Most of us are very familiar with Ephesians 5:21-33. It is our go-to passage for a healthy Christian marriage—the place where God parallels His design for marriage with His relationship with the Church. In these verses, Paul provides us with God’s blueprint for marriage. He specifies the different roles that men and women play in order to have a strong and successful union that honors and glorifies Him.
If we look at the breakdown of the verses, it’s really not that complicated. Simply put, the men are to follow closely after God’s heart, and the women are to encourage and follow their husband’s leadership. In so doing, both husband and wife fulfill their responsibilities in spurring each other on toward spiritual growth and intimacy with the Lord, thus strengthening their marital bond as well.
However, as well acquainted as we may be with this text, many Christians have a difficult time putting it to practice. Not only do we find that many Christian marriages are falling apart, we also notice that many young Christians today are willing to turn away from their faith in God, choosing instead to pursue a romantic relationship with someone who does not share in their beliefs. And the question we are led to ask is, ‘Why?’
Why are men failing to lead their wives? Why are women finding it difficult to submit to their husband’s authority? Why are young people making conscious decisions to reject God to be with someone who has no desire to follow Jesus?
Ultimately, it goes back to the individual’s relationship with God. How important is Christ to us? Where does He stand in our decision-making process? We sing, “Jesus at the center of it all’, but we need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Is Jesus the center of my all?’
Sure, we are frail human beings with many shortcomings. We are often driven by pride, anger, frustration, selfishness, insecurity, chemical imbalances, impulsiveness, etc.. There are many factors that cause us to do stupid things and make bad choices. But if Jesus really is at the center of our all, no amount of raging hormones or clouded emotions would supersede our love for Him and our desire to obey His Word.
As strong as our feelings may seem regardless of the circumstances, a person who intentionally places Jesus smack in the center of his or her life will not be able to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit within. Any and all decisions to quench the Holy Spirit would therefore be a deliberate act of rebellion, in which that person takes Jesus out of the center, and replaces Him with someone or something else.
That is a very dangerous place to be in. We have a term for that. It’s called idolatry. It’s an ugly word that causes many of us to flinch, and even get defensive. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all been there. No Christian in the history of humanity has ever been immune to idolatry, and it is entirely necessary for us to constantly keep ourselves in check.
Because the moment Jesus is not at the center of our lives, we are guilty of idolizing something/someone else—we are guilty of breaking the first and second commandments. Whoa. Yes, it really is that severe.
So think about it. In your daily life, your workplace, your church life, and your relationships, is Jesus at the center of it all? Does your love for Him outweigh your other desires? Or has your love for your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, children, yourself, money, possessions, or ambition overtaken your love for Jesus?
We often talk about God’s will. We want to know what it is, how we can be in the center of God’s will, and so on and so forth; but we don’t realize that God’s will is actually quite straightforward: He simply wants us. He wants all of me, and He wants all of you.
How do we do that? By putting Him in the center of our lives. It’s not always easy. There may be times when it gets to be painful and unpleasant. We may have to make sacrifices along the way and deny ourselves more often than not. We may sometimes feel lost, disillusioned, frustrated, and even alone.
But we can continue to do so because we know that there is no better place to be than in our Father’s embrace. We continue to press on in obedience, because as crappy and miserable as we may feel in the midst of emotional turmoil, there is a sense of peace in the depths of our soul.
With Jesus at the center of our lives, we can rest assured that we are likewise in the center of God’s will. It works both ways. As long as we keep to this simple principle and strive to maintain our daily commitment to Jesus, His name is glorified, and following His Word will not be that difficult. Passages like Ephesians 5:21-33 would not be quite as daunting as it seems.
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