“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Ephesians 5.25

I am tired. It’s Monday evening, and I really have no excuse to be tired, but I am.

At The Gathering yesterday we talked about faithfulness. God’s faithfulness to us, and our faithfulness to others. Faithfulness is hard. It is hard when you’re tired. We talked about faithfulness in the context, especially, of marriage.

I just finished reading and reflecting with the Bible. Part of my reading happened to be Ephesians 5, the chapter on Wives and Husbands, as my bible labels it. Already thinking about faithfulness in relationships, I read how a husband ought to love his wife as Christ loved the church.

Christ was beaten and mocked, stripped naked and whipped; he gave himself up for the church. By “gave himself up” I believe the bible means put aside who he was, put aside his rights as the Son of God, as God himself. Ephesians goes on to say that Christ gave himself up so that he could sanctify the church, to present the church to himself in splendor and holiness. Christ put aside who he was and endured the mocking and beating and dying because he loved the church. He wanted to be able to be with the church, to present it to himself as holy and without blemish. He loved the church.

So, what of marriage? My wife isn’t home from work, yet. How do I give myself up as Christ did for the church? I don’t think it means dying for her, at least not tonight. I’ve already emptied the trash and put it out for tomorrow — two things my wife deplores doing.

What I see at the heart of what Christ did is pursuit. He pursued the church. It meant putting aside his status as God and becoming human, even a human subject to brutal torture and death. And I think that much of my responding to my wife in a like-Christ manner means pursuing her: it means maybe putting aside my desire to watch a little television to clean the kitchen, or to write her a love note, or to make her dinner when she gets home. It means pursuing her not only when I feel tired, but when I feel distant or offended by her. It means, in an argument, giving up my ground so that I can bring her back
to myself.

I hope to love my wife as Christ did the church, to give myself up for her, to pursue her for the rest of my days.