Friday, February 27, 2009

Intimacy and Pain

In God's sovereign wisdom he puts us together in marriage to grow in the likeness of Jesus. That work comes at a cost. First and foremost the cost of His lifeblood to give us forgiveness and intimacy with the Father. Another cost is the daily sanctification of the gospel in our own lives. We have to be daily sharpened and molded which often brings pain.

Perhaps one of the most intimate and thus painful contexts for that sanctification is in our marriages. Listen again to a secular marriage counselor's observation as to the reason for this difficulty. "...we have deep and inbred capacities to change and grow, and that taking shared, creative risks with someone loved and trusted enhances these capacities. But let's not fool ourselves - marriage is hard. And if there is one single factor that makes our marriages hard, it is that they become crucibles for our own individual pain."The Marriage Benefit, Mark O'Connell

Biblicaly speaking that crucible is the place where eternal issues arise. We want to know Christ and to make Him known. That means we want to see as He sees, listen as He listens, love has He loves. What's going on in your marriage right now? Where does Jesus fit in? Not as a medicinal tablet to ease some pain but to grow you more into His likeness.

Le't not run from the struggle but belive that God has brought our spouses into our lives to bring out Jesus more clearly and fully. "Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1,2. It's really not about us but aobut Him and the call is to bring out the fragrance of Christ in our relationships, and especially in our marriages which are to be pictures of the gospel we declare to be our first love.

Monday, February 9, 2009


One of the most difficult things in life is to admit our blindness. The lens of life is always tainted with sin. We all have blind spots that frustrate rather than free us to live as God's children.

The unspoken values of our culture control us more than we would like to admit. You don't have to be an insightful Christian to be able to see it's effects. The author I mentioned before who deals with marriages in our culture states it this way, "We live in a culture that promises us Teflon-smooth lives lived with a minimum of hardship and a maximum of gratification. We are, it follows, quick to substitute grievance and blame for acceptance when times get tough."

Our spouses quickly become the focus of our life's disappointments. If my life is not working out the way I planned than surely the problem is outside of myself. Something or someone is hindering what I desire and deserve.

Where does the gospel of Jesus fit into this? I would suggest the first place is within our own hearts not our marriage or circumstances. Am I willing to first determine the blind spots in my own vision that might even be hindering the very work of the gospel?

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Marriage is Hard Work

Why does the secular world seem to understand better than the religious arena sometimes? I recently came across a book I picked up in the airport written by a secular psychologist. The title could be found in a Christian bookstore, The Marriage Benefit: The surprising rewards of staying together.

Here is a major premise of his work, " this age of fast and easy gratification giving things time is becoming a lost art."

I found myself convicted throughout the book as to how I have been shaped more by my culture and my own desires than than by the call of Christ. Just that one thought alone, "giving things time" is a haunting reminder to me of what is too often lacking. I hear more about why people want to give up on marriage than on how to make it work. Could it be because it's just too hard to truly grow in that relationship?

In a culture where we are obsessed with youth and euphoria we need a clear reminder to endure or "give things time." There is a direct parallel again between marriage and the Christian life. Jesus calls us to bear patiently or to give things time rather than assume His promises will not hold true. I fear that's also becoming a lost art in our Christian lives.

I'll be quoting often from this book in the future but for now remember this more important quote, "...let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..."Heb.12:1,2