Delivered at the wedding of my brother August 3, 2012.
Every married person is a preacher. Every husband is a preacher. Every wife is a preacher. This is true because every marriage is a sermon. In Ephesians 5:31-32, the Word of God says, “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 [marriage] refers to Christ and the church. Marriage is because Christ loves the church. The love of Christ for the church is the permanent reality that every temporary marriage proclaims.
The wife is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. Husbands are not perfect as Christ is. At times they will lead poorly, they will make wrong decisions, they will sin. But the wife submits and follows. When the wife is selfish and seeks her own way, she is preaching that this is how the church obeys Christ. When the wife submits when it is convenient, or expedient, she preaches that this is how the church follows Christ. When the wife submits in manipulation seeking an advantage, she proclaims that this is how Christ is worthy to be served. Every wife is a preacher because every marriage is a sermon.
The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. The word of God says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” So the first demonstration of love is sacrifice. Jesus Christ loves His church so he died to save it. The husband cannot give himself in the same way. The husband cannot die for the salvation of his wife, but the husband is to live for the welfare of his wife. At times he will have to sacrifice his wishes, his desires, his plans, for his wife. When the husband acts with disregard for his wife, only seeking his own welfare he is telling the world that this is how Christ loves the church: uncaring for her struggles, weaknesses, or needs.
Christ loves the church in order to cleanse and purify her. The husband must seek the spiritual welfare of his wife. The husband must lead his wife into a life of holiness. The husband is to love his wife sacrificially, purposefully- for holiness, and the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church: grace-fully.
When your wife is overly emotional, moody, crying for no reason, and you get impatient with her, you are saying “This is how Christ loves the church: only when she’s got it together.” When the husband gets mad at his wife for not doing the dishes or the laundry, for ruining supper, he is saying, “This is how Christ loves the church: only when she doesn’t do anything wrong.”
You must not be blind to the sins of your wife, nor even her faults, but you must not let them restrain the demonstration of your love for your wife. When the husband loves his wife based on her performance, he is preaching that Christ loves the church in the same way. Christ is not a petty lover. Every husband is a preacher because every marriage is a sermon.
So it is not a matter of whether your marriage shows Christ and his love for the church, it is only a question of how your marriage shows Christ and his love. This is what marriage is. In marriage, God has not only called you to each other. In marriage God has called you to himself. God has called you to be preachers to a lost and broken world. Your message is a simple one: “Here! Here is how Christ loves the church. Here! Here is how the church follows Christ.”
Your marriage will only survive; will only thrive, as it preaches the gospel. You marriage will only preach the gospel as each of you preach the gospel to yourself. Every husband, every wife, must have a growing recognition of their own sinfulness and of God’s righteous holiness. It is only as you see the gulf between you and God as great that you will see the bridge great. That bridge is Christ. The more you know your own sin, the more you know God’s perfect holiness the more you will grow in your love for Christ and his might act of providing satisfaction for both the sin of man and the righteousness of God. As you grow in awe and amazement at what Christ has done for you individually, you will grow in awe and amazement at what God has done for you together. Preach the gospel to yourself at every opportunity. Never stop believing and preaching, “I am a great sinner saved by God’s greater grace.” For it is only in God’s grace that you will find life and living.
Max and Angie, I charge you to preach the gospel by your marriage. Angie, show to all who see how the church obeys and follows Jesus. Max, show to all who will see how Jesus loves and provides for his church.