Another thought experiment:
Take the husband with the shrewish, emasculating wife. Say you counsel with him to love his wife as Christ loves the church, regardless of her behavior. Say you open up in Biblical depth and breadth all that means, and you relate it to the Gospel as you should.
Sometime later, he once again begins listing off to you a long and lurid narrative of his wife’s crimes and misdemeanors. He goes on and on. The subtext seems to be: she’s so awful, I’m so mistreated.
You stop him, and again remind him of the call of Scripture on him. The conversation you already had.
“Oh, yeah. I tried that,” he says.
There lies the problem: Walking with God isn’t something you try. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might is not something you try. Loving your neighbor as yourself isn’t something you try. The fear of Yahweh, living in the fear of Yahweh all day, living as in the presence of God, continuing in the word of Christ, abiding in Christ — these aren’t things we try.
These are the calls of God on us. To have a relationship with God is to DO those things; to not do so is to live a doomed lie. All of these are precepts of the life to which God calls us. They are descriptions of where we are going, where we must be going, if we are in Christ.
What I am afraid the “I tried that” response often reveals is a fundamental misunderstanding of all that. I am afraid it reveals that the person thinks of Christian living as a technique, a means to achieve an end; the end of making others treat me in a certain way or gain blessings and good fortune in this life..
The wounded husband in our example above thought you were giving him a way to make his wife behave, to make her treat him the way she should. He tried it. She didn’t. What now?
Read the Gospels, read 1 Peter, read the whole Bible – a Gospel-grounded, Christ-centered life is what we’re called to live no matter what anyone else does. God’s imperative command’s for our life do not change based on how others treat us or whether we gain fortune and blessings.
As husbands, loving our wives as Christ loves the church defines us and is non-negotiable. It isn’t something we “try.” Ditto our calling as a father, a church-member, a friend.
We’re not called to try. We’re called to die, and to live again.