What is the word for this season? This is something some friends of ours asked recently – I don’t really have much of a word for this season, but the one that has been going around S’s mind is this:
“Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5)
Since she shared it to me, I’ve been carrying it on my mind all day, but didn’t think much of it until this evening – when I sat down to read the classic passage on marriage from Ephesians 5. “Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives…” You know the one…
Now this is all great stuff, but I was interested to know more. I started by asking myself where this passage fits in the context of the book. It’s nice to read that I should love my wife – but why did Paul write it? Where does the passage fit in the wider context of the book?
Funny you should ask. We may find something that connects us back up to the word that we started with.
Eph 5:1 starts with a ‘Therefore’, and as a good evangelical, I was taught that you if you see a ‘therefore’, you should be asking yourself what it’s there for… (Cue groan)
The context for our passage on marriage really starts in Eph 4:17:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
All of the passages that follow are based on two simple commands:
Put off your old self & put on the new self
Really? That’s it?
Well, I guess it may take a little more work than that, but it’s a good start…
The important thing for me today is that all of Paul’s instructions that follow fit into the context of being made new – loving each other, loving my wife is part of my ‘renewed’ life in Christ – part of what God is doing in restoring us to Him.
This new year feels like a fresh start to me – God is making all things new, and something which S tells me is that this includes old things – things that are tired, that might have been abandoned.
My lazy approach to marriage might be one of them, and probably my need for control. It’s a good time to start laying these things down at the feet of the one who can do the best fix up (or simply replacement job) I can imagine…
If he can promise a whole nation a heart of flesh in replacement for a heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26), he can sure get me ticking over again in putting effort into this marriage!