Faithlife Sermons

Mitch and Melissa Vander Pol

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Ephesians 5:21–33 ESV
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit 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, so 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, 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 husband.
Ephesians 5:21-33

Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Vander Pol Wedding Meditation

           You guys have chosen a passage that is dear to me as it was Christie and I’s wedding text, too. I hope that it is one that you will come back to throughout your marriage. 
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit 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, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Mitch and Melissa, one of the questions that you have probably heard since you got engaged, especially as you have gotten closer and closer to this day is, “Are you ready?” Each of us that has gotten married or are leading up to the wedding day could answer that in a number of ways. Hopefully today your answers are, “YES! It’s here! I’m ready!” For some people though, maybe the answer for a time is “No, the details for the ceremony are not nailed down, the plans for a home afterwards are not finalized.” Others might give us a mix of “Sures” or “I don’t knows.” 
The question might need some clarification though, “Am I ready for what?”  As we have Ephesians 5 in mind this afternoon, hopefully we can answer that. “Are you ready for this?” Today hopefully “this” is becoming a little clearer. Are you ready for marriage and all that comes along with it? We have done all of our counseling sessions together, you guys have already said your “I dos” and your vows, so I hope both of you are ready. I think and trust you are, but I want us to think together about a few questions.
The first is this, are you ready to be something new? We heard towards the end of the passage, “The two will become one flesh.” The apostle Paul used a verse that was recorded all the way back in the beginning of Genesis, when God had created Adam and Eve and brought them together. I have a feeling that if I asked Sophia what one plus one equals, she might be able to tell me two. She would be exactly right, according to the most basic principles of math and addition, one plus one equals two. Yet God’s word tells us that in marriage: one plus one equals one. 
There is something new here. The relationship that a man and a woman enter into changes and puts in the past who they had each been before. What you two are doing today is beginning something that has not existed until right now. In your relationship up to this point, you have been casting a vision, we might say. What could it look like to be married? What kind of commitment would it take? Do we and how can we complement one another and live purposely? All of this leads into asking the question, “Are we ready to be something new?” Whether or not people have that mentality when they ask if you are ready, that’s really what we are pointing to. You guys today have entered into something beautiful, and yet uncharted in your marriage and your home. You together are a new one that has never existed. 
The apostle Paul wanted that to be clear, but he also gave guidelines for each person in the marital relationship. He addressed the wife first, and so Melissa, the follow-up question is, are you ready to be a wife? We heard two words repeated, which really sum up a part of what being a wife entails for you. Those actions words are “submit” and “respect.” In recent times, those have troubled a lot of people, and yet I think they make more sense when we see that they are linked together. It’s not a submission in the sense of do whatever your husband says without questioning if it is right or wrong. It is not meant to be as if you are on a leash, unable to think for yourself, and it causes you horrible turmoil. No, the submission is an action of love and giving yourself which comes almost naturally because you have a relationship with your husband in which you respect him. The love that you share mutually helps you to see that he cares about you. You are willing, then, to also follow him because you know he will care for you.   
When we hear it in that sense, understanding that submission is not meant to be this burden hanging over you as a woman, a wife, and a mother, I hope that allows you to live in joy. The end of these actions then is for you to have a wonderful life. I have learned of your love for your family over the last few months, and the intent is that family will flourish through a well-working marriage. It becomes a home of love and respect. That is linked to you being able to respect the man who you love and are marrying this day.
 Mitch, we ask the question for you too, are you ready to be a husband? For you the main word we heard was love. We might see it as being stressed even more so than her submission. The word love in the English and the Greek appears more times. But also at one point it said, “Husbands ought to love their loves as their own bodies.”  The original words there really mean more of an obligation. You are not just suggested to love her, but you are obligated to love Melissa. 
We have talked a bit throughout our sessions about what love means. It’s not just the fairy tale, it’s not just the romance, though I encourage you to carry that. But the love Paul was talking about really is the kind of love that Christ has for us, an unconditional love, a love that gives up yourself and your desires for hers, a love that cherishes her and provides for her needs. 
This is your marital goal as a husband. Each of you can still do things that the other may not enjoy to the same extent within reason. But the love that you have for her today and that will hopefully keep on growing for years to come, will want her to benefit. People say, “Happy wife, happy life.” There really is some truth to that! I don’t mean it to the extent of you not having any joy or happiness of your own—but if you can live in such a way that puts her joy and your joy as a couple and a family as a high priority, that is your call. 
We get to this point and repeat that question, “Are you ready?” and maybe it feels more like what we hear kids saying when they are playing hide-and-go-seek, “Ready or not, here I come.” That’s the truth for where we begin and where we find ourselves throughout our marriages. None of us were or are ready for all of this. Even with dating and the engagement, there’s no perfect training course. As we started with, marriage is something completely new. You are going to mess up. As you listen to your call as a wife and as a husband, and as hopefully you were listening to the call for your partner—there will be times when you do not satisfy these qualities. When each of you will not come ready to your marriage. 
That’s why we need to hear and keep the relationship between Jesus and the church in mind. The submission of the church to Christ is meant to give us joy in following God, the one who has already redeemed us. Yet we mess up. If we would trust and obey, things would go well—but we still sin. As you think of submitting to one another, you will find there are times where you sin against one another. Our partner can offer us forgiveness, can help us move on, but always remember that only Jesus is our Savior. 
That’s where we have the ultimate, the absolutely perfect love come in. Mitch, it is a high calling that we as husbands are called to love our wives. Yet we do not come near to loving as Jesus does. You are not Jesus, Mitch, maybe that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. And yet we strive to show that love, to care as best as we can. But when we do not offer pure love, if and when we put our wife through stress and tears—we must look back to God together. In him we find a love that never has and never will fail. 
Mitch and Melissa, you are as ready as you can be at this point. As you continue on into your marriage and your family, it is my hope and prayer that God will make you more and more ready to be one, to be a wife, to be a husband. But always remember that only Christ can love perfectly, only he can save. Follow the example of Christ and the church. Do not stop striving to imitate that which we have been called to. But find your greatest hope as husband and wife and together as a family in him alone. Amen.
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