In John 13.34-35, Jesus says,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I find it fascinating that Jesus tells us one way people will be able to identify whether we are His followers is simply by the way we love one another. The simple act of loving like Jesus did would be so unique that people would be able to identify that we are His disciples. Which leads me to the question: Am I loving this way?
We recently did a sermon series where we looked at this passage in the context of different relationships we have in our own lives. I had the privilege of looking at marriage and the unique ability it has to display many aspects of this love Jesus talks about in the book of John.
Jesus has many names and titles throughout scripture, one of them being, Bridegroom, with the church being called His Bride. This analogy is very intentional and in fact the apostle Paul uses this analogy to describe earthly marriage in Ephesians 5.22-27, where he says,
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
This passage is often used to teach about marriage because of its specific description of the purpose of marriage and the roles within marriage. Sadly, it has also been misinterpreted, putting the focus on the role of the woman to submit and powerlessly be under the control of the higher ranking husband. The miss-use of this passage to delineate roles in marriage has at best caused areas of disconnect and insecurity in marriages and at worst, led to the unfair treatment and oppression of women. However, when we keep Jesus in mind as the example of love we are looking to, we see that this passage is not about who is higher but rather who is serving the most. For servant leadership is what Jesus came to model for us, just as He said in Matthew 20:28,
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
In a marriage where both the husband and the wife look to serve each other there is no room for domination or insecurity as they are both seeking to get lower and serve the other rather than compete for who is on top and going to be served.
My wife Shelly and I will celebrate 4 years of marriage in May and in that time we have learned so much about what it looks like to love each other like Jesus did. There has been nothing more challenging or rewarding than being married. When we got married we knew marriage and commitment to unity with another person was a huge gift and responsibility. We did premarital counseling as an intentional step to get prepared and we continue to read many marriage books together. On our journey together we decided to establish our marriage on two principles: commitment to Jesus and commitment to change. We have done our very best to stick to these principles and we aim to adjust anything about ourselves to love each other well as long as it does not compromise what Jesus has spoken to us.
Our vision for our marriage has required us to be very intentional in how we do life, so that when people look at how we love one another, they see the way that Jesus loves. I really do believe that when we intentionally choose love in our marriages, the way that Jesus showed us, we can experience love to it’s fullest potential.
Below is a list of resources that have been really helpful for us in growing in our marriage if you are interested in exploring this in more depth!
- Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
- For Women Only and For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
- Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat
- Five Sex Languages by Douglas Weiss
Listen to the message here
Garrett G. – Associate Pastor