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Description: Onenesss in Relationships
Oneness in Relationships
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Would you turn to Ephesians 5? I feel that we should be faithful to the dear Word he has given us.
Even though I suspect we read it last Sunday, and I just didn’t get to it, yet I think we should it
Ephesians 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ
loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
“But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting
among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but
instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is
covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no
one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon
the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but
now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all
that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in
the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the
things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for
anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said,
‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
And Christ shall give you light.’
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time,
because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing
one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all
your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to
the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body,
and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject 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, 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. Even so husbands should love their wives as their
own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes
and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a
man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh.’ This mystery is a profound one, 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
And it seems to me the heart of the chapter, of course, is the verse that we’re doing, “This mystery
is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” And I think God has
something to say to us in that this evening. The whole business of loving your wife and Christ
loving the church is I think what God wants to clarify for us tonight.
I had trouble with part of that when I was 14, because I sat in that pew. (Maybe you heard this
recording, did you, from Raleigh, because I did say in Raleigh.) We didn’t have rented pews in the
Methodist church. That was what the Anglicans did. We don’t know what the Catholics did, but we
didn’t do that. We were too holy & evangelical [tongue in cheek]. But we all had our favorite pews,
and our pew was in the gallery. So that was at least an advance, because all the old senior people
sat downstairs. But Dad and Mom sat with their 2 boys up in the balcony, in the gallery. And that
was OK until you were 9, 10. But then as you became 11, 12, 14 and began to go for walks on Sunday
afternoon, and took other interests… So of course the guys and the girls tended to escape from the
family pews and – well this girl [reference to his wife] used to do her nails up in the balcony
apparently in her church. But they all began to move towards the guys on this side and the girls on
the other, and the fathers and mothers were left on their own.
I had trouble with it! I don’t know why. Maybe I’m strange. Maybe I was psychologically mixed up,
because of my mom or something. But I saw it as –it’s funny. It’s the old adolescent business.
But I saw it as a real test of loyalty. Yes. Did I still love my mom and dad first and foremost?
And a little almost embarrassed that I might have affection for anybody else except them. So the
whole business there of where it says, “A man must leave his father and mother and cleave to his
wife.” That was something that I had to decide very definitely whether I was going to do it or not.
And actually I never did it as far as the pew is concerned. I continued to sit with them right
until I think I went off to university, probably.
But the battle was, did I love them and them only or was my love divided maybe with the girl that I
had. And that was a little bit of a strain. And that continued. I at last sorted that out you can
guess, but that continued especially when I became a minister and came into the church; and
especially of course, then, when you marry. And in a strange way actually, I think Irene
sympathized with my difficulty, because I thought, well if you love your wife above everybody else,
then how do you love other people equally? And of course I was making was, I thought it was a
quantity of love, and it was concerned with, could I love Martha as much as I loved Irene. And I
felt, that’s what we’re to do. That’s what Jesus obviously did. Now, do we do that? And of course
as I looked around at churches I knew fine well they didn’t, because most people in the church knew
very little about real deep love of people, of anybody, man or wife or neighbor. But I certainly
felt that there was something had to be sorted out there. If I really was going to love Joanne as
much as I loved Irene, did that mean I was short changing Irene?
I mean actually that was one of the things this dear girl [Irene] undoubtedly endured during the 20
years or so of Campus Church, because really, Trish, I was never home. I was never home. I was
either counseling right up and – Colleen could tell you, right up from the beginning of the day
until the end or in the evening I was teaching classes or I was working in the restaurant or one of
the other businesses. So really, it was her and Chou [their little Yorkshire terrier dog] most of
the time. I felt – now as I look back on it of course, I felt it was dreadful. But she was just –
I was going to say “manfully”, but “womanfully” and bravely bore it.
And I was always with others. And I of course can’t think – I often thought of her on Sundays.
There everybody wanted to see me. Everybody wanted to talk to me. Well how would you feel if it
was your guy that was supposed to be fully in love with you? So that was quite a little difficulty
that I, of course, madly bounced over. How did I do it? Ministers regarded it often as a kind of a
scout troop that we are running. And if you married me, well you were an assistant scout master.
That was the kind of attitude we were brought up with. We were brought up very strongly with the
idea that God would give you a person, a help ‘meet’ for you. And her job was to help you in the
‘vital’ task of the ministry. And it was a wrong attitude. And I never realized that I had it.
And the poor girl, I think – I have not asked her point blank this, but I bet she sensed some of
So that in fact, it was the other way round. It wasn’t Martha not getting enough love. She was
getting all the love and the wife was getting… [read ‘the crumbs’] It was quite a little issue for
me there. And I think was very much for both of us when we began to see Christian Corps form. It
seemed to us we were very content with the fact that God didn’t want us to have children, and
obviously wanted us to do something else with our lives. In fact we had some close calls when we
thought we were going to have a child. And we thought, this would mess the whole thing up. So we
were settled on that, but the whole issue of, how do you then love everybody else in Christian Corps
equally with yourself? And the issue with husbands and wives: how does that work? Does it mean
forever if you’re single, you’re like Martha, you’re like Marty or Colleen, then you’re not loved in
the same way? So that whole thing was very unclear for a number of years.
And of course this makes it very clear, this word of God, that Christ loves the Church just as a
husband loves his wife. And we are part of the church and Christ loves us just as much. And we
would say more even than a husband loves his wife. And in the same way we love each other as part
of that, because the issue is not the amount of love. It is the position you are in.
And that was what helped me, because I thought, well what is different? And what is different about
a husband and wife? If the love is the same, then what is different? And I was put off the “one
flesh”, because it got into the ‘penis vagina’ area. And I thought, no. That isn’t what makes a
marriage. It isn’t sex and intercourse that makes a marriage. So in what sense is a husband and
wife one flesh? And it was a long time until I saw, yes that is the difference. The difference
between a husband and a wife and a husband and a sister in Christ is not the amount of love that you
give to one as opposed to the other. There is something different in being married. You are… It’s
not just that you are Mr. & Mrs. O’Neill or Mr. and Mrs. Overby or Mr. and Mrs. Leitschuh. But you
do become one person. There is a sense in which, like it or not, the other person is with you
forever. There is a real sense in which you are regarded as one person. And there is a real way in
which you are one person. Certainly you are one person in the sense that you get up in the morning
and there you are, the person next to you that they’re there all the time. They know everything
about you. So in that physical sense you are one person, your physical proximity. But as well as
that all your decisions are made in the light of each other, what each other wants. And, indeed the
whole direction of your life entails some adjustment by one or other to agree to do a certain thing.
So I began to see that it is true that a husband and wife are one person in a sense that we aren’t
just one person as we are in Christ. We’re part of him.
So it has helped me a bit to see some of those things, that a husband and wife are a unique
relationship. And they are, in a way, from then on as one person. And they usually act as one
person. But it isn’t that they give more love to each other than they give to other people. It’s a
question of relationship, not of amount of love. And I think, at last I’m beginning to understand
that in the body of Christ.
What I thought was important tonight was where Paul emphasizes Christ loves the church just as a
husband loves his wife. And a husband loves his wife as his own body. And Christ loves his own
body in the same way that the husband loves his body. And then Paul says, “No man hates his own
flesh.” And that’s true. I don’t [Pastor makes a sound and pretends to break his finger]. I
don’t, because that’s my body, and I’m hurting myself when I do that. And that wife, when I do
that, I’m hurting myself.
Christ? And then I looked over and I saw, Christ has that attitude to his body. And I am one of his
limbs. And I suddenly saw, he thinks of me the way I think of that, “It’s part of me.” I take care
of it as myself. And then I saw the whole weakness of the translation. Because the Greek word,
when they translated it ‘members’, they were using ‘members’ in the old Seventeenth, Eighteenth
Century sense. They didn’t have golf clubs. And they didn’t have golf club membership. They talked
about members or limbs. But we tend to think, “And we are members of his body.” And however much
we shake each other and say, “It doesn’t mean you’re a member of this organization,” because we tend
to respond, “Well I know it doesn’t mean that. It means we’re members. It means we’re members of
his body; we’re members of the church.” No, no. The Greek word is ‘limbs’. We are the limbs of
Christ. And Christ loves his limbs as himself. He loves his limbs as himself.
And then I saw that we keep on thinking, “Well I know God loves me. Well I know Christ loves me. I
mean he loves everybody, doesn’t he. So he must love me.” And deep down in our little hearts we
have that thought, “Yes, he loves me the same way as he loves the rest.” Way in the back of our
mind, “He certainly has a lot to love, hasn’t he? I mean there must be a time when his eyes aren’t
on me, and he isn’t thinking of me. But still I’m a member of the whole group that are going to be
No, no. No, I don’t say, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve five of them on that hand and five of them on the other
hand. Yes, and a couple of legs and…” I say, “No. This is my index finger on my right hand. This
is precious to me. This can do certain things that the other limbs in my body can’t do. I know
exactly what that can do and where it is and how I’m going to use it.” So with Jesus. So with
Jesus and you. So with Jesus and me.
And it suddenly dawned on me that’s what we mean when we say, “God’s heart and mind are infinite.”
And I’ll try to say this as slowly as I can. God loves you [looks at one person] as the only person
he has to love. And you [looks at another person]. You’re not believing truthfully if you don’t
believe it. Jesus loves the limbs of his body individually. And just as that finger I know, can do
certain things that this finger cannot do, so each one of us does something for Jesus that no one
else can do.
And I don’t know how much you — maybe it hasn’t caused you any trouble at all. But it did occur to
me from time to time, “Well, yes, I’m a member of his body. We’re all members of his body. And
heaven, boy there are going to be a lot of people in heaven. And I don’t expect I’ll get too much –
well he won’t have much time to give me. He won’t have time to give a lot of attention to me. He
has a lot to do. And so, boy, I hope there are some people that I know, or I hope I’ll get in with
No! I know it sounds ridiculous because we have such finite little minds, but God loves each one of
us in this room as if we were his only limb. And he has something to do through us that he cannot
do through anybody else. And he is a jealous God. And he is jealous over you, and he doesn’t want
to see you with someone else. And he loves us with all his heart and loves us as himself, as his
very own self. And so when anything happens to us, it happens – he feels it himself. He feels it’s
happening to him. And in heaven he will meet you personally.
See, that’s where we mess it up. We think in human terms. We think, “Well, boy, I hope there will
be somebody there” – We joke about Chou [the dog] waiting for us. “I hope there will be somebody
there that I know.” There will be, but most of all Jesus will receive us personally, because we are
part of him.
So to me this has meant much more than it used to. I had real difficulty with him bringing a
husband and wife at all, and tying it up with Christ and his body. And part of my difficulty was
seeing the old understanding that being members of his body is kind of, well, this member speaks in
tongues, this member does healing, this member prophesies, that kind of thing. It is an
organizational thing. It isn’t. It is a personal connection we have to Jesus himself. And he
thinks of us that way.
And that’s part of the reason we can love each other with Christ’s love. And with husbands and
wives we operate in a ministry that is peculiar to a husband and wife, to a team. But that’s the
difference. And in that way, yes, wives have a unique relationship to their husband. And a husband
has a unique relationship to his wife. But it is not one of the amount of love. It is one of
position and ministry that they are called to. But the greatest thing to my mind was the revelation
that God gave me that heaven was not this big impersonal crowd where you get lost in the crowd. But
this is him meeting you personally, and him being your own personal Father and you belonging to him,
his own Son, in a unique way. So it is really precious.
Let us pray.