Jesus and the Church – Why This Relationship Matters in Marriage!

Written by: Kyle and Teresa Dillard.

Every morning Teresa does her bible study before I usually get up.  Several years ago I came down stairs as she was having her quiet time and she was sobbing.  My first thought was “Oh man, what have I done?”  She looked at me and said “I believe God is telling us to start a church.”  We both cried together because we were happy and scared all at the same time. 

This was in 2014 and we acted immediately!  We started Mission City Church in our living room and it has been an awesome journey.  Through the Covid Pandemic, our church has fed over 10,000 people and given away over 100,000 lbs. of food.  We’ve baptized a lot of people and I’ve led homeless people to faith in Christ in our parking lot.  We’ve sent out several married couples to do the same, to follow God on His mission of love. Who we are as a church is “A family of faith, growing faith in families.” Statistics say that only one out of every ten church start-ups make it.  We are in that 10%.

The Church and Marriage

So what does this have to do with marriage?  I believe that when God calls us to move He calls both the husband and the wife.  God would never ask the husband to do something and not call his wife or vise verse.  The marriage has everything to do with unity and mutual submission to Christ and His church.  These verses have been an encouragement to our family and helped us understand God’s vision and purpose for our marriage.  I pray it will do the same for you.

'submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 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 5:21-33

The Basic Foundation

Let’s start with the basics. Who wrote this?  A single man named Paul.  What does a single guy like Paul, who has never been married, know about marriage?  Great question!  The answer to that question is the answer to our problems in marriage and Paul says it in these verses.  It’s also the answer to our joy in marriage.

The question “What does Paul know about marriage?” comes from a perspective that marriage is ultimately, at its highest level and purpose, about 2 people.  A man and a woman.  Paul doesn’t have a wife, so how can he understand? If marriage is only about a man and a woman living together, then Paul is not the authority.

Let’s take a different perspective on the question “What does Paul know about marriage?”  He knows it is a reference to Christ and the Church and no one has been more in love with Jesus than Paul, and no one has more of a passion, calling and gift to plant churches, love churches, and grow churches out of their love for Jesus than Paul. 

Paul might not have a wife, but you better listen to him in this matter because marriage IS about Christ and the Church. When it comes to Jesus and the church Paul has the authority to speak to you on the matter.  I think this may have something to do with why our marriages are failing and so are our churches.

The "Me" Generation

We live in the “me” generation and there’s actually a definition for it. “Me” gen·er·a·tion is defined as, “a generation of people that are concerned chiefly with themselves, especially in being selfishly materialistic.”

I tried looking this up (who is the me generation?) and one site says the me generation was the baby boomers, and another says it’s the millennials, and one site says it’s the baby boomers’ kids. I didn’t want to spend all day on it seeing whose who, but figured that google doesn’t know either and so… we are all the me generation.  I agree with that.  We are all concerned chiefly with ourselves, and we are terribly selfishly materialistic.  Sounds like America to me.  Sounds like broken marriages.  “Me” marriages.

Paul says “nah”. Marriage is NOT about you.  And it’s not even about the other person.  Not ultimately.  It’s about something much bigger than you.  Something bigger is at stake and it’s Jesus and the church.

Marriage is a mystery? Yeah it is.  Profound? To say the least. Paul knows it. That’s why he said it.  Marriage is a mystery… and I am saying to you that it refers to Christ and the church.  Those are Paul’s words.  We should all go home and pray over this for a long time.  Your marriage is a reference to Christ and the Church, not just about you.

Defining the Relationship

Think of your role as Christ (Husband) in your marriage.  What did he do for the church?  Think of all the stories.  The amount of serving Jesus did?  The way he cared for people.  Definitely men can use this phrase in your marriage.  “What would Jesus do?”

The church was drawn to Jesus by the thousands because they knew “This man loves me”.  Think of all the people that have laid their lives down for Jesus.  Why? Because of what He did for them first.  Does one of you look like Jesus in the marriage? 

Think of your role as the church (Wives) who look toward Christ… in your marriage.  We come to church.  We serve those around us because we know we are the church, and we want others to know how amazing Jesus is.  We sing his praises.  We thank Jesus for what He’s done. We give our time, our talents, our money.  We surrender to Jesus.  The church does all this because we love Him, we respect Him, we honor Him. 

Does someone in your marriage look like the church?  Husbands can ask, “what would Jesus do?” and respond appropriately. Wives can ask, “What DID Jesus do and respond appropriately?”  Just like we do in church.  It’s all about worship.

We aren’t being very Christ-like, and we aren’t being very church-like either, in how we treat our spouses and how we organize our marriages. Jesus prayed for the church in John 17, “Father make them one.”  That’s the church, and the marriage is a reference to the church.  Father make us one.  Read it again.

'This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. '

Ephesians 5:32

So marriage is God’s design, and the design of marriage is that it is supposed to refer to Christ and the church. 

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