Best of Daily Reflections: A Curious Tangent or the Main Point?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with 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.
Just about every commentary on Ephesians labels 5:22-33 something like “Instructions for Marriage,” and for good reason. This passage focuses on the relationship between husband and wife. It is the first section of a three-part household code that also speaks to relationships between children and parents as well as slaves and masters.
But if you study Ephesians 5:22-33 carefully, you’ll notice that it has more to say about Christ and the church than about husbands and wives. In fact, if you count the words in these twelve verses, you’ll find that about 55 percent of them are about Christ and the church, leaving only 45 percent for a discussion of marriage.
We might wonder if Paul loses his train of thought in this passage. Why does he talk so much about Christ and the church when his subject is marriage? If you’re familiar with the New Testament letters of Paul, you know that Christ is his favorite subject. So his focus in Ephesians 5:22-33 shouldn’t be a big surprise.
But Paul is doing more than playing his favorite theological song here. He is showing that what ought to shape a marriage most of all is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the story of Christ who, out of love, gave himself up for the church. The good news of Christ should shape all of our relationships, including our marriages, more than social conventions, more than religious practices, more than personal preferences, more than family traditions.
Thus, what might seem at first to be a tangent becomes the center of Paul’s teaching on marriage. If you want your marriage to be everything God intends it to be, look to Christ. Let the gospel story become your story, not just in the matter of your personal salvation, but also in the matter of how you live as a husband or a wife.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think of the gospel of Jesus Christ, what aspects of this good news are relevant to marriage? How might focusing on the gospel help us to be better husbands? Better wives? Better friends? Better workers? Better neighbors? Better citizens?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for reminding us that our relationships, including our marriages, should be reflections of the gospel. Sometimes we forget this, living in light of other stories, other values, other traditions. But you give us the gospel, not only so that we might come to know you through your grace in Christ, but also so that we might live out this good news each day.
For those who are married, I ask, Lord, that our marriages be shaped by the gospel. Yet may this be true for all of us in all of our relationships, no matter our marital status. May we live out the truth of your love in Christ each day, in each relationship. To you be all the glory! Amen.
It takes work to create good. It takes time and energy and resources and, well, work. Somewhere along the way, you might feel discouraged or worn out or frustrated by the whole thing, so we've asked a few people in The High Calling network to talk to us about creating and cultivating good things. We hope the series, Create Good, inspires you to keep looking up, pressing on, and doing good. We pray you find the inspiration to "not grow weary in doing good." God sees your work. God knows your desire to do good, to create good, to celebrate and cultivate good in the world. God is for you. And so are we.