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Description: The Purpose of Husbands
The Purpose of Husbands
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
So that we all start with the same thoughts, we are on Ephesians 5 if you’d like to look at it. We
have gotten as far as verse 25 but we are talking about verse 21 particularly which is the general
heading of this part of God’s word. It’s Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence
for Christ.” So, it’s concerning our relationship with each other.
And now we’ve reached verse 25 which reads, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her.” And of course it makes very clear the heart of love. It means loving
the church and giving yourself up for her. If you love your wife you love her and give yourself up
for her. But I think we’re all aware that this applies to each one of us, whether we are legally
married to each other or not.
It speaks of our attitude to each other. Love your wives…. and the way Christ loved the church was
to give himself up for her. And so, the whole emphasis is on that. Love is giving yourself up for
the person or the church that you love. It has nothing to do with us getting.
I should say this before we get into the heart of the verse. If you reflect upon it, we spend a
great deal of our thinking time on ourselves. It hit me that we think a lot of ourselves and little
about the dear person who is all around us and pouring his gifts upon us. We generally say, “We
can’t just be thinking of him (Jesus) all the time. But surely if he is the overall loving presence
that gives us all that we have, it is reasonable to be preoccupied with him.
There are many differences between Irene and I besides one of us being male and the other female.
Irene will be much more outgoing and thinking of things outside of herself. I will be the
introspective creature that is thinking through everything. It could be that many of us spend far
too much of our time in that kind of introspection – thinking about ourselves, how the day is going,
how am I feeling, what am I going to do with this and what I am going to meet when I go into that
store? We think too much of ourselves and miss the whole wonder of the dear, bright person that is
round about us. So that’s just a thought for us.
As far as the husbands loving the wives and giving themselves up — have you ever thought of what
the real situation is there? We are indeed God’s workmanship and we were created in Christ. And
have you ever thought at all what that meant and why God created us in his son? I think you
understand what we shared before. God created us in his son virtually so that we wouldn’t die or
lose our lives. He did so virtually so that whatever we did, he would still be able to hold onto us.
He made us part of his son. So what he really did say to his son was, “Son I am going to make
billions of beings like you and me. I am going to make them inside of you and they are going to be
given the opportunity to see what life will be like without us. In other words, I’m going to give
them free will to choose absolute nothingness instead of you and me if they want. But if I do that
in a vacuum they’ll lose everything. So, I’m going to do that inside you so that you will in fact
bear the pain of that nothingness. You will bear the pain of all the things that you and I are not.
You will bear that pain in yourself. You will bear their sins so that they themselves may continue
to live by your life and eventually accept what we are.
And that’s what it means that Christ gave himself up for the church. That is in fact what is
happening. That’s what we mean when we say, “He bears our sins.” Sin is just living without God or,
as though there is no God. It’s experiencing all that God is not. If God is goodness, it’s
experiencing badness. If God is love, it’s experiencing hate. God had to give us the opportunity to
see all those things that he is not so that we would not be his innocent, unknowing children.
Instead, we would be willing children who chose and accepted what he provided for them. God allowed
everything that he is not to be chosen by you and me.
The only way that I know to describe it is to imagine that God experienced the worst hatred that was
ever shown to anyone in a German concentration camp. And that the most intense pain that has been
experienced by anyone before they were murdered by some madman, Christ himself experienced it. And
the greatest greed by the worst Scrooge that ever lived, Christ experienced that within himself
because one of us expressed that and chose it.
That’s what loving meant for Jesus. It meant giving himself up to us to do what we wanted with him
as long as we wanted to do it — until we ran out of steam — until we couldn’t keep going. Until
eventually we would see that is not what reality is. Reality is a loving Father. It is not all these
things that are not him.
And if you think a little about it, that’s the only sense you can make out of the continual story in
the Old Testament. I had real trouble believing the Old Testament in the early days because I
thought it was stupid the way that God would tell the Israelites to worship him, then he turns
around and finds them worshipping idols. He comes back and forgives them and tells them not to
worship idols again. Barely is his back turned but they are back to idols. Then he comes back and
says, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
I thought, if God behaved like that he’d get no where. But actually that’s it. Moreover, look at
your own life – isn’t that how it’s been? Isn’t that what we’ve faced? It seems stupid to us but
that’s the way God himself is. That’s how he’s chosen it to be. If you think about it, if he’s that
kind of God, that actually is the only chance he has of ever getting people who love him because
they want to love him.
It’s us that have the ridiculous idea that if I lock you in this room and tell you to love me that
somehow I can beat you into it. I won’t beat you into anything but a sullen submission just so that
you can escape.
The only way is the way God has chosen. That’s a little of what was behind a conversation that ****
and I had over certain things this past week. It doesn’t really matter the details of what God is
asking you to bear. It actually doesn’t matter whether they are just or not. It doesn’t. I may be
asking you to do the dumbest things in the world but that isn’t the issue. The issue is — is our
Father asking us to do these things and are we willing to do them?
That’s why I think this works with husbands and wives. If you don’t love (whether you are a husband
or wife, brother or sister) another person you’ll have no relationship anyway. It doesn’t matter
what they do. It doesn’t matter that they do what you want them to do or not. It doesn’t. Until they
come to want to do what you think is right there is nothing. There’s no life or relationship.
How could the Father watch his son be whipped and spat upon by the lowest criminals that you can
imagine? How could he bear that? Because He knew there is no relationship unless these dear hearts
choose to love me. So whether you are a husband dealing with a wife or a wife dealing with a
husband, a brother dealing with a sister or sister dealing with a brother, we are all in the same
It’s pretty close to the Quakers that accepted all kinds of harsh, physical treatment or persecution
and did not fight back. That’s pretty close to loving your enemy and responding to those who
despitefully use you in love. And it seems to me that’s what this verse is talking about. All of us
have to love each other as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for the church. He allowed
all of us to be made inside of him knowing that he would have to bear all the things that we did and
yet he would still love us.
So the few inconveniences that a husband or sister puts upon us, the few little inconveniences are
nothing compared with what Jesus and our dear Father has born from us. It seems to me that’s what
love is. It’s really giving up your own rights to have certain things – to have even what you think
is reasonable. It’s actually giving yourself away. That’s what it says, “he gave himself up for the
church”. You give yourself away. You say, “Here do with me what you want.”
That’s what it is — trusting that only God can cry “uncle” but you will never. Why? Because that’s
the final reality. That’s our God and he’s the best God we have. That’s reality. He’ll bear his son
to be beaten to death. I’m with you that it’s pretty extreme. But I think that it’s the heart of God
and therefore for us it’s reality because we have been made in his image. And whatever rebels
against that in us is something that is alien to him and to that extent nothingness. It’s something
that will not continue in existence—something that will disappear and cease. It’s something that is
a mirage and a deception.
It’s extreme but it is a way of peace in your own heart when you stop defending this and that.
Instead you say, “Lord whatever…”
In Belfast, Irene and I used to mention to each other something we knew existed. There were women
with drunken husbands that would get beaten on a Friday night when they came home. We grew up with
the knowledge that there were such women. We’d have our discussions as to what they ought to do
about it but we admitted that there were such women that bore and bore and bore and bore. They bore
the unbearable. And the more you see our dear Father the more you realize that that’s pretty close
to what he’s doing. And he’s doing it because he will be there after everything else is gone. He’ll
still be there with that personally, that heart and character. That’s what will remain, and that’s
what will be continued. That’s what is eternal. So aren’t we lucky? Let us pray.