So, I’m standing in front of the mirror this morning at 6:00, swishing a toothbrush around in my mouth, and wondering whether or not I had written anything inappropriate, or offensive or just plain wrong, 5 hours earlier in that evoke her beauty post.
You just never know what can come out of an exhausted, caffeine-driven, midnight write such as that (or this).
My thoughts vaguely recalled something I had written about trying to do better. To quote myself, I said, “I’m not very good at loving her in the way that Jesus loves the church, but I’m really trying.”
My mind flashed immediately to the title of the book written by our pastor, Alan Kraft, and recently published: Good News for Those Trying Harder. Uh-oh.
I haven’t actually read the book yet – it was just released, for crying out loud – but having heard Alan’s words and heart from the pulpit for years, I’m pretty sure I can guess at the general angle he’s taking on this topic.
Let me cut to the chase, though, because I recognize that I am really trying to love my wife better, and somehow that seems okay, but I was prompted to examine just what it is I’m trying to do, and how I’m going about it.
The bottom line, as I see it, is this: The only way I’ll ever learn to love my wife in the way Jesus loves the church is to have a relationship with Jesus that reflects his love for me. The love of Jesus, in me and through me, will overcome my weaknesses and produce a righteous love for others in me.
How? I’m glad you asked.
This is the sticky part for us men. This will really put a ding in your machismo. Stick with me, though. This is good. Promise.
Go back to the stuff from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to which I referred in yesterday’s post about loving your wives as Christ loved the church.
So, I’m part of the church, right? I mean the church can be defined in many ways, I suppose, but I’m going out on a limb for sake of this discussion and saying that however you slice it, I’m going to consider myself part of whatever that term describes.
If I’m part of the church, then Christ loves me like a wife, in the best possible way.
(I know. This will make your gender signals scream a bit, but it’s a good challenge.)
His love makes me whole, his words evoke my beauty, and everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of me.
What is the direction to the wife? How should she respond to her husband? Not by trying harder, but by humbly submitting – not a submission to domination, but a submission to her husband’s desire to cherish her: “The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.” (Eph. 5:23, MSG)
Men usually screw this up. We easily lose track of our own role, and point out our wives’ lack of willingness to be submissive. What a load of codswallop!
The instruction here is to the wife, not to the husband to enforce this or impose it upon his wife. The wife is called to respond to being cherished. If we’re shoving our expectations for good behavior upon our wives, that’s misguided, foolish, foul, egotistical domination. It’s just ugly!
Christ does not treat us that way, and we ought not pretend that he’s instructing us to impose such nonsense on anyone else.
I really desire to be a good wife to Christ. (If being a man and a wife is disconcerting for you, go ahead and get over that. If you can’t, feel free to substitute “church” for “wife”.)
I want to let him cherish me. I want to submit to his advances upon me. I want to be open to him invading and overwhelming every area of my being. I want to allow him to bring out the best in me.
Picture, if you will, the woman who is so fearful of being seen as inadequate or incapable, or so fearful of losing her husband that she relentlessly tries, harder and harder, to please him, and to make him happy at all costs, just to maintain the pretense of love. That might be fun for the first few decades months, but eventually it gets old. She needs to chill out.
On the other hand, a wife who acts like a cactus – appealing from a distance, but prickly up close – is just as difficult to cherish. She needs to chill out.
I need to chill out. If I’m trying to do anything, I need to try to stop trying harder. I need to be loved well. I need to be naked and unashamed.
In light of such thoughts, the idea of evoking “her” beauty takes on a whole new world of meaning.
As I allow Christ to be my husband, I am transformed from a beastly husband, into a prince.
“I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10, KJV)