I love my wife. She is my best friend, my helpmate, my beloved, and the other half of me. I am incomplete without her.
That’s beautiful, isn’t it? I think so, anyway. In fact, it’s a picture Christ and His Bride. The Church is His friend, helpmate, beloved, and the other half of Him. While He is complete in the sense that He is God, She also completes Him in the sense that She is His glory on the earth. She is His image, expression, and manifestation. My love for, and relationship with, my wife is a picture of that greater reality. It is a reflection of that. But it is only a picture.
While that heavenly reality exists, and that is His completed work in me, I am still human. I live in the here and now in this world. That is the here and now in the heavenly realm. This is here. This is my earthly reality. I am human, and I am walking through the practical outworking of that heavenly reality. My relationship with my wife is perfected in Jesus Christ – in the heavenlies. My relationship with my wife is still a progressing, growing, living, learning relationship in Jesus Christ – in the earthlies. So, what does that mean? I still make mistakes.
Take a recent exchange between my wife and me for example:
Wife: What’s the matter?
Me: Nothing – it’s just a whole bunch of mess.
Wife: Ok, so what’s a whole bunch of mess?
Me: Well, I was [doing something], and I realized you [don’t seem to be paying me as much attention as I think I deserve, because I’m your husband]. (That’s the gist of it.)
Can you hear the accusation and the selfishness? You aren’t meeting my expectation. Kinda crummy, huh? Instantly, I put a divide between my two halves (my wife and me). Where in that exchange do I remind my beloved of her identity as a wholly loved, precious jewel? Where in that exchange do I manifest the completed work of Jesus Christ in my life? Where in that exchange does the life of Jesus Christ flow from me? (Nowhere.)
While my sin AND my sinful nature have both been crucified in Christ, I’ve still got to walk that out daily on this earth. Jesus said to disown myself and take up my cross daily. My old man, my sinful nature has been crucified; it is dead! BUT…I still live by it from time to time. I don’t mean to, but I do it. And it is when I live by that crucified nature that death flows out of me. When I choose to live by a dead life, death is what gets expressed. In the above exchange, I chose to speak out of my crucified pride, expectations, and selfish desires, and I spoke death to my wife. I was trying to put back on the old self with its evil practices (Col. 3:9), instead of wearing the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him (Col. 3:10).
Fortunately, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). My wife (perfect, such as she is) 😉 has not lorded this over me, and neither does Christ. Though I’ve made this mistake, though I’ve spoken death to my most favorite person in the whole, wide universe, the heavenly reality remains unchanged. My love for my wife is still perfected in completion in the heavenly reality of Jesus Christ. Though I walk through this earthly reality making mistakes, my identity in the heavenly realities never changes. The same goes for my wife: Even though she had death spoken to her, her identity in the completion of Christ never changed. She was, and is, still there.
And now, to really flip your lid, that already completed reality took another step toward its completion in me through all of this! Huh??? The completed heavenly reality of my relationship with my wife took another step toward its completion in the earthly reality in which I still daily walk. In the dark of my mind, I had a bitter root against my beloved. It was there, nagging me. When my wife asked what was wrong, that bitter root sprung right out of my mouth. But as it did, that bitter root was exposed in the light of His life. I saw it, repented of it, and rested again in my perfected heavenly reality. In my daily earthly reality, I progressed toward that perfection.
So, all this to say what? You and I are still human. We still have that old self, that crucified nature, that flesh to deal with. We have to walk that out with the Lord on this earth. But, we also have beautiful, perfected, completed identities in Jesus Christ. We are new creations! And because of that glorious identity, He sees us as holy and blameless. And He will write straight with our crooked lines. Through our death, His life is made manifest. And that is the perfected completion toward which all creation is headed. Amen!