Continuing on from yesterday’s post…
We also see that Christ lays down his life for his bride. Paul tells us this in Ephesians 5:25 – that a man is to mirror Christ in laying down his life for his wife. So Jesus loves his wife so much that he gave himself up for her so that she would be sanctified and would not have to suffer. This got Jesus killed. Men, in what ways are you dying to yourself, giving yourself up for your wife, and laying your life down for your wife so that she would not have to suffer? What is she ‘putting up with’ or ‘tolerating’? I’m not saying you have to sell all of your guns and take up knitting, but I am saying that if you’re not willing to die a little bit to yourself, then you’re asking her to die for you. Let me be clear on this: this is in no way the gospel. You die, she doesn’t. And sometimes dying to yourself will feel like death – it’s not pleasant. But you do it for her, and you do it for the gospel. It’s not about you. Single men: Is the way that you structure and lead your life making it easier to die to yourself in the future, or are you ingraining in your life selfish indulgences that will cause you pain and anguish to rid yourself of them later? Asked in another way, are you becoming more selfish or more selfless?
As a follow-up to that first point, Christ deals with and takes on his Bride’s sin. Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God make Jesus who was sinless to become sin on our behalf. Practically speaking that means that as men we must take on her sin as our own and help her war against it as a useful husband. To be clear, this does not mean that we ‘fix’ her or make her our project. Do be a student of your wife and mirror Jesus by preparing to fight her sin (and your sin also) with her, but do not try to be Jesus and atone for her sin. Only Jesus can and does do that. To my single brothers: Are you able to help your future wife deal with her sin in a Christ-exalting, gospel-centered way? Can you tenderly help lead her to repentance when she is convicted, and continually speak the truth of reconciliation into her life? This, to me, is one of the main aspects of pastoring a home (did you know that you’re supposed to pastor your home?). It doesn’t mean that we wear a cape or arrogantly school her in theology. But it does mean that we walk with her and lovingly treat her delicately as the man who is spiritually responsible for her (see 1 Peter 3).
Another thing that I’ve seen is that Jesus makes preparations for his bride’s sanctification. Ephesians 5:26-27 says that he washes her with the water of the Word so as to present her blameless and pure. Isaiah 61:10 says that God covers his people in righteousness. So as men we are to ready ourselves to lead a woman spiritually to her benefit and God’s glory. This means that we must deal with our own junk, put to rest our own pet sins, and lead ourselves spiritually before we can with good conscience ask a woman to follow us. So face down your pride. Realize that your porn addiction is killing you spiritually (whether you realize it or not). And know what it is to lead spiritually. Obviously none of this happens overnight, and nobody is perfect. But if we’re following the model of Christ and his bride, by all means we must hold ourselves to that standard so as to show the manifold wisdom of God to this world. Do you know how to lead a woman spiritually? Are you growing and are you prepared to help her grow in the Lord?
As Jesus intercedes on her behalf, he also makes preparations for her future prosperity. By that I mean that he acts in such a way as to ensure that her future is bright, hope-filled, and joyous. Revelation 21:9-27 describes the ornate and beautiful city of Jerusalem (which 21:9 says is the Bride), and that it is bejeweled, holy, has many pearls, gold, and precious stones. As the description goes on, we find out that the city’s foundation stones are the Apostles and the people of Israel. Christ himself discipled the 12 apostles (minus Judas and including Paul) who then discipled others who laid the foundation of the early church. So Jesus was intimately involved in planning and ensuring his bride’s future and prosperity. Furthermore we see that Jesus in John 14:1-3 tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for us (the bride). So between now and the time that Jesus comes back for us, he’s busy making sure that everything is in order so that it’s perfect in heaven for his lady. So for those of us who aspire to marry someday, what does this all mean? The question I’ve been asking myself is whether or not I’m making plans and ensuring a bright, hope-filled future for my wife or not. Are you making plans to rid yourself of debt and help her pay hers off? Are you putting into your life habits and structures that ensure that she is worry-free about the future? Do you have insurance and steady gainful employment? All of these things are very practical, but are also important in preparing for marriage (at least as far as I can tell). Mostly idea is that as men we must have some view and plan for the future, and it must be one that brings joy and hopeful expectation rather than dread and burden.
As Jesus readies himself much like a groom in that stuffy storage closet room that they always give the guys to get ready for the wedding in, he is pursuing his bride with godly intent. He glorifies the Lord in everything, and he acts with conviction, passion, selflessness, and joy at the prospect of his wedding day. He stays pure for her (see the model of Boaz in Ruth, Hebrews 7:26, and Revelation 19:11), and eagerly awaits her arrival. And none of this is contingent on her past, the many suitors who have led her astray and into sin, or anything else for that matter. She is his girl, and he is completely devoted to her. Her ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfections’ are beautiful to him because they showcase the glory of God in her life (in her weakness she is strong in Christ).
I’ll end with this… we have no idea what Solomon’s bride in the Song of Solomon actually looked like. We don’t have her picture or a likeness of her – and that’s not important. What we do have, and what is immensely important is that we know how Solomon saw her. She had certain features that were more prominent (her neck, for example, was like a huge tower) – and he praised her and doted on every aspect of her. He lavished upon her compliment after compliment in some of the most scandalously and beautifully erotic language in all of Scripture. So it didn’t matter what Solomon’s bride looked like. And Jesus doesn’t care what his girl looks like – he knows she’ll be beautiful and unique and precious to him on his wedding day and for eternity. So should it matter, then, what my bride or your bride looks like? Maybe the most important thing is how we choose to see her rather than what features or accessories she’s sporting. She is our standard of beauty, not some airbrushed, digitally ‘enhanced’ work of fiction designed to pull the maximum amount of money out of your wallet. Jesus only has eyes for his girl – she’s his standard of beauty. I’m going to do the same.
Just a few of my thoughts. Let me know what you think.