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I Am Loved

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Jesus loves the church the way a groom loves his bride. He acts as her head, giver, sanctifier/cleanser, and nourisher/cherisher. This relationship provides a picture of what a marriage between a husband and wife should look like. The following sermon explores what it means for wives to submit to and respect their husbands and for husbands to love and lead their wives, the way Jesus would.

Ephesians 5:22-33

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Gender, Marriage, and Sexuality according to God’s Love

It’s a weird day. In the culture, there’s a huge conversation—debate. Almost every news story is, in some way, connected to it, about issues of sex, and gender, and marriage. I don’t know if you’ve seen this by chance; it’s kind of a thing right now. And meanwhile, in the church, we gather together as part of the greater culture with certain agreements and disagreements. And as we come together, we open the Word of God to see if God would have some timeless truth for our truthless times.

And in the providence of God, we at Mars Hill tend to go through books of the Bible. We’re in the book of Ephesians. As we’re in Ephesians, this is the fourteenth sermon of our sixteen-week study, asking the question: “Who do you think you are?”

And today, we’re going to hit what is perhaps the most hotly contested, heatedly debated section in all of Ephesians, if not the entire New Testament. For some, perhaps the entire Bible. And the question is this: should we be talking about gender? Should we talk about sexuality? Should we talk about men and women? Should we talk about marriage? And if so, should we be God’s messengers or should we be God’s editors? And that’s where we find ourselves today.

And some would say, “Let’s not talk about these matters. Let’s just talk about Jesus and how much he loves people.” Well, we’re going to do both today. As we examine Ephesians 5:22–33—you could find that place in your Bible—the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is going to talk about Jesus’ love for the church and what that means for men and women in the context of Christian marriage. And he weds those two concepts together in such a way that you can’t separate the love of Jesus from God’s intentions for married couples. Some of you are going to be very upset. And some of you will be very, very upset.

Read with me in Ephesians 5:22–33. We’re just going to read it and then talk about it. “Wives”—what’s the word, ladies? Boy, it didn’t take long, did it? One woman quietly said, “Submit.” So, not arousing, enthusiastic, joy-filled response. “Wives, submit.” “What does that mean in the Greek, Pastor Mark?” You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else. I’ll just read, OK. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the”—men, what’s it say?—“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”—seems like a lot—“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 with water with the word”—the Scriptures—“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”—or his body—“but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

He then quotes Genesis 2:24, the first book of the Bible. Genesis 1 and 2 is before sin entered the world. It’s regarding our first parents, Adam and Eve, and the first marriage. This is the world as God intended it before sin corrupted it. He quotes Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a verse that Jesus also quotes. “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.”

The big idea here is love. Love. Love. Six times in this short section the word “love” is used. In our culture, love means you get to do whatever you want. That’s not what the Bible means by love. According to the Bible, love is a great mystery. Paul’s going to use that language here and elsewhere in the book of Ephesians, and when he does, what he means is this: something that was previously unknown has now been made known through Jesus Christ. The people would use the language of love, but they would pour into it lots of misunderstanding and poor meaning. Once Jesus comes, we now see what love is; we now know what love is. Love has not only a definition but is walking around as an example.

So, here’s the big idea for the Christian: there is no understanding of love apart from the person and work of Jesus. It remains, for many who would still use the word “love,” a great mystery. They don’t really understand what it is, what it means, what it does. But those of us who know Jesus have the opportunity to see what love is and to see what love does, because it’s a mystery that’s been now made known in Jesus.

And some would say, “Boy, if you’re talking about gender and marriage and sex and male and female, that’s not very loving.” Some would even say, “That’s hateful.” No, it is very loving, and here it’s in the context of love—of love. Love as God defines it, love as Jesus reveals it. And what he says is, when it comes to love, we must start with not your love for your boyfriend or girlfriend or friend or family member or pet but start with God’s love for us, the perfect love that God has for us. It’s the pattern and the prototype of the love that we might have for one another by God’s grace. That’s God’s love through us to one another. And so he says that God’s love is shown for us like a bride and a groom. So he uses this timeless metaphor.

Have you been to a wedding? As a pastor, one of the things I really enjoy doing is officiating weddings for people who love each other. And it’s an amazing moment when the back door of the church opens and the bride walks in, and there she is in all of her glory. I love to see her face and see her joy and her smile and her hope. And then I like to turn, and usually the groom is standing to my left, and I like to see his face as he is seeing her face. The joy, the love, the cherishing, the affection, the devotion that he has for her—his face sort of says it all.

What he’s saying is that Jesus’ love for the church is like a groom’s love for the bride. It’s like a groom’s love for the bride. It’s this timeless, amazing, devoted, perfect commitment, covenant, and affection. It’s why you and I tend to love weddings. We tend to love great romantic stories. We love to see people fall in love. We love to see people stay in love. And all of that is the heart’s yearning for what is ultimately only possible from Jesus, and that’s that never-ending, perfect, committed, devoted, affectionate love.

And so you need to know this, Mars Hill: Jesus loves all of his people collectively together as the church—it’s like a bride and a groom. Now, in saying that, I know that you ladies will hear, “Oh, Jesus loves us like a groom loves his bride.” And that’ll emotionally be very easy for you to accept because, as the dad of two little girls, my experience is most little girls grow up practicing for their wedding, and they start quite young. They’ll get all dressed up in a sort of wedding gown, and they’re practicing for their wedding starting at a very young age.

For us men, however, the metaphor has some complexities, right? Like, how many of you men would say, “Yes, I feel like a bride, and Jesus feels like my husband.” Even the thought of me in a wedding dress, you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of alterations and I’ve never seen a wedding dress with a neck of that capacity.”

I would say the metaphor here is very helpful for the ladies. It’s like a husband and a wife are pattern and prototypical of Jesus’ love for his church. For us men, I want you to know that when the Bible speaks of the bride of Christ, it never speaks of an individual person, but collective and national. So, the church is like a bride. Individual men don’t relate to Jesus like a wife. But collectively as a church, we follow, submit to, trust, enjoy, live life with Jesus like a wife does with a loving, devoted husband. That’s the big idea.

Now, what this causes us to understand is that that longing that we have for a perfect love, an unending love, a devoted love, a generous love, a sacrificial love, a humble love is not something that will be met or satisfied by our horizontal relationships; it’s only possible through our vertical relationship. What I mean is this: only God in Jesus Christ loves perfectly, loves humbly, loves continually, loves unselfishly, loves generously all the time without fail.

And as we receive this love from Jesus Christ—we’re part of the collective bride, the beloved people of Jesus Christ—we think of the end of time. Revelation 19 explains the wedding supper of the lamb, that history will end with a ceremony where Jesus comes back for his people to love and bless them and to give them a kingdom home where they dwell together forever. We understand that kind of love and affection as we think biblically, and what that does is it allows us to stop using people and to start loving them. And when we’re using them, we’re often using them for the love that we’re supposed to receive in our relationship from Jesus.

And what oftentimes happens, particularly for those of you who are single—let me speak momentarily to those who are single. For the first time in the nation’s history, the majority of adults are single. People are waiting longer than ever to marry. The average woman is about twenty-seven, the average man about twenty-nine, and every few years that goes up as people are waiting longer to marry.

And what can happen is that you will have a job description or an expectation of sorts for a relationship that someone would love you. You hand it to a friend, and they fail you. You hand it to a family member, and they fail you. Or you get married, and you hand it to a spouse, and they fail you, and there’s this deep sense of loss.

Well, usually, that’s a job description that only Jesus can fill—that he would never leave you, never forsake you, that he would never fail you, that he would never disappoint you, that he would never, in any way, deal in a way toward you that was anything other than love. And what that does is it turns love into an idol, and then all of a sudden we’re using people so that we would get that love that we long for.

And here’s the good news: if that love comes from Jesus, that longing for love is met, we are loved perfectly. That allows us to start loving others with the love that we receive, and it means we don’t have to be in a relationship. We can be single, like Jesus was, and still be satisfied because the loving relationship exists whether or not we’re in a dating relationship.

It means that even when those that we love, particularly our spouse, fail us as they will, our love has not come to an end, and we’re not without love, and our identity is not one as unloved, or formerly loved, or previously loved, but one who is perfectly loved, continually loved, and still loved by Jesus.

It frees us up when we know that Jesus loves us. It frees us up to love him and to love others with the love that he gives. And this is all encapsulated in Paul’s teaching regarding how Jesus’ love for the church is pattern, prototypical, and source for the husband’s love for the wife—a husband’s love for the wife.

Five Ways Jesus Loves the Church

So, I want to talk about five ways, according to the Apostle Paul here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—five ways that Jesus loves the church. He says, “Christ is the head of the church.” He just says it.

As Head

So, the first way that Jesus loves us is as our head. The head is the preeminent. It’s at the proverbial top. That means that Jesus is in charge. He’s in authority. For our church family, very practically, what this means is it doesn’t matter what I want, it doesn’t matter what you want, it doesn’t matter what we want, it doesn’t even matter if we vote. The question is, what does he want? What does Jesus say? The church belongs to Jesus, and ultimately it’s to be governed by his Word. If he wants something, then that should be done. If he doesn’t want something, then that shouldn’t be done.

And one of the great errors that happens, particularly among church people, is they show up and they—“This is our church. I gave money,” or “I joined. I’m a leader. I now have a right to say what I want and get what I want because this is my church,” or “I represent a group of people, and this is our church.” No, it’s his church, so we’ve got to keep asking, “Lord Jesus, what do you want? What do you want, because you’re the head. It’s your church. You’re the leader. This is about you.”

And as you know, decisions get made in your head, so Jesus is the one who makes the decisions. Jesus is the one who leads. Jesus is the one who is preeminent. He’s prominent. Furthermore, this means that we follow him, and it means, as head and leader, he takes responsibility for us. This is what a leader is, by definition—one who takes responsibility.

So for you and I, here’s how it works: we sin against God. That’s not Jesus’ fault; it’s our fault. He didn’t make us sin; we do. But he comes into human history and he lives without sin, the perfect obedient life. He goes to the cross, and he substitutes himself, and he dies in our place for our sins. He pays our debt, and what he does is he takes responsibility for us. He takes responsibility for us.

So on the cross, Jesus is taking responsibility for things that are not his fault. That’s what it means to be the head. And this is very important because this language is going to get used elsewhere in the New Testament to talk about husbands and their families and fathers and their children. And that in every way, to be a headman is to be a man who is trying to, by the grace of God, be like Jesus, taking responsibility, whether or not it’s your fault. So, Jesus takes responsibility for us as head.

As Savior

Number two, another way that he loves us, we are told, is as Savior—that he is Savior of the church. And what this means, friends, is that we are sinners and we need a Savior. We’re not good people getting better; we’re bad people getting worse. This means that we cannot save ourselves. This means that religions do not save, and philosophies do not save, and spirituality does not save, and morality does not save—that we need someone apart from the system, someone who is unstained and untainted by sin, someone who is perfect to enter in and to save us—to come as a rescuer.

And almost every blockbuster film has some sort of savior figure. There’s a crisis and doom is impending, and someone comes from the outside, and they are the hero who saves the day. That story, that longing that so many cultural narratives borrow, is really the great, epic story line of the Bible—that God comes in on a rescue mission to save—to save us from sin, to save us from death, to save us from hell, to save us from Satan and demons, to save us from the wrath of God.

And so this is good news for us, and it shows how much Jesus loves us because it means that we can live with hope. We don’t have to look at our lives and say, “Who I was is who I am and who I’ll always be. There’s no hope or change for me.” “No, a Savior’s come and he saved me from my old way of life. He saved me to a new way of life. This Savior changes who I am, gives me a new identity, and he determines for me a new destiny.” So, there’s hope. We don’t need now to just blame others or excuse ourselves or accept ourselves or love ourselves because Jesus comes to save as Savior.

And number two, friends, what this means is that there’s only one Savior. There’s not a bunch of paths that lead to God. Different roads go to different places. As it is the physical world, so it is in the spiritual world. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life.” It’s all singular and exclusive. “No one comes to the Father but by me.” He alone is Savior. He alone is Savior. He says that he has come to seek and save those who are lost. That’s us. That’s us.

Do you know Jesus as Savior? Have you received his love? Do you understand that as head, he’s taken responsibility for your sin, and as Savior he is glad to save you from the consequences—even the eternal consequences—of your sin? All of this is demonstration of Jesus’ affection.

As Giver

Number three, as giver. That’s one way that he loves. It says that Christ loved the church and he gave himself up for her. Our world knows nothing of this. We live in an entitlement culture where people are far more concerned about their rights than their responsibilities, far more attuned to what they believe they should receive than what they should give. Perhaps the younger you are, the worse it is. We don’t live in a world that is marked by generosity. We just don’t. We just don’t.

The truth is, you can easily ascertain who or what you love by just following your money. Jesus says this elsewhere: “Where your treasure is, there your heart is.” If I, for example, go to a man’s home—let’s say he’s married and has three kids—and I pull up, and there’s a huge bass boat and ATVs and hunting and fishing gear and new golf clubs and a golf cart, and the house is falling apart, and the wife is driving a beater car, and I walk in, and the kids are wearing threadbare clothes, I know exactly who and what he loves. And I know exactly who and what he doesn’t love.

And he could tell me, “Oh, I love my family.” No, you don’t. Follow the money. Follow the money. You love yourself, you love your hobbies, you love your toys. You don’t love your wife, and you don’t love your kids. You don’t because love is not just what we feel; love is a commitment that compels us to act, and part of that action is giving. It’s generosity.

What do you give your time to? That shows us who or what you love. What do you give your energy to? That shows us who or what you love. What do you give your possessions to? That shows us who or what you love. What do you give your wealth to? That shows us who or what you love—who or what you love. Jesus loves the church.

Mars Hill, this is so incredibly significant. Whatever cause you’re into, in two thousand years it will be over. Whatever organization you are committed to, in two thousand years it will be over. Whatever nation you were a citizen of, in two thousand years it will be over. But if Jesus has not returned in two thousand years, there will still be the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been going for thousands of years. We’re the biggest thing that’s ever been. More nations, more cultures, more countries, more languages, more people part of the movement of Christianity than anything in world history.

And it’s not because we’re smart, because we’re not. It’s not because we’re well organized, because we’re not. It’s not because we’re always doing a great job, because we’re not. It’s because Christ loved the church, and he gave himself up for her. Just like a husband loves his wife and keeps giving of himself, Jesus keeps giving of himself. The resurrected, living, loving Lord Jesus keeps giving of himself to the church. Give yourself—here’s what I’m going to tell you—give yourself to what Jesus gave himself to, the church. Give your money to the church. Give your heart to the church. Give your time to the church. Give your life to the church. Why? Because it’s what Jesus gave himself to.

Some of you say, “Oh, see it’s all about the money.” No, it’s really not. It’s about the love. Jesus is a giver, and when you and I learn to be givers, it transforms our whole life. If you’re a giver, you’re a better friend. If you’re a giver, you’re a better spouse. If you’re a giver, you’re a better parent. Why? Because then you’re able to give your heart, to give your time, to give your possessions, to give your wealth, and you’ll stop loving things and using people, and you’ll start loving people by using things to demonstrate love to them.

We can’t do it now; we don’t have enough time. It would take the rest of our lives, so I’ll give it to you as a homework assignment. But think about it—what do you have that has been given to you by Jesus? The earth is a gift. Human life is a gift. The fact that we’re made in his image and likeness is a gift. His righteousness is a gift. Salvation is a gift. Forgiveness of sins—well, that’s a gift. Eternal life, the kingdom of God, the Bible, brothers and sisters—it’s all a gift. It’s all a gift. It’s all a gift, and Jesus loves us by giving to us.

As Sanctifier and Cleanser

Fourth, he loves us as sanctifier and cleanser. What this means is that we are dirty, and we are defiled, and we are unclean, and that’s the result of our sin. And religion would say, “You better get yourself cleaned up and present yourself to God. Don’t approach God all dirty like that. Get yourself cleaned up. Make some changes in your life.” Jesus would invite you to come as you are, and then he’ll love you so that you don’t stay as you are. He’s going to clean you up. He’s going to clean you up.

Trying to clean yourself up before coming to Jesus—that’s like taking a bath before you take a shower. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not really needed. I’ll give you an example of this. Any of you mothers of young children? OK, you can always tell who the mother of a child is, particularly a young child. And for those of you who are single or you’re married and childless, children are filled with fluids, all of which are terrible, OK? Children are like sprinklers. At various points, without any warning, fluids will just emerge unexpectedly in very impressive quantity. You’re like, “I have a thirteen-year-old child filled with eleven pounds of snot.” It’s amazing what comes out of a small child, right? Have you seen this?

As the father of five kids, I can assure you of this. They will sneeze, and they have no self-control or awareness, and they’ll just blow snot across the room like—it’s gross. It just is. And sometimes, they will throw up. Have you seen a baby? They don’t have really that ability to slow it down. They just go with it. There’s no resistance. And they will throw up across the whole room, like all over everything. It looks like a crime scene. It looks like someone was murdered, you know? There’s just—it’s gross. And have you ever seen a baby have a blowout? Have you heard of that term? I won’t name the son, but I had a son that used to poop his neck.

Some of you say, “How could he do that?” I don’t know. The physics don’t add up. The pounds per square inch is more than an air compressor is capable of. I don’t understand. Like, you pooped your neck. Like, that’s like a crazy jump shot. I don’t even know how you did that. But it’ll come out of the baby at such a, like a, horrific speed that it sort of bounces off the diaper and then slingshots up to the child’s neck. And I’m holding the kid like, “That’s amazing . . . and gross.”

Now, let’s say, for example, you have four babies. Let’s say moms are having a little Bible study or play date and there’s four cute little babies sitting on the ground, and one has a blowup or throw-up or booger-up or whatever it is, and something happens. Let’s say, then, one of the four women runs toward the baby smiling. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me help you.” We know that that woman is the mother, right? We know for a fact, right? We know for a fact who the mom is. You ever seen this on a plane? I’ve had a kid on a plane with a blowout, and there weren’t a bunch of people running, “Oh, can I get it?” Never seen that, right? They’re looking at you like, “Put him in the overhead bin. Put him in the overhead bin,” right?

So, you can tell who the parent is because they’re the one who lovingly is there to clean it up. So it is with Jesus, right? We’re the children of God. “Man, I got it all over me again. It’s up my neck. Oh gosh,” you know? And Jesus doesn’t, “Oh my gosh!” No, he draws near. God comes into human history. He’s willing to get his hands dirty. He’s willing to clean you up and love you, and “Yeah, you threw up on yourself again. Stop drinking.” You know? And he’s there to help.

He’s there to help because he’s Sanctifier and Cleanser. That’s loving, isn’t it? If you’re here today and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m really sitting in it.” And the people around us can tell. “Yeah man, you’re really sitting in it today.” Jesus is sanctifier and cleanser. He’s there to clean you up and help. He’s there to help.

As Nourisher and Cherisher

And then lastly, he’s nourisher and cherisher. A lot of this language of loving a woman like Jesus loves the church is about cherishing and nourishing. Have you seen a woman who’s unloved in a marriage? Have you seen a woman who is loved in a marriage? Have you seen a woman who’s not cherished by her husband and a woman who is cherished by her husband? Life’s different for them, isn’t it? Proverbs says there—I think it is—there are seven things that are so magnificent that the world cannot endure under them. One of them is an unloved wife. Just, the earth collapses under the pressure of that weight, that tragic failure. When a woman is cherished over time, decades, she flourishes and blossoms.

So it is with the church and God’s people individually. Jesus cherishes his people like a good husband adores his wife, and he nourishes his people like Jesus nourishes, encourages, builds up the church.

Now, this is super helpful once we realize how Jesus loves us, and this is the foundation of what we believe as Christians. There was a theologian. He’s not one I’m particularly fond of. His name was Karl Barth. But they asked him one time at the end of his life, “So, summarize everything you’ve learned about Christianity and Jesus.” He said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Christianity really is about open the Scriptures and learn about the love of Jesus. That’s the bottom line of what we believe.

Once we understand how Jesus loves us, that then frees us up to be single like Jesus, if we’re not yet married or if ever to be married. It also, if we are to be married, sets the precedent and pattern for how our marriage is to be organized. And again, in our day, lots of sort of “cowardly Christians” would say, “Let’s talk about Jesus’ love but not about marriage and relationships.” Paul says, “I have to put them together because they are inextricably connected, and one affects the other intimately.”

Here, we learn that marriage is for a man and a woman. Now we’re in the controversy. It didn’t take long. It didn’t take long. Even saying “man and woman,” we’re into another controversy.

See, the Bible says, Genesis 1:27, “God made us male and female.” The culture does not teach that we have sexual identity, male and female, but that God made us as persons, and then we get to construct gender. We get to decide if we’re male or female. We get to live out of whatever identity we choose for ourselves.

And the result is, it affects how we see gender roles, it affects how we see marriage roles, it affects how we see sexual roles. It affects everything. And this is because Christians and non-Christians don’t come to different conclusions. It’s deeper than that. They have different minds. The non-Christian mind does not think as God thinks. The Christian mind that is washed in the Scriptures and informed by the Scriptures, thinks as God thinks. So, they think differently, so they come to different conclusions.

And it shouldn’t be shocking to us when Christians and non-Christians disagree about gender versus sexual identity versus marriage and sexual activity. Why? Because we disagree on all kinds of things. This is just one other thing to put on the list.

But we do see here that it’s male and female, and that constitutes marriage, and that was created by God, and he quotes Genesis 2, and it’s supposed to be a process where a man leaves his mother and father, marries his wife, and then consummates his covenant. The two become one flesh. Paul quotes it here. Jesus quotes it as well. That’s the way it was in the beginning. That’s the way God intended it.

Some of you say, “That’s very controversial.” Just keep reading the book, almost everything else is. The question is, will we be God’s messenger or God’s editor? Before you leave—and I know this sermon will probably cost me hundreds of people—consider, with me, what the Bible has to say. And I would submit to you that in our day, things are not going well.

And for us, we would say that there are two basic perspectives. One is called egalitarianism, and that is that a husband or a wife can lead the family, and a pastor can be a man or a woman. That’s egalitarianism. Conversely, there’s something called complementarianism, and that is that the husband is to lovingly, humbly, like Jesus, be the leader of his family, the head, and that only a qualified man should be a pastor in the church. The role of deacons and other roles can be held by godly, qualified women.

And at Mars Hill, we believe that there are closed-handed issues that all Christians must agree to to be Christian. We also believe there are open-handed issues that people who are Christians can disagree on and still be Christians. Some will say that Christians disagree about all kinds of things. We don’t, actually. We believe there’s one God, three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Trinity, that God made the earth, that we sinned against God, that Jesus is the Son of God, fully God, fully man, lived without sin, died on a cross for our sins, rose as our Savior, is coming again to judge the living and the dead. All Christians believe that. We always have. By God’s grace, we always will.

On the open hand, there are secondary issues that we disagree about, but we’re still Christians. We still believe the Bible and love Jesus. What I’m going to share with you in second half of the sermon is really an open-handed issue, but I would say to you it’s among the most significant, important issues in the open hand because it determines who will you marry and who will you not marry. It determines when you marry, how will you organize your family and resolve your differences and make your decisions; how will you raise your children and what church you will go to and what spiritual leadership will you place yourself under the authority of? Big issues, right?

So, godly Christians that we love would disagree with us on this issue, but I want you to see that it’s not a trite, or trivial, matter. It’s a very important matter. It leads to a whole bunch of questions. Christ is the head of the church, and if the church is to love and submit to Christ, and so in the covenant of marriage, the husband is to be the loving head of the home, and the wife is to respectfully submit to him, what does that mean? What does that not mean? When I teach this, there’s a lot of controversy and conflict. And some will present an edited, unclear version of what we believe. By the grace of God, I hope to give you a clear version of what we do believe and ultimately, more importantly, what I am convinced the Bible teaches.

What Does It Mean for a Wife to Submit and Respect Like Jesus?

The first category of questions are under this main question: what does it mean for a wife to submit and respect like Jesus? I’ll read the Bible again just so you know that this is where I got the idea. Ephesians 5:22, “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:24, “Wives should submit to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:33, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

So, when I’m talking about a wife submitting to her husband and respecting her husband, I’m taking those two big ideas right from the Bible, and this isn’t the only place. 1 Corinthians 11, you’ll see this in 1 Peter, over in chapter five, Colossians 3. I could go on, and on, and on. This is talked about a lot in the Bible. What does it mean for a wife to submit and respect like Jesus?

Number one, it does not mean that the wife is less valuable, intelligent, or competent. Both men and women bear equally the image and likeness of God. They have equal dignity, value. In addition, it doesn’t mean that the men are more important than the women. That’s not true. It doesn’t mean that the husband is more intelligent than the wife. This has nothing to do with I.Q. It also doesn’t mean that the husband is more competent in certain things than the wife is.

Our complementarian theology is this—that, like, I’ve got two hands, and I’m right-handed, so this is my dominant hand. The right hand can do things that the left hand can’t do, and the left hand can do things that the right hand can’t do, and there’s some things that they both can do, but they work together in a complementary fashion, and I need them both.

That’s the basic idea of complementarian theology. The man is the head of the home and the leader, and the wife is intelligent, she is gifted, she is capable and competent. And when Genesis 2:18, I think, says she’s the helper, that means that she is actually more intelligent and more competent in certain areas, that he’s not, so they work together so that together they’re better.

Number two, this does not mean that men, in general, are to be ruling over women in general. It doesn’t mean that. We’re not talking about gender issues; we’re talking about marriage issues.

So, I’ve got two daughters. Here’s what I would never tell my daughters: “Men are in charge. Do what they say.” Could you imagine saying that to your daughter? In fact, that’s the last—I’ve met young men, so that’s the last thing I would ever say, right? That just leads to horrific abuse and the degradation and denigration of women. All we’re talking about here is not women and men; we’re talking about a one woman, a wife, with one man, her husband.

We’re not talking about, for example, if one of my daughters is given a professorship at a university. “Dad, should I take it? I’ll have men that I’m teaching and that report to me.” Well, that’s not your marriage, yes? “How about in the company, Dad? I think I’m going to get this promotion, but then there will be some men in the company who report to me.” Well, that’s your job; that’s not your marriage. We’re not talking about every single conceivable role for a highly-competent, intelligent woman; we’re talking about architecting the family like Jesus leading the church.

My goal is to raise competent, godly, intelligent, well-educated women, and then marry them to men who are up to the task. Sometimes what I teach gets misinterpreted. I’ve had people come up and say, “I can’t believe that you don’t want women to go to college.” My wife went to college. I have a college fund for both my daughters. My high school daughter’s already racked up college credit. I’m OK with college. I even own some books, and I went myself. It’s fine.

Number three, it does not mean that the wife does not have independent thoughts. In a complementarian marriage, you don’t walk up to the wife and ask, “Oh, so what do you think about this?” and then she says, “Well, ask my husband. Honey, what do I think?” She has her own thoughts. I married a woman; I can confirm this as fact. She has her own thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts are different from my thoughts. Any of you married men notice this trend? It doesn’t mean that a wife doesn’t have independent thoughts. She does have independent thoughts.

Number four, it does not mean that the wife cannot seek to influence her husband. I think it’s Proverbs 19:14 that says, “A prudent wife is from the Lord.” I think it’s Genesis 2:18 that says that the man needs a helper. This means that to be really helpful, a woman would be a prudent influencer of her husband. It doesn’t mean that she can’t influence him. Grace influences me more than anyone. More than anyone, Grace influences me. But she’s to be a prudent, helpful, godly influence. Of course a woman should seek to influence her husband, absolutely. That’s one of the reasons that God brought them together. He needs help, and she can be helpful.

Number five, this does not mean that the wife does not express her thoughts and feelings. Some women wrongly think, “Oh, so I can’t feel anything or say anything?” Of course you can. Just do so in a respectful way so that you can help influence your husband, rather than picking a fight, and declaring war on him, and getting into the crazy cycle. Those of you who are married know what the crazy cycle is. Just fire up the carnival music and go at it for awhile. Nothing gets accomplished, OK?

And so what we’re talking about here is, she expresses her thoughts. “Honey, I think that’s a bad idea. Honey, I don’t know about that. I feel wrong about that. Something in my gut says—you know, when you said or did that, I thought that was just not right.” She expresses her thoughts and she expresses her feelings. Again, Jesus did, and to be like Jesus, she will.

In addition, number six, this does not mean that a wife ignores all of her husband’s flaws but that she begins by encouraging those aspects of his character that are respectable. Ladies, let’s just be honest. You want to be married to a man that you respect, and you all, as you’re married to that man, find things that you don’t respect. And to help those areas that you don’t respect, you want to encourage those areas you do respect to help him to grow into the man that God intends for him to be. This doesn’t mean that a man is flawless and without sin. It means that the woman approaches him in such a way to help him become more like Jesus. That’s what it means to respect.

Number seven, this does mean that a wife sets a pattern for others to respect her husband. Let me ask you this: if Mom disrespects Dad in front of the kids, are they going to respect Dad? No. If the wife disrespects the husband in front of his coworkers, will they respect the husband? No. No. Women who publicly disrespect their husbands encourage others to disrespect their husbands. And this doesn’t mean you don’t disagree with your husband but you do so respectfully, privately.

You ladies don’t, perhaps, understand this, but when you disrespect, cut down your husband in front of others, he’s in a lose-lose scenario, because if he argues back, he’s being mean; if he doesn’t argue back, he’s being weak. He’s in a lose-lose. Men with men, it’s not like this. You disrespect me, we can talk about that, right? We can actually have a bit of a debate about that. But with your wife, I’m in a bad position. Either I respond and I’m a mean husband, I don’t respond and I’m a weak husband. The book of Proverbs talks about certain kinds of women. They’re quarrelsome. They’re a nag.

In the history of Mars Hill, I’ve emphasized men, and I’ve rebuked men. Well, in the name of equality, let me now do the same for the ladies, OK? Because we believe in equality. We believe that women should be offended equally as men, right? And some women—you’re a nag. You’re disrespectful. You’re quarrelsome. Being married to you is like a life sentence, and the guy’s just scratching on his wall every day, “One more day. Just one more day.” Proverbs talks about certain women—they’re like a dripping faucet. You ever tried to sleep with a dripping faucet? Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk. It’s what we use to torture people who are prisoners of war. A wife is like that. She just—boom, boom, boom, boom.

Some guys, then, they read Proverbs and they see the verse where it says, “It’s better to live on the corner of the roof than in the house with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” Guys are like, “Yes, I have camping gear, and I’m ready to apply the Word of God and just get my ladder, climb on my roof, set up my tent, and pull up my ladder.” OK? Some of you women are like, “I am not quarrelsome.” One for me, All right. One for me.

Number eight, it does help guard a woman’s tendency to distrust, to despise, to disrespect her husband. Let’s just say, from Genesis 3 where sin entered the world, the proclivity of the sons of Adam is to be cowards who just don’t follow through in their responsibilities, and the proclivity of the daughters of Eve is to disrespect the man and to take matters into their own hands. The result is the world in which we live, where marriage is not going well, and people are not staying together, and we’re in a real free fall and a crisis.

And number nine, this does mean that she takes her cue from the Trinity and Jesus. So again, we’re coming back to our theological convictions. So, there’s one God, three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. True or false: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—they’re equal, sharing all the divine attributes. True or false? True. True or false: Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity, the Son of God, he submits to God the Father. True or false? True.

So, you can be equal and under authority. That’s why a teacher is not more valuable than a student. It’s why a political leader is not more valuable than a citizen. It means that someone is leading and someone is deferring to that leadership. It’s why a player is not less of a human or valuable than the coach. We have these relationships all the time. All right, if the police officer pulls you over, you can’t say, “Hey, we’re equal and you have no right to write me a ticket. In fact, I’m writing you a ticket.” Actually, we’re now going to practice submission, right?

So, here’s the way it works: Jesus is the Son of God, and the Bible that the Father sent the Son. Jesus says, while on the earth, things like, “I’m not here to just do whatever I want. I’m here to do what the Father sent me to do.” He says, “I don’t just say whatever I want to say. I say what the Father tells me to say.” Jesus, in fact, tells us to pray this way: “Your will be done.” That’s submission.

In the Garden of Gethsemane before he is to be crucified, the Lord Jesus has this anguish-filled prayer to the Father: “If it be possible to remove this cup, this cup of suffering, then do so, but not my will, your will be done. Your will be done.” Ladies, to respect and submit is to be like Jesus—is to be like Jesus. You want to be like Jesus? That’s one of the ways that we learn to be like Jesus. How about the questions for the men?

What Does It Mean for a Husband to Love and Lead Like Jesus?

Next category of questions. What does it mean for a husband to love and lead like Jesus? It says he’s the head—that’s the leader—and to love his wife as Christ loves the church. The word “love” appears here six times. What does it mean? Let me start with this very sober point for all of you men—all of you men. If God should bless you with a wife, the question is not, “Are you the head of the home?” The question is, “Are you a good or a bad head of the home?” Do you understand the difference?

Here it says, “Christ is the head of the church.” Who’s the head of the church? Christ. We’re not going to vote on that. It doesn’t matter what the CNN poll says regarding that. Even if we should all decide Christ isn’t the head of the church, guess what? He is, because God voted, and that’s the only vote that matters. As Christ is the head of the church, it says, the husband is the head of the wife—plain and simple.

So, if you’re at Mars Hill and you’re a guy who’s not loving his wife, not investing his wife, not devoted to his wife, and you claim to be a Christian, you come in and meet, you can’t say something like, “Well, we decided I won’t be the head of the household.” You don’t get to vote. God already voted. The question is, “Are you a good head or are you a bad head?” not “Are you the head?” This is an additional burden that goes on the backs of men. I want you to feel that. Whoa, there’s an additional burden there.

It’s why, though Eve sinned first in Genesis 3, God comes asking Adam, “Where are you?” Adam couldn’t look at God and say, “Hey, we voted and I’m not the head of the household.” God would say, “I voted and you are.” You’re responsible. Again, that’s what it means to be the head. You’re responsible. How do you know whether or not a man is a good head of the home? Well, he’s not a bully. He loves his wife as Christ loved the church. That means that she will be growing and flourishing under his loving leadership.

So, number one, the question is not, “Are you the head?” but “Are you a good or bad head?” For you single men, you need to know this: we are in a day when men are pathetic. For the first time in the nation’s history, the majority of children born to young women are born out of wedlock. For the first time in the nation’s history, young women are more likely than young men to be in college, to be in church, to be in the workforce, and even have a driver’s license. We live in a day when men are acting like boys even though they are men, and they’re mooching off their mothers, and they’re mooching off their girlfriends, and they’re abandoning their responsibilities, and it’s a fool’s parade, but there’s no punch line for the joke.

And so one of our great values at Mars Hill is that men are to take responsibility, as Christ did, and they are to first take responsibility for themselves, and then they can marry, and then they can consummate their covenant and devote their life to loving their wife. If you’re here and you disagree with that, go home and study the Scriptures and ask yourself, “Do I disagree with God?”

And for those of you who would go searching for scholars who would tell you that you can do whatever you please, are you not just a rebellious, stiff-necked, hardhearted kid who, when Dad says no, goes to find anybody, anywhere, anything, anywhere that would allow them to be in rebellion. Men, there is a burden that God places on us, and I want you to feel it.

And some of you single men, you think, “Boy, I’m going to grow up, I’m going to get married, and that’ll make me a man.” No, it won’t. Marriage is for men. It’s not for boys. And boys who get married, they don’t become men; they hurt women and children. That’s what they do.

Number two, men, we are not the highest authority. In authority over us are the elders of the church. So, if you’re being a blockhead, they may have to talk to you. Above us is the government. We break the law, we’re going to jail, restraining order for domestic violence, things like that. We submit to higher authority of government. It means there’s God’s Word above us. We’re under the authority of Scripture. Above it all is the resurrected ruling and reigning Lord Jesus. We’re not the highest authority, men. We’re down that totem pole. We have delegated authority, and it is to love women and children.

Number three, men, we are to love our wife, not just marriage. Some of you single men, you have a script in your mind of what marriage will look like, and you’re just trying to find a woman that you can hand the script to so that she’ll read the lines and play the role because you love marriage. But it’s not that we are to love marriage, we’re to love our wife. You understand the difference? You meet a lot of single guys like, “I can’t wait to get married!” No, the whole goal is not to get married. The goal is to love your wife as Christ loved the church. It’s easy to get married. It’s really hard to love your wife as Christ loved the church.

Any married guys found that to be true? You can put a suit on, smile, say “I do,” sign a form. That was easy. Love your wife as Christ loved the church for fifty years. That’s a little bit of work. And some men love the idea of, “Oh, I get to live with somebody, and I get to sleep with somebody.” They don’t love the idea of loving that woman.

In addition, number four, your most important human friendship is with your wife. Of course, our friendship with Jesus is our most important relationship, but our most important human friendship is with our wife. When Paul says repeatedly, “Husbands, love your wives,” what he’s talking about, I think, is friendship. Grace and I get into this in “Real Marriage”—I’ll visit it briefly—but it’s friendship.

Sometimes we’re like, “I work hard and I put food on the table. I’m a loving husband.” Well, let’s ask your wife if she feels whether or not you’re a good friend. Because a little previously, in Ephesians 5:21, where it says to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, the husband, then, gets to say, “That wasn’t very respectful,” and the wife gets to say, “That wasn’t very loving,” and they have to listen to one another and learn from one another so that she can grow to be more respectful and he can grow to be more loving. Are you good friends? Are you good friends?

There are seasons where I’ve not been a good friend to Grace, and I’ve had to repent of that and apologize to her, where I get very selfish. And I don’t want to love her; I want her to help me. But really, the essence, I think, of marriage is friendship. Friends hang in there. Friends have fun together. Friends work through the hard times. Grace and I like to talk about there are certain marriages that are back-to-back. They’re adversarial and acrimonious. They don’t get along. Many marriages, especially those that are Christian, are shoulder-to-shoulder. They’re roommates but not soulmates. They work hard for the family, work hard in the ministry, work hard for the business, but they’re not really friends.

The best marriages have a lot of face-to-face. They know one another, they love one another, they work out their differences, they make memories together. I can’t tell you how important the friendship is. That’s how you love one another.

I met Grace at seventeen. On March 12th, we had the twenty-fifth anniversary of our first date. One of my life goals is to be an increasingly better friend to Grace, to be the best friend she’s ever had, because she’s the best friend I’ve ever had. I like being with her. I like holding her hand. I like making memories with her. I was there in her teens, her twenties, her thirties. I’m there in her forties. I want to be there until we’re in our eighties, and I want us to be friends, holding hands, making memories, having fun, having worked through whatever comes but getting to the grace of God on the other side. Let me just impress upon you men, take responsibility for the well-being of the friendship in the marriage.

Number five, love your wife and not just what you hope she will become. “Oh, if she would lose weight. Oh, if she would learn that. Oh, if she’d get that skill. Oh, if she’d try that. Oh, if she’d change in that way then I’d be so loving toward—” No. That’s not how Jesus is with us. Jesus doesn’t come to us and say, “Here’s a list of things that if you accomplish, then I’ll have affection toward you.” Jesus comes and says, “I’m going to love you, and my love is going to change you.” Don’t love who your wife can be; love who your wife is and see who she becomes.

Number six, love your wife, whatever comes your way. This is the difference between a job and a covenant. In a job, they give you a list. You have to do these things. As long as you do those things, you’ve fulfilled your duty. In the covenant of marriage, God does not give us a list. In the Scriptures, he gives us some things, but ultimately, the big thing is to love your wife as Christ loved the church. You can’t say, “I didn’t sign up for cancer. That wasn’t in the job—” No, it said “Love your wife.” Now she’s got cancer, so love your wife with cancer. “Well, no I wanted to have kids, and now she’s infertile, and we can’t have kids. I didn’t sign up for that.” No, no, love your wife, who’s infertile, as Christ loves the church.

See, what happens is some of us want to reduce marriage down to a list of duties, and the big overarching duty is, husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church. She may get cancer, she may get sick, she may be infertile, her extended family might blow up. All kinds of things can happen.

Number seven, men, we have to be tough and tender to love our wife as Christ loved the church. Christ is tough with false teachers, heretics, those who would come to hurt the church, and he’s very tender with the people of God. We need to be tough for our family and tender with our family. The guys who are only tough abuse their family. The guys who are only tender allow others to abuse their family.

Number eight, as the family leader, men, we take responsibility for the well-being of the family. We take responsibility for the well-being of the family, so you can’t just look at your wife and say, “You really need to get that together.” You need to be involved. You can’t just look at your kids and say, “That’s something you’ve got to work on. Go fix that.” You need to get involved. And this includes even when your kids get older.

One of the most foolish things I hear from even Christian men is, “Well, my daughter’s nineteen. She went off to college, she’s drinking a lot, dating a total idiot and moved in with him. But she’s an adult, and who am I to get involved?” You’re the head of the household. You sit her down and say, “Honey, I love you, and you’re my responsibility, so I dumped him.” I think that’s a good role for a father to play—to be involved, to be involved with the wife, to be involved with the kids—because it’s his responsibility.

I know that some men can be overbearing and take this too far, but let me just say, in our day, that’s probably not the risk. The problem today is not, “Men are going too far being responsible for the well-being of their women and children. We need to back them off. Those guys are just too involved.”

Number nine, she is a garden; you are the gardener. She is a garden; you are the gardener. In Psalms, it says that a wife with children who is loved will be like a fruitful vine. Do you love a good garden? How many of you love a good garden? How many of you don’t really love gardening?

See, most of us love a good garden. We don’t have one. “I don’t really like gardening because gardening is a lot of work. It’s a year-round job, at least according to what others have told me.” In 1 Corinthians 11, it says that the woman is the glory of the man. Another way of saying it is, she reflects who he is and what he does. Another way of saying it is, he’s a gardener, she’s a garden. Some of you guys would say, “Man, there’s a lot of weeds at my house.” You’re the gardener. “Man, there’s a lot of rotten fruit at my house.” You’re the gardener. You’re the gardener. What you don’t need is another garden. You need to be a better gardener.

See, there is no patch of grass where weeds will never grow. The best thing is to love your wife as Christ loved the church—to be a good gardener and to pull up whatever weeds come, to nourish, to cultivate, to cherish your wife, and if God should grace you, the children that God gives you. And then, increasingly over time, your home will become more and more like a fruitful garden where you’re glad to be because there’s life, and health, and joy. But it means that the work never ends, just like a gardener’s work never ends.

For those of you who are married, I want you to think and pray on these things. For those of you who are single, 90-plus percent of you will marry. Ladies, don’t marry a man who doesn’t love you. Don’t marry a man who doesn’t love Jesus. Don’t marry a man you don’t really respect. Don’t marry a man you wouldn’t trust to make decisions for your family. It’s better to be single than married and miserable.

You men, don’t marry a woman unless you really build a friendship with her and want that friendship to continue for the rest of your life. Don’t marry a woman who doesn’t love Jesus. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t even understand you.

Men, don’t marry a woman who doesn’t agree with you theologically. You may say, “Oh, what’s the difference between complementarianism and egalitarianism?” Well, get married and then see what happens. You’ll disagree how to organize the home, how to resolve conflict, how to read the Bible, and how to raise the children. You’re planting weeds in your own garden. And men, don’t marry a woman who doesn’t trust you, and won’t follow your leadership and doesn’t agree with the direction of your life, the church you want to attend, the career you want to pursue. If she doesn’t agree with those things, she’s not the woman for you.

And I would say, men, God doesn’t give us a job description; what he gives us is one of his daughters. And so he doesn’t want us to just check the boxes of duty; he wants to love us and help us to love his daughters. That’s what it means to be a Christian husband.

It also means that we don’t cohabitate, singles. We don’t. Jesus doesn’t sleep with the church; he marries her. He’s committed to her. He’s devoted to her. He’ll never leave her nor forsake her, and he loves her in a covenantal way, not in a cultural way. The world doesn’t know what it’s doing, because the world, in its wisdom, does not know God. I would encourage you to be no longer conformed to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you might be able to discern what God’s perfect and pleasing will is for you, for your relationships, for your family, for your legacy.

And so I have the great honor of teaching. You now have to decide what you’ll do with this information. I’d encourage you to get into a Community Group to talk about it with people, to continue to study the Scriptures and to see what God has to say.

After twenty-five years with my very best friend, I can assure you that God’s way is the best way. In fact, God’s way is the only way. We don’t fight a lot. We actually agree. We make decisions together. I asked Gracie, “Honey, give me an example of a time when we disagreed about something, and I made the decision, and you had to submit to it.” I gave her forty-nine hours, she couldn’t come up with one. We’ve been together twenty-five years. It’s not like I’m pulling out the I’m-the-head-of-household card all the time. If you have to do that, you’ve got a real problem in your marriage. We pray, talk, work it out together as friends, and then I take responsibility for the decisions that we make together.

A Call to Respond

We’re going to now give you an opportunity to respond as well. If you’re not a Christian, this is where you give your sin to Jesus, you receive his love as your Savior. We’re going to collect our tithes and offerings. I’ll ask the financial stewards to collect at this time. As we collect our tithes and offerings, let me remind you, Christ loved the church and what? Gave. When we give, we are saying, “I love what Jesus loves. I love the church.”

So, as we collect our tithes and offerings, I want you to know that Jesus has given to us, and as we give, we’re acknowledging that Jesus is giving through us. In addition, in a moment, we’re going to partake of Communion. And in Communion, we’re remembering that God gave himself—broken body, typified in the bread, shed blood, shown in the drink—and we’re seeing the love of God. We’re seeing the love of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And then lastly, we’re going to sing and we’re going to celebrate because we are loved. You know what every wedding has? A reception. What do they do at the reception? Well, they eat, and they drink, and they celebrate. That’s what we’re doing with Communion and worshipping. We’re eating, and drinking, and celebrating that Jesus loves us—that Jesus loves us.

And as we are preparing for that together, I want to share with you what’s going on at Mars Hill Sammamish. We’re one church family meeting in fourteen locations. And as Christ loved the church—that’s what the Bible says—we also want to love the church—love the whole church. And so I just want you to get a glimpse of what Jesus is doing at Sammamish.

Pastor Mark (PM): Well, Pastor Mark here at Mars Hill Sammamish with Pastor Alex . . . . Maybe give us a little back story. When did we start having services here?

Pastor Alex (PA): Actually, we started here in October of 2011._

PM: So, the church is about a year-and-a-half old or so?

PA: Yeah.

PM: So, it was given to us as a gift. Apparently there’s a big spiritual battle for this piece of land. Two churches couldn’t make it work. How’s the church doing in the middle of all of that a year-and-a-half into it?

PA: Well, we’re finding our way in all of this, really trying to understand what the mission is here, because as you say, it’s a very different kind of population. We’re sandwiched in between a large Catholic high school on one side and East Side High School, which is a public school in the Lake Washington School District, and then just up the block is Skyline.

PM: The football powerhouse.

PA: The football powerhouse. We’re trying to minister to families out here and call them forth so that they end up having not only a good family, but a really godly family that builds a legacy for kids and families in this community for years to come.

PM: And so how many generations of your family are worshiping together here at Mars Hill Sammamish?

PA: Well, there’s my wife and I, my three sons and their families and their kids, so there’s one, two, three generations.

PM: And see, that I think encapsulates the big vision for Mars Hill Sammamish: generations who love each other, love Jesus, stay married, raise their kids and their grandkids to love and to serve Jesus. And so I want to appreciate you for being here. But it’s really cool, because in the providence of God, your life story is one that we want to see replicated over and over and over here in Sammamish. For the other Mars Hill churches, how could they be praying for you and for the mission here?

PA: Well, we want to encourage, and invite and pull men in. This is a place that has a lot of young men that have young families. We want to train them up. We want to help them to learn to pray with their families, how to lead your wife, and they want to because the Holy Spirit lives in their heart. They want to grow in those kinds of ways. We want to find ways to train them up to be—to have really great families for the glory of God.

PM: How many kids are here on a weekend?

PA: I would say a normal Sunday service is—we probably have in the area close to three hundred kids.

PM: Three hundred kids?

PA: Yeah, it gets pretty crazy.

PM: So, you’re almost as many adults as kids.

PA: We are, we are.

PM: I mean, you’re close to 50 percent.

PA: Yep, yep, we have a lot of kids here. We have a great couple that runs our kids ministry. We want to help, you know, those parents not just babysit their kids, but we want to help equip parents to lead them at home.

PM: Awesome. Well, thank you for your work, buddy. Love you, appreciate you.

PA: Love you too.


Amen. Let me pray. Father God, as we gather together as a church family, I pray for the men to lovingly, humbly, generously, sacrificially take responsibility to lead their family like Jesus. And Lord Jesus, I ask for the wives and the women to respect, to trust their husbands, and if they’re a younger woman and have a godly father, even their father, following in the example of Jesus, who was equal, who was passionate, who was vocal, but responded to your leadership, Father God.

I pray for us to be no longer conformed to the pattern of this world but transformed by the renewing of our mind. And I pray for the few thousand children that call Mars Hill Church home and are being brought up, in large part, with intact families of moms and dads. And I pray that those children would be saved and spared from much suffering as their parents walk in wisdom, following in the example of Jesus—in whose name we pray. Amen.

Note: This sermon transcript has been edited for readability.

It's All About Jesus

Jesus was a man who claimed to be God. Think on that for a minute. If that were true, how would it change the way you thought, felt, and lived this life?

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