Building Agape Marriages and Kingdom Relationships
As you look back over previous posts, videos and podcasts, there is something that I have held off until this point. I did so deliberately to emphasize the importance of building relationships in line with God’s Word.
As discussed in the previous section, God has given us this very clear blueprint on how we are to build relationships with and in Him. There is a priority order made possible only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Before we move ahead any further please understand that if you don’t get anything else from this book…don’t miss this. It will literally change your life and every relationship for the better if you will follow through with this understanding in line with His Word.
In giving the greatest commands (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31) Jesus was not giving them in priority simply because God is most important. That is true, but there is something else in the original language that makes all the difference in us understanding who we are and how we can most fully and freely live out our lives and relationships.
We cannot live out these commands in relationships in any other order. No matter how desperately we try we cannot love others until we have learned to love ourselves. And we cannot love ourselves and others until we first love God with all we are and allow Him to show us who we are recreated to be in Christ. Remember this is a lifelong process of maturing as Christ’s disciple.
With this new or renewed understanding, here are the three commands and keys to building agape Kingdom relationships, especially marriage, according to His Word. In building agape Kingdom marriages we then form loving families and can then build the loving relationships that make up Christ’s Church. (Note how these principles all flow from our discipleship relationship with Him).
1. Worship God alone and love Him with all you are! (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Mark 12:29-30) If we do not spend time to get to know, worship and love Him, we will struggle in every other relationship, including marriage.
Key – Submission is the key found in what we are called to do in honoring one another in relationships and particularly in marriage. Ephesians 5:21-28: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do 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.”
We must learn to first love God and, out of honor for Christ, we are called to submit to one another. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. This is not a command to the husband to make his wife submit. This is a command to the wife to willingly choose to submit to her husband because she has already submitted to Christ and learned to love God with all she is.
Husbands are called to submit in love and servant-leadership, literally to submit or surrender his life for his wife just as Christ did for His Bride, The Church. Again, wives, this is not a command to you to make your husband love you. It is a command to husbands to be obedient to Christ in daily choosing to love our wife because we have first submitted to Christ and learned to love God with all we are. This is more than just being willing to give our life for them it is that we should be living our life for them as we have done first for Christ.
Our first love has to be our love for God. It is from His love for us, and our growing in our love for Him, that we can love all others, including ourselves, which leads to our second command and key to more fully understand this teaching.
2. Love Who You Are in Christ! (Matthew 22:39: Mark 12:31) What is true in every other relationship is even more impactful in marriage. As we mature in our love for God, loving Him with our whole life, He is able to reveal more and more to us who we are created, and recreated in Christ, to be. Only then can we learn to truly love who we are. Remember this is the essence of our second key:
Key – Humility. Philippians 2:3-8 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Bold mind and added)
First of all, as we allow God to reveal who we are in Christ then we begin to form Christ’s Mind in us. The whole description of Christ shows a character of humility; and remember that humility is knowing and being confident and content of who we are in Christ so we can place others above ourselves.
Imagine what our marriages and all relationships would look like as we practice humility in Christ!
This applies to all of us, but husbands I don’t want to leave you hanging any longer. Now that we’ve read through what Christ did for His Bride we can understand and apply Paul’s teaching from Ephesians more fully when it comes to “laying down our life for our wife” as mentioned in the first key.
Taking a bullet is easy, okay maybe not easy, especially if we know The Lord because we know we’re going to end up with Him. However, Christ did more than just give up His physical life. The passage above describes in detail that the first thingJesus gave up was His lifestyle—all the glorious life He had with The Father in heaven.
Think about it. When Paul writes that we are to lay down our lives just as Christ did for His Bride, he fully understood that for marriages to be blessed and to reflect all that God intended, we husbands would need to lay down our lifestyles and place the needs and desires of our wife above our own. This has to hold true because had Jesus not surrendered His lifestyle in heaven first, then He could not have become fully God and fully man and His death on The Cross (what we always equate with “giving up our life for our wife”) would have meant nothing.
In order for Jesus’ life and death on earth to accomplish anything He first had to give up His lifestyle in heaven.
I know it’s not easy, but it’s good because it is what He has called us to and He did nothing less than model it for us!
Now we are beginning to grasp what love truly is and how we can love our wife, family, and all others, which is our third command and key.
3. Love Others As You Love Yourself! (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31) Are you beginning to see God’s design for loving relationships? As shared earlier, we cannot fully love others unless we have first begun to grow in our love for God and for ourselves. This should be paramount in how we make disciples. Teach and train first to love God, and love who they are in Christ so we can then love others and show them His love. As we submit to Christ and others, humble ourselves, and place others before self, we are developing the same attitude and heart as Christ, allowing us to love others with the third key:
Key – Servant’s Heart – we see this when Jesus washes His disciples’ feet and then instructs them to do the same for others in John 13:12-17. “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his robe and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Remember from our earlier teaching on this text in John 13 that this is the culmination where love (v.1), humility (v.3), serving (vv.4-5), authority (v.13) and now discipleship (vv. 14-17) come together. This is what Kingdom relationships are to look like…and the highest of those is Marriage.
Christ’s idea is that we serve Him by being the servants of other men…He says that in His Kingdom he that is greatest shall be the servant of all. The real test of the saint is not preaching the gospel, but washing disciples’ feet, that is, doing the things that do not count in the actual estimate of men but count everything in the estimate of God. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
Imagine once again what our marriages, families and churches would look like if we made disciples that loved God with all we are and above everything else, loved who we are in Christ, so we could love one another as Christ loved us. Our marriage and family should be integral as His Church, not just going to Church!
This is Christ in us and through us, as we love others in His Covenant Order: Marriage–>Spouse–>Children and Family–>His Church–>The World
May He find us faithful as His disciples to love as He loved us and as He instructed us to love Him and others–this is how the world can see Who He is through us and come to know Him. May it begin in your marriage (and in mine) and may our families and churches be blessed as we live and love in His Truth!
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Make it a great day and God bless in Christ!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – We can’t love apart from God. Our best efforts are rooted in self, flesh and emotions (because that’s all we know apart for God’s Spirit received in Christ) and those are always selfish. Only as we learn to recognize and know The Source of Love can we truly love.
Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) – 1) Take time each day as you search God’s Word and pray to ask Him to show you His love; 2) Find ways each day to show God your love for Him; 3) Find practical ways each day to know and love who you are in Christ; 4) Be intentional with tangible ways of loving others as God has loved you.