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A Christian Home

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Artist Name - A-Christian-Home

Whenever a man and a woman get married, they are proclaiming certain truths about God. Whether they believe in God or not, they are participating in His good creation, and showcasing His beautiful design. It is a wonderful thing to see a good man and a good woman get married, start a family, and love each other all the way into their old age. Seeing a sweet old couple holding hands is the type of thing that makes even the most stoic among us go "awe!". It's good, it's beautiful, it's right – and it is all of those things because it comes from God himself.

But marriage is not just designed for our experience of love between man and woman, it is designed to showcase the love of Christ for His bride the church.

In Ephesians we are told that marriage is a picture of this greater love seen in Christ and the church. Wives are to honour, respect and submit to their husbands just as the church does to Christ. And husbands are to sacrificially love their wives, even to the point of death, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Paul says that these truths about marriage are a great mystery – and that ultimately it refers to Christ and the church.

Marriage has always been God's idea. He created it – it is seen in the garden – where the man and woman become one flesh together. And yet it is deeper and more profound still – for before God even created the world, He had planned to send His Son as the great husband to die for His chosen Bride. He has already done it – he has paid her dowry – he has saved her from death – and history is now marching toward that great wedding day. The marriage supper of the Lamb. The full consummation of God's redemption work when the bride will be spotless and every Christian will be in the presence of the Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ. History begins with a wedding and it ends with a wedding.

But in the here and now, how should we then live? You see, our marriages today are not quite like the first, lived in Paradise. And they are not quite like the last, enjoyed in heavenly bliss. They are lived here on earth – somewhere East of Eden, and somewhere prior to the restoration of all things. And in this place, we find the thorns and the curse from our sin can wreak havoc on marriage. So again, how should we then live?

Paul's answer to that is found in chapter three of Colossians. Really, he is speaking to all Christians in the church, but I am taking it as especially pertinent for marriage. Here we see that although mankind and marriage has fallen, that through Christ we can be gloriously redeemed.

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 3:12-13).

Before going any further we must notice what is at the root of these commands. Before we should try to put on compassion, or kindness, or patience – we must be God's chosen ones, we must be declared holy and beloved by Him. Before we can forgive one another for each other's sins we ourselves must be forgiven by the Lord. Our sin has left us all both unwilling and incapable of being holy. Try as we might, we constantly fall flat. We pursue self-help book after self-help book, we constantly try to tweak our techniques; but we can't sustain the commitment and devotion needed to love our spouse the way we know we ought to.

The only hope is to be found in Christ – in Him choosing us, loving us and declaring us holy in Him. We need to be forgiven and made right with Him. And amazingly, shockingly, we can be. God has made a way for us to be saved, to be redeemed, and it is by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

We, sinners, hear His call to come. Come to Christ and have all your sins forgiven. Come and find life. Come and be redeemed. And it is only then, out of that great salvation, that God picks up the pieces of our broken lives and transforms us. We are declared chosen, holy and beloved – and then and only then – we are called to be who we now are. We are to live out what God has declared us to be. We don't try our best so that God would love us. We try to live a holy life because God has loved us. He declares us holy – and so now we ought to live like it.

This is the logic of this passage. And just think with me of how this can produce a truly beautiful Christian marriage – a Christian home.

Two sinners, who have said I do, are no longer doomed to live a merely human-level, selfish existence. They are redeemed. Their guilt and shame have been taken away. They have new hearts, new desires for God, and a new desire to obey Him. And they are given the power of the Holy Spirit to live an entirely new life for God's glory.

And so now the Christian couple is called to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. What was once impossible, is now possible in Christ. The Christian home, by God's grace can be characterized by this kind of radical kindness and patience.

And the Christian couple can go beyond compassion and patience and kindness, and they can bear with one another and forgive one another, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Have you experience the power of forgiveness? More than a few times I have experienced the grace of God delivered to me by my forgiving wife. How can a husband or wife possibly forgive yet another harsh word, yet another exercise in impatience, or even a betrayal of trust? How can she let it go and love him? How can he let it go and love her? They can only do so because they know the sweetness of the undeserved forgiveness of the Lord personally. as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Jesus told us to pray this way in the Lord's prayer: and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Forgiveness is hard. But the Christian home is to be filled with it. The aroma of the home is that of forgiveness, full and free. No bitter aftertaste. Forgiveness, forbearance, patience – this is the atmosphere of the Christian home. All of these qualities can be summed up in a single word. A word that is often misunderstood. A word that is overused and undervalued – love.

14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Love, the apostle John tells us, is not something that we define or simply feel in a subjective way, love is defined by God himself.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)

Husbands, love your wives. What does that look like? It looks like Jesus Christ going to the cross for His bride – taking the punishment that we deserved – bearing the responsibility for the sins of His people. Love bleeds. Love sacrifices. Love puts the other first. Love is Christ-like. And here we are all called to put on love. Do you want perfect harmony in your home? Do you want a joyful, peaceful, home? Live in and live out the love of Christ.

The last verse sums up the Christian life, and the Christian home.

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All of life is opened up for the Christian. We have been freed from our sin and our shame and now we can live for the glory of Christ, doing everything in His name. In each of our respective duties as husbands and wives, and in every other duty, we can fulfill them, by God's grace, as we live in Him. 

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Saturday, 15 June 2024