Monday, November 15, 2010

Conforming Out of Reverence for Christ

Image is compliments of my amazingly-talented and beautiful friend, Heidi :)

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

A girl very close and dear to me expressed a degree of disappointment after hearing a message on this passage. It wasn’t that she saw the passage of scripture as offensive or even really that difficult but rather she saw the passage as something she could not apply in her season of singleness. Although I can relate to the disappointment at times (ok the girl was me!ha), I cannot thank God for the revelation of scripture passages like this to me in efforts to prepare my heart for what may come when I do enter into a relationship someday, but at the real-life application right now! We need to see scripture the way God has intended it: in the light of our relationship with Christ and NOT in our current season of life, circumstance or situation. Think of Paul! He wrote the passage (inspired by God of course) and he didn’t touch marriage with a ten-foot pole! There is obviously something to be obtained from the passage no matter what your ‘status on facebook’ maybe!

I know I could go at this from a thousand different angles and we could sit an talk about it for hours however, I wanted to make this short and sweet and to the point (this is rare for me!) Right away in verse 21 Paul tells the church of Ephesus to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I feel like that verse alone summarizes what is to follow. When you submit to one another it’s not just to be nice to one another; it’s an act of worship towards Christ. This concept is repeated throughout several other passages of scripture (Matt. 25:36; Matt. 5:16;1 Peter 2:12) The passage that came to my mind as a parallel to this one in Ephesians is John 15:1-17. In this passage, Christ talks about Himself being the vine and we are the branches. A vine and it’s branches are one; together; connected; if you were to chop off a branch, you would be impacting the entire vine. When you accept Christ as both Lord and Savior of your life, you are submit to Him and ultimately, conform yourself to Him (Romans 8:29). This concept of unity is nothing new—glance back to Genesis 1:26-27. God created us in his image, “in our likeness” (Ding, ding, ding—Trinity passage: another topic for another day!). 1 and 2 Corinthians address this as well: “And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” (15:49); “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (3:18). Colossians 3:9-11 states this:

“9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”

In a culture that tells you that “You must define yourself! Make yourself unique! Stand out—get attention,” it is pure ludicrous to even think about conforming to the humble image of Jesus Christ. There’s a song by LaCrae that talks about being a rebel and conforming to Christ rather than the world. On this particular recording I have, John Piper is in the background preaching about what a “true rebel” looks like. When people think that they are actually ‘rebeling’ or ‘defining themselves’ and attempting to set themselves apart from the crowd, they are actually conforming to the world. HA somewhat of a dizzy concept! But going back to the passage in Ephesians, we read that;

“31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

Becoming one flesh means that you conform to one another and are represented as ‘one person.’ No, I am not saying that you loose all identity when you become married and you are completely changed into the person you married (although, I’m convinced that couples begin to look like one another do they not? Isn’t that crazy? HA, it’s kind of fun to look through pictures of couples and totally see how they somewhat look like each other).

The big take-home message that I was able to take from this passage more than the obvious submission to one another/wedding passage was that if you cannot conform to the likeness of Christ by submitting to Him as both Lord and Savior of your life, marriage is going to be pretty challenging! If you don’t experience the self-sacrifice daily in your relationship with Christ who is perfect, how do you think you’ll react when you try doing life with another person who is imperfect! So rather react like my friend :) to passages of scripture addressing the topic of marriage in disappointment, apply what it’s saying right now to your relationship with Christ. Allow the Spirit to conform yourself to the image of Christ by being submissive in areas you just don’t quite want to ‘give up.’ I don’t have to be married to know how difficult this concept of conformity is; all you have to do is visit a newly wed couple after the ‘honeymoon phase’ and you’ll learn real quick about the long and bumpy road ahead of them!

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