“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:31-33
You don't reach the ripe old age of 30 without having worn sixteen bridesmaid dresses to sixteen weddings. (Actually, seventeen, I wore the black one in two weddings.) Standing beside seventeen women as they vowed to love, honor, and cherish the guy facing them, as well as walking through countless relationships with nearly all of my friends, you learn a thing or two.
This morning, as yet another friend and I were talking about how to handle a situation with a guy she recently started dating, it occurred to me that there would be much more clarity in dating relationships if we really took the "profound mystery of Christ & the Church" seriously. That illustration is about marriage, yet, but shouldn't that be the aim of dating?
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Christ pursues us from the foundation of the earth. He doesn't wait until it is less risky or for us to show interest in Him. Because of this, the Church knows Christ's love for us is true and will not be depleted when the going gets rough.
Men, do not wait for a riskless situation, pursue anyway. Women, don't make it difficult for him to pursue you.
Christ never wavered in His sacrificial offering. He wept in the garden, but did what His Father asked Him to do. Because of this, the Church trusts that Christ's word is true and trustworthy. There is no question or doubt about His intentions.
Men, state your intentions, simple though they may be, right up front. Women, trust a man who does this and believe him without second guessing.
Christ spreads wide the arms of love. He doesn't withhold until we are lovable, understandable, or beautiful. Because of this, we can take our unloveliness to Christ with confidence. He sees past our blemishes and we are lovely because He loves us. We love Him because He first loved us.
Men, look past culture's demands for a perfect wife, love what the world calls unlovely. Women, you become lovely because you are loved first by Christ—rest in that loveliness.
Christ intercedes on our behalf. He does not stop going to the Father in our defense and for our petitions. Because of this, we know Christ will fight for us. He will not allow anything to break us beyond His capable sight, so we trust Him.
Men, don't give up on a woman because she is difficult to understand; seek the Holy Spirit for understanding. Women, be clear about what you need or how you feel, without making it difficult for him to meet your needs—trust him and the Lord's work in him.
Christ reminds us of our sufficiency in Him. He doesn't make us wonder if we are enough or too much. Because of this, the Church can trust that every difficult and beautiful thing will be used for the fruition of His kingdom—nothing is wasted, nothing is too much, nothing is not enough.
Men, find your sufficiency in Christ, not your girl's approval, respect, or admiration of you. Women, trust your "not enoughness" and "too muchness" to the finished work of the Cross, and know that in your weaknesses He is made great.
It is a profound mystery, I think, Christ and the Church, marriage, all of it. But I think it could be a little more profound here on earth if we really took Paul's illustration to heart.