How did Christ love the Church?
‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church when he gave himself up for her’. (Ephesians 5:25)
Paul says that Christ’s love for the church is the model for husbands’ love for their wives. Christ’s love was expressed most fully when he gave himself up for her.
We know what that last phrase means: when he gave himself up – by death on a cross.
That’s love. The greatest example of love we’ll ever see is the sacrificial death of Christ for the church.
But what does it mean for Christian husbands in 21st century America? No one is looking to crucify us, at the moment.
Consider what Christ could have done for the church instead of laying down his life:
He could have subjected us to criticism – churches are full of things to criticize.
He could have pointed out our weaknesses, which are many.
He could have worried about our problems. Would we abandon sound doctrine? Would we get lost in the pursuit of worldly influence? Would we lose the next generation?
He could even have outright condemned us – rightly dismissed us as an unworthy bride.
But when Christ looks at us, the church, he has only praise and commendation and encouragement. He never criticizes us! We are people who are very weak and have a ton of problems, who sin daily – and he never criticizes us.
‘But wait!’ you might say, ‘that doesn’t square with my theology!’. ‘Christ can’t ignore sin and pretend it never happened! Christ can’t sweep our problems under the rug . . . ’
And that is exactly right. But he can sweep our problems up into his own arms, and bear those problems in his arms to a cross – where those arms, laden with our problems, are crucified. So that, when he looks at us, he doesn’t see problems, because to his eyes they are gone and crucified with him.
Who will condemn God’s elect? No one! Christ Jesus is the one who died and is now at the right hand of God interceding. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8)
That’s Christ love. Not just a stirring sacrificial death, but what that death accomplished: removing from us forever God’s condemnation for anything.
Husbands, that’s how we are to love our wives.
We can’t be harsh because of our wives’ problems, weaknesses, depressions, illnesses, mistakes, regrets, sorrows, pains, grief, inconsistencies, or irritations. Nothing in our wives can ever be cause for worry. Instead, we welcome her problems: an opportunity to bear them up, take them into our own arms, and walk away with them.