that it is voluntary, not demanded. It's a free and voluntary choice, not a demand. And it's not a demeaning thing. It's so that the marriage relationship can reflect the relationships of Christ to the church, the ultimate relationship that any of us could ever have.

I realize that there's still all kinds of questions that you may have, and I hope we will get to some of them. But I hope you see what Paul is getting at here. He wants our marriages to be changed, not by trying harder or communicating better, although those are good. He wants us to be changed because we see how Jesus loves us, so that Jesus' love becomes the model and the motivation for our own marriages.

Let's look as we close at two ways we can miss what he's saying, and one way we can get it.

Our real challenge when we read the Bible, especially a passage like this, is to say all that it says without saying any less or more. I have to confess that I've fudged on this passage in the past, trying to soften what it says, especially because parts of it are hard to hear in our culture and our day. We miss out on what this passage says when we say less by softening it too much, or when we say more by saying things that aren't really here. I imagine I'm not alone this morning. There are some of us who want to take scissors and cut parts of this out. There are others of us who want to add parts that we think Paul missed that would give what's written here even more bite.

The real question for us this morning if we are going to have marriages that reflect this amazing relationship that Christ has with the church is this: will we listen to what God says through Scripture, even if it contradicts what we want him to say? Think of it this way: if God is God, wouldn't you expect him to contradict you at points? If God agrees with you on every point, then he's really not the true God. You've made him in your own image. Will you hear God speak, even when what he says is not what you'd like him to say?

There are parts of Scripture that don't say what we like them to say. They're out of step with the times. But here's what I know about the times: the things we're saying now are going to be embarrassing to your grandchildren one day. When we set up our times as the arbiter of truth, as the ultimate standard of truth, then we're setting something up that is going to be an embarrassment in fifty years. It's far better to allow God to speak, rather than to set ourselves up as the authority. What God says is above the currents and fashions that change. So please come prepared to hear what God says, even if it's challenging at times. If it's challenging, that's a sign that maybe it is God who is speaking.

We're going to return next week to the practical implications of this passage for our marriages. But let me close this morning with one way that we can really get this: think about Jesus. Begin to think of all that he has done to save us. Think about the extent of his love, that he willingly offered up his life for you. Think of what you are becoming, what the church is becoming. He is changing us. C.S. Lewis said that "the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship." Think and meditate on the gospel and the extraordinary love of Jesus Christ, and it will begin to change you. And the more we'll want our own marriages to be models of that relationship, the ultimate human relationship we could ever have. The best way to improve your marriage is to become gripped with the love of Jesus Christ for the church.

Father, I pray today that you would help us see Jesus. Help us to see the extent of his love. May we truly grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.

And I pray that this love would begin to shape our marriages, as we become models of the relationship that Christ has with his church. May Christ's love begin to transform our marriages even as we think about it right now. And please help us as we come back next week and look at some practical applications of this in our lives. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.