Aiming to Emulate Christ and the Church
(c) Copyright 2008 Rev. Bill Versteeg
15 Be very careful, then,
how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of
every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be
foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not
get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with
the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual
songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving
thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus
I plan to speak today and next few Sunday mornings on this passage. Let me remind you of some of the glorious pictures we have seen regarding marriage in our previous sermons in this series.
First, we discovered that marriage was God’s highest achievement in creation. We tend to think that the creation of humanity was his highest creation, we were after all created in his image and likeness. But God goes even further in creation. He makes marriage an image, a likeness of the relationship between his son and the church. So we found that marriage was God’s highest achievement because it pictures the eternal relationship between Christ and the church. And it is God’s achievement, he made it, he performed the first wedding by bringing his newly formed daughter to Adam, he spoke it into existence - God was the first one to say “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Math 19:4), Paul is only quoting God here, so God spoke marriage into existence just like he spoke creation into existence by the word of his mouth, not only that, marriage continues as a creation of God sustained by his all powerful word. By saying that, we need to understand, marriage is not just a contract, it is a relationship God created. Not only that, God is the matchmaker, he brings two people together, so Jesus reminds us “what God has brought together, let men not separate.” Marriage is God’s highest achievement and so creation as we know it will come to its completion when the wedding supper of the Lamb, the son of God occurs. A marriage, that is God’s highest and final creation even in the new creation.
Not only is it his highest achievement, in being his highest achievement, it also is a relationship designed to bring out the most sublime and glorious nature of God - his covenant keeping nature. We often think that we, created in the image of God are his highest achievement, and so we ask ourselves, what in us this that glorious image of God - is it righteousness, holiness, reason, creativity, language, consciousness, my list could go on and on. But marriage is a higher achievement, it displays the covenant keeping character of the triune God.
We discovered that marriage is about covenant keeping! It is only in the context of covenant keeping that we discover that marriage is a safe place, safe enough to be naked and transparent with one another, without shame, safe because when we fail, we know that forgiveness is and will be given as hard as receiving or giving that forgiveness may be.
Paul’s point here is
“just as Christ does the church.” As Christ is
faithful to the church, we are to be faithful to one another. As Christ
forgives the church, we are to be forgiving to one another. For Christ
that forgiveness was not easy to give, it took giving up his life for
her on a cross, as Paul says, to cleanse her, to present her to himself
beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, in her priestly white linen wedding
dress, her mantle, as we touch on last Sunday. The point is - we get
married because marriage is designed to reflect the relationship
between Christ and the church. Marriage is not just a metaphor for that
relationship that the church uses for teaching purposes, marriage
exists to demonstrate the relationship between Christ and the church.
Paul uses the analogy between the body and the church, where everyone has different gifts and so functions differently in the body all subject to the one head who is Christ. And one part of the body cannot say to the other part, I don’t need you. We all need each other. He is drawing a simple analogy. But the human body does not exist in order to demonstrate that analogy. We exist because we were created by God and in his image. The point of many comparisons is simply that, to draw a comparison. Both items have their own reason for existence.
Marriage exists to demonstrate the
relationship between Christ and the church. And it has to be our
purpose in our relationships together to demonstrate the primary
relationship. If we understand that basic point, then we have
understood a revelatory dynamic that has the power to change our
marriages forever. Marriage is all about demonstrating the relationship
between Christ and the church. Understanding this truth gives couples
the power to forgive each other, even if a spouse has been unfaithful.
Understanding this has the power to shape behavior into Christlikeness
and it lays at the foundation for the roles that scripture portrays
between a husband and a wife. Yes, any role is possible if we go by
culture, if we go by the standards of our age. But if we understand
that the very reason marriage exists is to demonstrate the relationship
between Christ and the church, then our understanding of our roles will
be shaped by Christ and the church.
And we found as we looked at that theme, as we looked at Colossians, 3:12 , where Paul uses a marriage description of us, chosen, holy and beloved, we are to wear compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other. That is the mantle of the Spirit that God has given to us his bride. These are the characteristics that we are to live in our marriage today, not because they are a formula for a good marriage, not because it will be a source of our happiness, not because we are simply told to, but because the aim of each of our marriages is to emulate the relationship between Christ and the church. Five times in this passage, Paul says that its all about Christ and the church!
Why am I hammering this theme? Very
simply, it is the foundation for a Christian view of marriage. If we
forget the biblical purpose of marriage, then we might as well adopt
our cultures stands, we might as well adopt a perspective of marriage
that it fits between any two people regardless of gender or religion or
age or family relationship, we might as well shape our relationships
any way that we see fit, we might as well have multiple wives or
husbands, we might as well terminate our marriages anytime we find them
inconvenient, we might as well forget about marriage all together and
just call it what our culture calls it, a contractual relationship. We
might as well toss out our understanding of marriage as something
sacred because without this backbone of Christ and the church there is
nothing sacred about it. Its sacredness comes from Christ and the
church. And the challenge for each one of us is to live it out every
day so that it emulates Christ and the church.
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.