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Fifth in a Series–


Much can be learned about Christian marriage by observing one in action–especially from within the perspective of the Christian family.

How blessed are those children who are reared in the wonderful atmosphere of a truly Christian marriage and family! There, in spite of the sin-weaknesses and struggles of all involved, the love of Christ lives and rules. Such a wonderful Christian model can leave an indelible and life-long impression on the hearts (and future relationships) of impressionable young souls.

The Ultimate Marriage Model

As wonderful as is the example and influence of a godly marriage, the ultimate pattern and example is found on an even higher level: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. . . . Just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands” (Eph. 5:25,24).

The holy pattern set forth by the Holy Spirit through Paul is the spiritual union between Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (His bride). Its foundation is the holy, sacrificial, saving love of Christ and the responsive love-submission and service of His Church. What is to be emulated by Christian husbands and wives in their relationship toward one another are those same “love-attitudes.”

No Christian spouse would ever question such a noble “pattern” (also, goal) for our Christian marriages. Yet with the adoption of such lofty, holy objectives comes the humbling realization that their achievement is an absolute impossibility. Two sinners–even redeemed sinners–cannot even come close to imitating this love-pattern in marriage. The Law of God–this time speaking through the Sixth Commandment–has again done its work.

So once again we are driven outside ourselves and away from any illusions of our spiritual (even marital) qualities. Only through the marvelous forgiving power of the Gospel of Jesus are we restored and reassured of our status as the redeemed and beloved bride of Christ.

He whose life and love present an unachievable pattern for us to imitate now stands before the Father as our Representative who successfully achieved every holy objective at which we have fallen short. With His blood and life-sacrifice on Calvary, He has atoned for all our failings (including marital ones) and now presents us “as a glorious church, without stain or blemish.”

Assured of God’s forgiveness and empowered by His Gospel, we now seek to please the Lord. The “model” of Christ’s love now becomes the blueprint for a major and ongoing “remodeling” project in our lives and marriages. Daily we strive to tear down the old, rotted walls of pride, selfishness, and lovelessness; daily we seek to build up our marriages and one another with the new, strong, God-designed walls of Christ’s love.

Remodeling Whom?

One of the greatest temptations of any marriage “remodeling” effort is to misdirect it.

It can be very appealing to devote our time and energies to removing the “speck” from our marriage partner’s eye while ignoring the “plank” in our own eye (Mt. 7:3).

It is significant that God’s marriage blueprints focus our “remodeling” efforts on our own hearts, attitudes, and behaviors. Scriptural counsel emphasizes more being the right marriage partner ourself rather than seeking to remodel our spouse.

May God help us glorify Him and reflect the love of Christ in our marriage. Our spouse is a precious soul for whom Christ died, and our marriage is a wonderful opportunity to encourage and influence one another for Christ.

In our next segment we will examine some of the practical, day-to-day areas in which Christian spouses can further reflect the “love model” of Christ and His beloved bride, the Church.

–Pastor David Schierenbeck