I've ridden with a lot of people in a lot of elevators - but none quite as unusual as the young man I met there a few years ago. Actually, he wasn't unusual - what he carried was - a wadded up tuxedo and wedding gown. He must have noticed the bemused look on my face. As the elevator door closed in front of us, he smiled and said, "Last night was a life-changing experience." Pretty perceptive for a newly-married man. Then he added, "Probably more than I know." He's got that right.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "The Radical Side Of 'I Do.'"
When a man says, "I do," God really does expect the results to be life-changing. Radically life-changing - as in totally living for someone other than yourself.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Ephesians 5:25-27. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
At most weddings, the minister will say something like this - "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the presence of God." Well, that's true. God, the author of marriage, is there, listening to those vows. And when He hears a man say, "I do," He hears that husband saying, "I will, on a daily basis, lay down my life for this woman." Now that is radical. As that newlywed carrying yesterday's tux and bridal gown said, "It's a life-changing experience."
From the time we're born, we're instinctively "me" people. Babies want my food, my comfort, my nap. When we grow up, we get our way in slightly more sophisticated ways, but we still expect to be the sun and everyone else to be the planets around me.
Jesus said that marriage for a man is the moving of someone else to the center position - my wife - and I will revolve my life around her needs, not her life around mine. This "you first" living is practical stuff. It's listening to your woman's heart being poured out even when you're dead tired or ready to watch a sporting event. It's putting her fulfillment ahead of yours in sexual love.
Putting your wife first means unloading your day's burdens on the way home so you can focus on her when you get there. Laying down your life can mean changing diapers, taking out the garbage, doing dishes - caring about her world, not just yours. Probably more than anything else, sacrificial love means the sacrifice of time, of taking time to listen to her heart. She needs your attention - and you promised her she would have it.
This radical realignment of who comes first may seem costly - but oh what a payoff it has. Ephesians 5 says that when Jesus loves us like this, we become radiant and our ugly qualities start to disappear. When a man copies Jesus and loves his wife sacrificially, the woman of his life becomes radiant from that love - and ugly qualities - the stains and blemishes - start to disappear. You can always tell a woman who is being loved like this - by that glow. Beautiful women develop in the garden of a man's selfless love.
Marriage is a life-changing experience for both of you. You find your own life by giving your life away to your lifetime love - and that's the radically beautiful side of "I do."