Friday, March 04, 2011

Imitating His Exceptional Love, Part I

I recently spoke with a pastor who had a discussion with a man who was opposing the idea election on the grounds that God loves everyone. This form of reasoning is not uncommon and, when pressed for its logic, reveals some very strange implications for other issues of doctrine. Can it be said that God loves everyone the same? When we consult the Scriptures, we see that God’s love for mankind is distinguishable, such that His love for His children is unique and special; and Christ’s love for His bride reveals a unique fidelity and devotion that cannot be shared with another. For the husband, who is called to love his wife with singular devotion, such a consideration is no small point. Consider the following brief excerpt from  All Nations Under God:

The Exceptional Love of a Husband

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; Ephesians 5:25

When Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin, He gave the greatest example of theocentric love ever displayed. Our Lord's service of love to the Father therefore stands at the heart of every aspect of Christian living. Especially for husbands, Christ’s example of love is a strong reminder that no husband can love his wife well if he doesn’t love the Lord first. Therefore, Christ gives us the greatest measure of love within any marriage union; and by this example, the spiritual man must understand that he is to love his wife as an outflow of his love for God. Such a theocentric priority will make the Lord his passionate priority before any other.[1] The union of marriage must be understood with this priority of love – The husband is not to place his wife above all, rather, the Lord is his highest priority. Such a priority does not demean the wife, nor lessen the quality of love that the husband has for her. On the contrary, this is the highest quality of love that he can offer to her – the godly love of Christ. The implications of this concept of love are vast. The imitation of Christ takes on some wonderful connotations with this simple observation. As Christ cherished the church as a gift from the Father, so too is the spiritual man to love his bride as a gift from God. In imitating Christ, the spiritual husband will grow in his desire, compassion, and faithfulness towards his wife. The true believer holds dearly to the endowments of the Lord because of his deep love for the Giver:

James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

By this principle it is understood that the spirit-filled man will have a passionate desire for his wife because she is a wonderful and special gift from God Himself.[2] Therefore, the husband’s valuation of His wife is not based upon her performance, physical beauty or skill at cooking; rather it is based upon the gracious provision of the Lord who gave her:

Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.”

The spiritual husband is to love his wife in a multifaceted way, but his love for her must be God-centered such that he cherishes her in the Lord. Christ alone provides the valid measure for true manliness and godly leadership. Leadership that is patterned after the Savior’s love will nurture peace, joy, and growth to the family of God. Such leadership within the family, which edifies and builds others up, requires constant vigilance, and labor in the Spirit, as one follows the loving example of the Bridegroom of the church. [All Nations Under God, pp. 97-99]


[1] John 2:13-17.
[2] Gen. 2:23.