Family Life Pictures Christ And His Church
By Dr. Norman B. Harrison
In giving you the privilege of a home, God has a purpose in view. You are to use your home for His glory and not for your own pleasure.
God is a great teacher. He pictures truth. What would otherwise be abstract, He puts into concrete form--something we can see. He uses the known to portray the unknown. He designs a tabernacle to reflect the glories of Heaven and of the spiritual life. He draws word pictures to make the commonplace in nature speak of the uncommon, even the supernatural. He makes the finding and restoration of a lost sheep or son picture the love of a Savior and a Heavenly Father.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the family has been likewise designed by God as a piece of picture teaching. After devoting the whole of Ephesians, chapter 5 to family life, coming to the close he surprises us by saying: I’m not just talking about the family, "but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:32). To be true to those words in everyday family life we would need to say, "We are not just living our family life, but we are picturing Christ and His church." Are we? What a challenge for the Christian home!
Head and Body Truth
It is noteworthy that this searching chapter on family life is part of the head-and-body teaching of Ephesians. This is the most intimate and inescapable picture-teaching in the Bible. It links the loftiest truth we know with the ordinary "everydayness" of life. Each of us lives in a body. The body has one head. The body in all its movements is centered in and controlled by the head. The head expresses itself easily and naturally through the body. They are complementary and mutually interdependent. Thus we are made to picture every moment of life in our body as the relationship of the church to Christ--"the head over all things to the church, which is His body" (Eph. 1:22-23).
Now we go from the human body to the family, which is presented as the proving-ground for this head-and-body relationship. If it is true it should be shown to be true in this select society, the family, brought together and held together by the enduring bond of love.
Wives to Husbands as the Church to Christ
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands." How shall you do it? "As unto the Lord." And why such submission? "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:22-23).
What an ideal for Christian wives! Such a purposeful home life is far removed from mere comfort and pleasure. But in it all there is not the least suggestion of inferiority. The reason for an attitude of submission is not personal but positional. In a head-and-body organism there is necessarily but one head for one body.
Thus the wife has a day by day opportunity to portray in her bearing toward her husband, what is inherent in the origin of marriage (Gen. 2:21-24), the rightful relationship of the church to Christ--as submissive as the body is to the head. And how sorely needed is this pictured truth in home life for a generation in which the church thinks of itself and behaves itself as an organization, ignorant of or willfully ignoring the head-and-body organism.
May God give to Christian wives the grace needful to play their part in fulfilling this, the divine mission of the family.
Husbands to Wives as Christ to the Church
"Husbands, love your wives." How love them? "Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it." And why should they so love? It is the nature of the relationship. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself" (Eph. 5:25,28).
Does the wife think her order heavy and difficult? It ceases to be when compared with the husband’s. His love is to portray in the home nothing short of the love of Christ. He is to love "even as Christ also loved." He is to embody the new standard required of all Christians: "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). It is expected of Christians everywhere that they measure up to this high norm of love; but husbands, being given a position that pictures Christ in the select sphere of the home, are peculiarly obligated to demonstrate a love that reflects the love of Christ. How we all fail!
The marriage bond is of such an intimate nature, as intimate as the union of head and body, that "men ought to love their wives as their own bodies." The love we naturally have for our bodies, the attention we instinctively bestow upon them--what a standard for devotion in the home! And what a challenge to bestow upon the wife a degree of attention not less than the husband bestows upon his own body. How meaningful is Christian marriage! How purposeful the life that ensues!
Children to Parents
"Children, obey your parents" (Eph. 6:1). Why should they thus obey, giving honor to father and mother? To carry out the picture teaching of the home. Children owe to their parents in the home what all of us owe throughout life to our Heavenly Father--obedience.
Parents must realize that the requiring of obedience to them is not optional; it is their Christian duty, thus to fulfill the purpose of family life and complete its picture teaching, namely, as children obey their parents, so are we to render obedience to our Father in Heaven. Spoiled children, disrespectful to parents, may never learn a glad yielding of themselves to divine authority. Hence the lawlessness of today is traceable to the failure of the home.
The Spiritual Secret
"Be filled with the Spirit," and as a result, "submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:18,21).
Thus this wonderful picture of family life is introduced. It is the key. If ever we need to be filled with the Spirit; if anywhere there is failure because of not being filled with the Spirit, it is in the home--the home where interests are so intimate and where selfishness works such havoc. When the Spirit rules--dominates the life--there is no room for pride, self-will, self-seeking. Rather, "taught of God to love one another," we readily submit one to another in the tender ties of home. "Be filled with the Spirit" is the divine provision for realizing His lofty purpose in family life.
– From Christian Victory.