As Christ Loves the Church

Dave Boyle

No doubt you have heard about all the publicity surrounding the new Mel Gibson movie called ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Perhaps you have gone to see it yourself. In any event, you probably know that it depicts, in very horrifying and graphic detail, the last twelve hours of Christ, and the emotional and physical turmoil that He went through. The movie shows just how much Jesus suffered and endured to be our sacrifice and die for our sins. Basically, He gave everything He had.

OK, you’re saying, I believe that, and I’m eternally grateful to my Lord, but what does that have to do with where I’m at, as someone who was or is struggling with sexual integrity? Well, the parallel can be found in a verse found in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 25. ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.’ Too often the next part of the verse is preached on, the part about wives submitting to their husbands, and this verse is ignored. ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.’

One of the basic tenets of recovery is that it is always better to focus on doing something that is positive, rather than not doing something that is negative. The man who says, ‘I’m not going to drink tonight, I’m not going to drink tonight,’ usually ends up drinking that night. The woman who says, ‘I’m not going to eat that ice cream, I’m not going to eat that ice cream,’ usually ends up with at least two scoops. In our terms, telling ourselves repeatedly all day that we’re not going to get on the Internet porn sites after our wives are comfortably tucked away in bed, quite frankly does not work. We end up going there, and experiencing the guilt and the shame and all that goes with it.

‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.’ Go see the ‘Passion of the Christ’ and get in touch with how much Jesus loves the church, which, brother, is you. And then process in your minds and your hearts how you’re going to show your wife that love. It may be something simple like foot rubs. It may be giving up a Saturday to go to the kids games or take her shopping. It may be learning what her favorite flower is and getting her a bouquet. It may be sitting down a couple of times a week and reading ‘Every Woman’s Desire’ together. But if you’re going to love her as Christ loves you, you’re going to have to be prepared to give up everything. But the great thing is, as you emotionally and spiritually attach and bond with her, the power of that false intimacy on the computer screen starts to fade, and the recovery begins. Focus on doing something that is positive, rather than on not doing something that is negative. And if you’re single, this same principle applies. Learn how to relate emotionally and spiritually to other guys, and to women as friends. Loving others, unconditionally and sacrificially, is one of the greatest tools in your recovery arsenal. Don’t be afraid to use it.

What’s the next step after attending Every Man’s Battle? Join us (with your spouse if you’re married) at our next New Life Weekend.

The Task of Loving

 0d064150dcb1519378afa0369507b1d3[1]When we love, we utilize all parts of ourselves. You literally bring your entire being to bear toward helping and becoming close to someone, God or human. This is why love cannot be reduced to simply an emotion, a thought, a behavior, a choice or a commitment. It involves the whole person, investing our very souls for the sake of another, loving with heart, soul and mind (Matt. 22:37).

This is why loving is so costly. To give yourself to the task of loving another isn’t worth a lot unless there is a cost involved. Time, effort, vulnerability, humility, and self-denial, are a few examples of the price tag. Yet this whole-self love has great benefits for both the lover and the receiver. The one who receives is loved well, which is the fuel for life; and the lover’s heart and soul are expanded from exercising of learning this highest attribute of God. God’s heartbeat for love was so costly that he lost his life ‘ and even then lots of people spurn it. Yet he has no regrets about loving so lavishly.

As we are loved well, and respond responsibly to the love we are given, we begin to feel a sense of gratitude for what we are receiving from God and others: we love, because we are loved (I John 4:19). Our gratefulness drives us to be concerned about the welfare of the other person, and our loved state gives us a safe foundation from which to venture out and begin helping and loving back.

Altruistic love is the most mature love. It is a giving type of love. It doesn’t need the other person’s support, and can love freely without depending on that other. It means that we have been loved so much and have used that love to mature, that we are rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17). We are in a loved state, with enough emotional memories internalized through our experiences to sustain us. At the same time, altruists are never without regular, sustaining relationship with God and others in their lives. But they are deeply involved in things like charities, ministries and helping activities with those who aren’t in a position to give back to them. This is the love that constrains God to act on our welfare (John 3:16).

If this seems like a tall order in learning to love, you are right. And yet, there is no more worthy activity. Ask God to help you grow in faith and hope, but especially in love (I Cor. 13:13). It brings His grace and character into your life, both today and into eternity.

Are you struggling to love or to receive love? We’d like to help. Consider joining us on one of our Weekend Workshops or call 1800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) for more information