Growing up, my dad stressed to me that the greatest thing a husband can do is to love his wife like Christ loves the church. As men, our minds go to the heroic thing of Christ dying on the cross – giving the ultimate sacrifice – out of love for all people including the church. Most of us men would say that if it came to a situation, we know we’d “take a bullet” for our wives. Just look at the testimonies of several women in the Colorado movie theater whose men covered them to save them from the flying bullets of a disturbed man. This is what it means to love our wives like Christ loved the church – to be willing to die for her.
But is that all it means? Does it not also mean that we are called to “live” for her as well? Jesus came to earth to live a life here on earth. He had some wonderful times like going to weddings and having feasts. But He also endured the pains of life. With all the distance that He travelled in His life, there had to be times that He said to the disciples, “Hold it, I’ve got to get this pebble out of my shoe – it’s really irritating me!” He had to process rejection by His family and betrayal by friends. His disciples didn’t always “get” Him nor did they always understand His methods.
However through this all, He loved His church – His bride. When He saw 5000 people hungry, He didn’t send them away even though He was tired and hungry Himself. Instead He had compassion and fed them with what little He had. When His disciples kept “not getting it” and remained thinking in ways that were not His ways, He lovingly continued to speak with them and lived in ways that showed what He was about. He gave up His temporal wants and desires of a life lived His way for His ultimate desire – intimate relationship between His church and Himself which could only be done through living in God’s will. And isn’t that to be our ultimate desire in our marriages? An intimate relationship with our wives that is reflective of our relationship with God the Trinity!
How does this look and play out in “real” life? We’re not Jesus (the perfect man) but if “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”(Galatians 2:20a NIV), then we are called to live out Christ in us. That means that we follow His examples. Practically speaking (cuz we’re guys), when we come home from a long day of work tired and exhausted to a wife saying “Do you know what YOUR child did?”, have compassion with her that she too is tired and exhausted and, just as Jesus fed the 5000, listen to her and help satisfy her needs. When there’s a sense of rejection or betrayal, be forgiving just as Jesus was (James his brother became one of Jesus’ biggest cheerleaders) When you’re not being understood, live out Christ in you so that your response is telling or showing in a different way that reveals who you really are – a follower of Christ.
Not only being willing to die for your wife is loving her as Christ loves the church but making the decision every day to live for her as Christ lived for the church, will eventually make almost any woman love and respect you.