Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Call of Death is The Beginning of Life

Joe Rosales
Greyfriars Hall
Hughs, Disciplines of a Godly Man

Here is a brief response to the Kent Hughes' book, Disciplines of a Godly Man.  As you will see, I focused on chapter three, which is titled, Discipline of Marriage.  I focused on this chapter because I believe that there is an obvious organic relationship which exists in the role of a husband, a pastor, and a savior, has been purposely ordained by God in marriage.  The organic relationship that exists between a husband, a pastor, and savior, is of great importance to our understanding of what marriage is and how we ought to live together as married folk.  The notion of giving yourself for someone else is the epitome of the the Christian faith, as much as giving of oneself is reflected in the person of Jesus.  As the one who gave himself to the world, and for the world, the man of God is equally called to exist in the same way.  His life is to be about giving.  Hughes' work touches on the interconnectedness between Jesus and marriage admirably, as he begins with the concept of union as the basis for all things practical.

Union is a term that Hughes gathers from Ephesians 5: 25-32, in particular, verses 31 and 32.  Hughes accurately believes that the unity of Christ and his Church is found in the physical relationship between a husband and his wife.  Hughes says about this issue of union, "Marriage ideally produces two people who are as much the same person as two people can be."  This is where the word union has its strongest appeal for Hughes.  He believes the union and communion of a husband and wife is merely an image of the same union and communion that exists between Christ and his Church.  And it is this union that breathes action into the relationship between a husband and his wife, just as in Christ's relationship with his bride.  I think the most helpful concept in understanding and applying the union/action paradigm is found in the chapter three heading Sacrificial Love.  Hughes understands that a husband is to live sacrificially for his wife because Ephesians 5: 25 calls for it.  This call to live sacrificially is the mirroring of the Gospel, which is: Jesus laying down his life for his Church, and then being resurrected to life, so that she might participate in his life, forevermore.  Yet, the basis for this type of union and communion between and husband and his wife, is only experienced if the husband is willing to be put to death for his wife's sake.  Just as Jesus died for his bride.  And if it is done at all, this death of a husband, it will be a demonstration that he loves his wife.  Hughes says this about the death of a husband for his wife, "Marriage is a call to die, and a man who does not die for his wife does not come close to the love to which he is called."  When I think of what it means to be a husband, the familiar fantasies of domestic cohabitation that a non-crucified culture embraces, comes to a sudden death.  These fantasies of  sexual gratification, an escape from my own particular loneliness, or I am now going to have the finest domestic servant, has nothing to do with the christo-centric view of marriage.  Therefore, Hughes is correct when he suggests that the call of death is the beginning of life for a marriage relationship.

Even though I am not a married man, the same truth of sacrificial love is inescapable for me as a pastor.  As a pastor, the call to lay oneself down  for the Church has everything to do with union and love.  The Triune God has set apart pastors to be Christ to his bride.  With this responsibility comes the need for a sacrifice.  Although Jesus has paid the ultimate sacrifice for his Church, the pastor is now called to live sacrificially for the same bride, thus showing his love for the bride.  In fact, the sacrificial pastor is called to maintain some of the same disciplines that Hughes calls husbands to cultivate in their marriages.  Such disciplines as commitment, fidelity, communication, elevation, and time/deference, are in some forms the by-product of a pastor who has committed himself to loving God's people. 

In the circles that we find ourselves, I mean at Christ Church and in the CREC, we hear a lot about this type of incarnational living.  But, it's a blessing to realize that the mysterious union between Christ and his Church extends and is foundational to the existence of an entire culture.  In other words, the hope and glory of every culture is union with Christ and the sacrificial love that proceeds from that union.  I think that it's good that we are reminded of these truths and begin to bring in the application. 

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