Thursday, January 15, 2004

Spiritual leadership, part 2  

I received a lot of good feedback from yesterday's post about spiritual leadership in the home. Since my comments are currently non-functional, I thought I would share some of the thoughts that were shared with me.

From Irene

I was reading recently about the husband giving spiritual covering to the wife. It is speculated by various scholars that Adam was standing right next to Eve when she ate of the fruit of the tree. Gen 3:6b says, "She also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and he ate it." (emphasis mine) So in effect, Adam most likely heard the entire conversation, failed to intervene, and therefore failed to protect his wife.

The husband, I believe, has God-given authority to protect and care for his wife, which is why she is asked to "submit" to him. This protection extends to spiritual protection. Don't ask me how this works out in practical terms, because I'm not sure myself. But my pastor once told me how his father discerned something was not quite right in a certain church situation. My pastor said his mom didn't believe his dad, and even he himself dismissed it because his mother was "more spiritual" than his dad—and if anyone should know about these things, it would've been his mom. Yet his dad was later proven right. So the mantle of leader and protector is upon the husband and he is perhaps given special grace to see/discern certain things at certain times, to protect his wife and family.

My pastor also told me of a lady he knew who was attending some ladies' group. Her husband asked her to stop but she refused. Later their marriage broke up because it turns out that the group was a very gossipy group and it somehow poisoned her and affected the marriage. Again, as the leader her husband perhaps saw something she did not, but she failed to submit and as a result disaster occurred.

I'm not sure if this helps at all. As a consolation however, I'm sure many people are still trying to figure this particular issue out! :)

From Rey

Forgive me for being so long-winded. It has been something I've been considering, this idea of being a spiritual leader in the home (and then the Church itself).

Because, you see, in the very testimony of Christ’s life, in that He humbled Himself and gave Himself for the Church He was indeed in a servant-like position. He washed the feet of the disciples. Fed the hungry. Healed the lame. Made the blind to see. Accepted the scourgings, the spittings, the crucifixion, and even the separation from God the Father…all in being in the form of a servant.

In Ephesians when Paul illustrates Christ and the Church by means of showing the relationship of Husband and Wife He is reflecting the continual sacrificial aspect of the life of Jesus in regards to His Bride. This agape aspect did not rely on any worth or ill-worth of His Bride, but on the worth of His own love placed on the Bride. Any action or in-action on the part of the Bride did not affect the constancy of His love, nor would it merit His cutting off that love. There is nothing that could separate the Bride from His Love (praise His Holy name).

Therefore, one could posit that the love of a husband for his wife transcends feelings of hurt but is completely one that is self-sacrificial as an example of Christ towards His own Bride. It is part of His sacrificial love and His constancy in that love that He must provide the spiritual guidance that would strengthen His Bride. This would glorify the Father, which is the goal of Christ and should be the goal of all believers.

Knowing this (and knowing that the scripture expressly teaches) that the purpose of teaching is so that people may walk worthy of God and therein glorify Him. This is something which has amazing implications on every aspect of our lives—one which boggles my mind and constantly pricks me in that it is not fully evident in my own life.

If we are to give ourselves over to the process of having others glorify God (this is the very reason the gospel is spread) then how much more important is this in the very home, with the person we have become one with?

But how is this done? Is it done by beating up the spouse to have her understand the mysteries of God so that she may glorify Him? Well, if we are to be examples of Christ, we are to do no such thing. It is done with patience, with sacrifice, by example, and when need be by gentle words based completely on the truth offered in the scriptures.

What makes this so practically hard is that we imperfect men are not the perfect man Christ Jesus. Whereas Jesus would remain patient through His disciples constant mistakes, we lose our tempers and make mistakes. Women are, very often more patient, more kind, more spiritually minded, more other-minded. Why oh why can’t we just let them do this job of leadership?

God has set up an order in the church and in the home and He has something amazing planned. That although men and women are equal in what God has offered through the redemptive work of His Son, they are different in the roles they take here on earth. God wants men to stand as spiritual leaders in the Church and the Home and in a way personified by the very life of His Son. In a man standing and taking this role his wife will stand and take the role of the woman, helping her husband in the role which God requires of him, not with envy but with submission.

When we wash the dishes, and take out the trash, and clean the house, and fix the fixtures, and dust the cabinets, and wash the laundry—it is not to be done grudgingly as if to think "This is HER job!!" but willingly and as to glorifying the Lord…constant and based on the power of God and not on herself. And when we open the Bible to read it aloud before bed, or pray aloud at supper, or leave the verses on the fridge with a love note, or share what we’re studying with our wives, not grudgingly but willingly, we are glorifying the Lord. Christ did not beat the Church into submission, but the Church seeing the wonder and radiance of her Groom, submits and therein our own wives will sacrifice, and give of themselves, and support their husbands worshipping God in the very role He has supplied for them.

This thinking goes against the grain and fiber of our society, but wonderful thing it is to see that God knows much more beyond anything we can ever know. How wonderful it is that even in this Christ illustrates the need to worship the Father and the Father points out the light of the Son and the Holy Spirit takes us and empowers us to understand, enabling us to do, and putting in us the idea to practice. How unsearchable are His ways, past finding out. That He would choose to illustrate the Son with His Bride in such an amazing manner is both humbling and exhilarating.