Let's take the scripture from Ephesians 5 and make it nice and uncomfortably specific:
Lydia, submit to Randy as unto the Lord. For Randy is your head, as Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, Lydia, be subject to Randy in everything.
Lydia, do not submit to Randy unwillingly. That would be to make him a tyrant that you only obey because you are forced to. Instead, by willing consent, put your own desires in submission to your husband as your God-given head.
This is the same as with every Christian. We do not obey the Lord Jesus because He is an awful tyrant. Instead, you willingly obey Christ in submission, not only because He is a wonderful and loving Savior, but also because He is your Head.
Even then, every Christian who tries to submit to Christ must run into the old Adam within the human heart. The sinful nature does not want willing submission to Christ, any more than the sinful nature in a wife wants to willingly submit to her husband. The human heart says, "Why should I obey him? I mean, think about it. He's Randy. Surely he's not worthy of your obedience."
But it is not Randy you will submit to. It is Christ, through Randy, as Saint Paul says. In the same way, it was not really Saint Paul that was saying these things, but the Lord Jesus said them through Saint Paul. We regard it as God's word, not the word of a mere man. In the same way, do not think about Randy as the one to whom submission is due. Think of the Lord Jesus. who is worthy of all obedience.
The world would have all wives rebel against their husbands. The world's advice is: Only obey your husband in things that you were going to do anyway. Or, only obey if you feel like it's a wise thing to do. Or, only obey if you feel like your husband has been loving enough or deserving of your respect. Otherwise, don't let any man tell you what to do, says the world.
But Saint Paul says, "be subject to your husband in everything." Do not make excuses for rebellion based on human reason or emotion or anything else. If you do, then you are subjecting yourself to those things, and acting as if they were your head.
But even when your old Adam gets in the way of submission to your husband, remember that your identity as wife is not created by your ability to submit. God has called you by the honorable title of "wife." It is His gift of grace. Likewise, it is His gift of grace to forgive whenever the flesh falls short, through the Blood of Christ.
Therefore, you submit to your husband, and to Christ your head, not to earn anything, but out of gratitude to the gifts of God. In the same way, all the Bride of Christ, His Church, is faithful to the Bridegroom because He is our Light and Life. He is the Way to the Father. He is the Truth that sets you free. Therefore, we submit to Him.
Randy, you must be like Christ to your wife. Your love must be the pure love which asks for nothing in advance and nothing in return. Your love must be willing to sacrifice all. Your love must count yourself as nothing, and her as everything.
This is the exact purpose of why the Lord is giving you headship over your wife. You must use that headship in order to offer up your life for her sake, for this is also what Christ did for His Bride. In every choice you make and every sacrifice when you put her first, you will pour out a little of your life. You will die to yourself for her sake. You will not do this perfectly. You will fall far, far, far short. In your fleshly heart there cannot be perfect, selfless love. There will always be a selfish, self-centeredness in your heart that will get in the way of perfect love, as it does in every human heart.
Yet Christ, by His Spirit, will begin to teach you in little ways and little steps. As He has given you new birth and a new heart, He will teach that heart to begin to love. Even then, you will fall far short of Christ's example, and you will need much forgiveness.
But I tell you, you will succeed. For how does a husband, ultimately, show love to his family? Saint Paul shows you, in the example of Christ. A husband cleanses his bride with the washing of water with the Word, that he might present her glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she should be holy and without blemish.
This you will do for Lydia and for whatever children the Lord may bless you with. Lydia, praise God, has already been brought to the cleansing of the water with the Word. As her husband, you will see to it that she remains in her baptismal grace by seeing that she continues hearing the Word of Christ. As she remains in the forgiveness of her washing of renewal, she is being made holy in sanctification, until the Day of Resurrection, when she will be raised without any sin or blemish of any kind.
Will any of this truly be your doing, Randy? No, since it is Christ who Baptizes and Christ who preserves in faith and Christ who makes holy. But you, Randy, are chosen by Christ to be His instrument to bring these things to this precious bride of yours.
By preserving your bride in Christ, you will keep her in eternal life full of unimaginable joy, deathless immortality, and perfect health. What could be better than giving these things to your beloved bride? No sacrifice could ever be too painful for this infinite goal. In the same way, Christ suffered death and hell for our sins so that He has made us His beloved Bride. And that is exactly what we are, and forever will be.
Even more than that, Christ has made us His Body. This is a great and profound mystery. He must feel all that we feel, as His life is our life. His Blood is our Blood, and His Spirit is our Spirit. His life is so perfectly united with us that now we are one with Him. Where He is, there we will be, forever and ever.
Now He has so blessed this man and woman that He has drawn them together in a beautiful picture of His love for the Church. Lydia is Randy's flesh and blood. She is his body, to care for and nourish. They are one life, not two.
May God strengthen you in love, so that you no longer see two, but only one. May His Spirit lead you to submit and to love, no longer thinking of yourself, but only of the one that Christ has joined you with.
In the Name of this Christ alone, with the Father and the Spirit, Amen.
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