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Christian Husbands Suffer First

Christian Husbands Suffer First

“Why is it always on us?”

The leader of the wives’ study group looked at Lisa and me, explaining that after reading numerous books on marriage together, it always seemed to come down to the wives being the ones to set the relationship right.

All of these women had read many books on marriage. At best, their husbands had started maybe one or two.

The simple answer to this woman’s sincere, honest and fair question is that we men aren’t acting like Christian husbands. If we would meditate on what love, Jesus style, truly means as it applies to our marriages and families, we would see that we may not be the great husbands that we perceive ourselves to be.

Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). To love as Christ loved is to be the initiator as Christ is the initiator in His relationship with the church. We were estranged from God, but Jesus came from on high to bring us back. He didn’t wait for the church to approach Him. He didn’t expect that the bride, as the “relational” one, would be more invested in the relationship and plead with Him to come back.

Which means, men, that to be like Christ is to be the ones who chase after our wives. If things go bad, we think of ourselves as responsible for setting them right. We should be the ones having marriage study groups. We should be the ones saying to our wives, “We need to talk.” We should be the ones who buy the books, sign up for the marriage conferences, initiate getting away from the kids for a while or who research the best marriage counselor.

As part of His love, Jesus wasn’t just the lead initiator, He became the lead sufferer. He “took the bullet” so we didn’t have to.

This was Paul’s attitude expressed in Colossians, when he made the astonishing statement that the mistreatment he so often suffered was “completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul wasn’t suggesting Christ’s suffering was insufficient—not at all. It’s rather that Paul knew the church in Colossae was young and fragile, and (in the words of N.T. Wright) “it is as if he, as the leader of the church in that part of the world, is drawing the enemy fire on to himself so that the young church may have a breathing space, a time to grow.” Wright suggests his attitude, as he sat in prison in Ephesus (where Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians) is, “Well, as long as they are concentrating on me, then Christ’s body, the church, can grow until it is strong enough to stand on its own feet.”