We don’t often think of Jesus as a husband, much less as a perfect one. Yet the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus used the illustration of a husband and wife to describe the relationship between Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5:21-33 he offered a lengthy analogy that led to many instructions for husbands and wives on how to have a great marriage. It is extremely important to see that the whole discussion began with the appeal for us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. He then used the wife to illustrate the point that she is to submit to the husband as the church is to submit to Christ. The problem that too often arises is that because of the immediate illustration of the need for the wife to submit, is that husbands fail to notice that the whole thing started with submitting to one another so he is to submit to the wife as well.
But notice the next major point was specifically to husbands in the challenge to follow Jesus in how you love your wife. Love her like Christ loved the church. Remember when you read this that Jesus’ love for the church has never been conditioned on the church doing everything right and pleasing to him. He loved the church even before bringing it into being so much he was willing to be crucified to purchase the church with his blood. Paul challenged every husband to “Love your wife just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of 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.”
Now it is pretty easy to focus on how the wife is to submit. But what if husbands really loved their wives this intensely? Think of some of the results of such love from a husband. It would be cleansing so there wouldn’t be any keeping a record of all the ways she has messed up or failed along the way. If a husband loved this much there certainly would never be a time when he would say negative and hurtful things or make fun of her before others. Can you even imagine Jesus doing such with the church? If a husband had and showed that kind of love he would spend lots of time listening to her and understanding what her thoughts and feelings were instead of simply trying to force her to buy into his thinking. What if Jesus declared how much he loves the church but never had time for us and paid no attention to our prayers? Would you still believe he loved us? Of course not! Neither will any wife believe her husband loves anyone but himself if he only wants her to listen to him and follow his dreams.
If husbands loved their wives as Christ loves the church he would long for real partnership in all of life and would make certain to have lots of time carved out for the wife. In a conversation a few days ago a couple was talking about taking care of some children and in the conversation mentioned that the parents didn’t feel comfortable leaving their children with their grandparents because the husband who is a preacher was never home to help his wife if she had them. Only a short time before I had heard someone talking about what a good preacher the man is. I have never heard the man preach and know nothing really about him but I know this if he isn’t ever home to just be with his wife and family he isn’t even a good example of a Christian, much less a good preacher. No wonder so many preachers wives feel like the church is the other woman who has stolen her husband’s heart. Husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the church, not love the church the way he did and use it as an excuse to break the vows he made when he married his wife. How in the world could one think he is loving his wife like Christ loved the church when he doesn’t even make time to be with her, love her and listen to what is on her mind. Now, understand, I’ve heard the excuses that the preacher is doing the Lord’s work so it is his priority to be out every night studying with or counseling with someone. Don’t forget that your work for the Lord very much involves being the person who loves his wife like Christ loves the church. Nothing excuses not doing what God tells us to do.
I have met some elderships that actually felt like it was admirable for their preacher to be out every night and day “working for the church.” When that preacher’s wife throws in the towel or has a nervous breakdown, those same foolish men will often blame the wife. No one is the leader God wants them to be who isn’t the man God calls him to be at home with his wife and children. It amazes me that the same men who will tell a young man in business that it isn’t right for him to let that business destroy his family and lead him to fail his obligations at home, will turn to praise their preacher for making the same mistake. If a wife and children are saying about the husband that he is never at home, then no excuse he offers is sufficient. Many times the husband wants to respond by telling how many hours he is home. But if those hours are spent with his mind and heart at the office, then he isn’t at home even when his body is there.
Be a husband like Jesus if you really want to be a Christian husband!