Have You Thanked God Today for Your Vulnerabilities?
Blueprint For Marriage
Consider the following Scripture passages that use bride and groom analogies to describe Jesus’ relationship with the body of Christ:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5)
These are only a tiny sampling of the instances in both the Old and New Testaments that Scripture uses the first earthly relationship God created (marriage) to illustrate the type of relationship His Son has with the Church. Even Paul’s passage in Ephesians 5 about marriage that is the basis for Love and Respect contains the verse “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).
Could there be a better relationship for a husband and wife to look to as a blueprint for their marriage than that of Christ and His bride, the Church? I have taught for more than two decades that Ephesians 5:33—“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”—contains God’s instructions for a husband to unconditionally love his wife and for a wife to unconditionally respect her husband, and there is absolutely no better person to look to than Jesus for all that “unconditionally” looks like.
Unconditional Love and Respect
Perhaps Romans 5:8 sums up Jesus’ unconditional love for us as perfect as can be done: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Yes, even though we were sinners, Jesus still died for us, because His love for us has no conditions. It is given to us as a free gift, as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Yet, we are very uncomfortable with the idea of a free gift, aren’t we? Our mind-set is usually one of feeling the need to earn things, to try and deserve everything that is given to us. And this goes well beyond our attempts to try and earn Jesus’ unconditional love for us; it also affects how we treat our spouse’s gift of unconditional love or unconditional respect for us.
A wife wrote me recently and asked, “My husband doesn't like to admit his need for unconditional respect (without having to earn it). Any thoughts?"
The problem here is not in the wife’s willingness to show unconditional respect toward her husband, independent of whether he loves her as he is commanded, but that her husband knows that he has a vulnerability and need for a respect that he is incapable of earning.
He wants to be respected because he is respectable, not because his wife puts on unconditional respect due to the fact that he is not always respectable.
This is comparable to a wife wanting to be loved because she is lovable, not because her husband has to put on an air of unconditional love since she is not always lovable.
Needs and Vulnerabilities
But don’t you see the beauty in our needs and vulnerabilities? We’re not always lovable. We’re going to have days when we’re grumpy, when we’re a bit spiteful, when quite simply we just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and it’s all we can do just to get through the day without pulling our hair out. But in His grace and perfect design, God gave us a spouse who is willing to love us unconditionally, even when we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
Neither are we always respectable. We’re going to make some bad decisions in life. We’re going to say some things we shouldn’t. We’re going to lash out when we get angry. But praise God that He has sent us a partner in this difficult journey through life who can show unconditional respect, not always for our actions but toward our goodwilled spirit.
And most of all, we could never earn the gift of salvation from our sins. Romans 6:23 tells us that the price for our sins is death. And Ephesians 2:1 says that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins.
But all glory to God, though, “because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7)!
You see, if we didn’t have these vulnerabilities, we wouldn’t be able to receive these invaluable gifts from God!
Questions to Consider
- Why do you think Scripture uses so many bride and groom analogies to describe the relationship between Jesus and the Church?
- Can you relate to the husband who has trouble admitting his need for his wife’s unconditional respect (or to a wife who has difficulty admitting her need for her husband’s unconditional love)? How so?
- In what ways do our vulnerabilities and needs actually lead to receiving incredible gifts from God?
- What vulnerabilities do you have that God has provided for in ways you could never have imagined? Will you thank Him for doing so right now?