Monday, August 16, 2010

Excellent Roommates

Sometimes a marriage can feel like we are co existing rather than growing.

For a growing number of couples it is better to be roommates than married. To them it seems the institution of marriage can actually hinder rather than inspire growth. That might be something down the road but it's not necessary to do the formal, "socially acceptable" way of living together.

It's just easier.

What a sad commentary on marriage! It's as if the institution is the problem that gets in the way of a good relationship. It is seen as a restrictive way to live together rather than providing freedom. Where do they get this idea?

I'm afraid if we are honest it comes too often from those of us who are married. We can give the impression to others that we are Excellent Roommates rather than partners in life. You have your world and I have mine and we can take it or leave it. If it hinders my happiness than there is a serious problem. In many ways marriage is the most challenging of relationships. 24/7. You make vows to make it work, to never give up, to not stop caring. That's all well and good when we get along and I'm happy but....

In many ways marriage is also the most rewarding of relationships. It forces me to deal with my own shortcomings and to have to care about someone more than myself. I might not want that but I know in my heart I need it.

As a Christian I have a unique focus that the world can not understand. I care about my spouse more than myself not because of some archaic institution but because of the love of Christ. He cared about me more than himself not to be an excellent roommate but to be one in every way.

Christian, if you are married you know in your heart of hearts it is not primarily about you. Your marriage is to be the context where the love of Jesus is worked out and seen more and more. Even Paul when he wrote his instructions on marriage was careful to bring it all back to THE focus, "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32

Be more than great roommates but be a great picture of the gospel that is based on and lives out of his love.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Surprises can be fun. Bev and I surprised our daughter recently by showing up unannounced on her birthday. Her face, smile and tears made the 8 hour trip more than worthwhile!

Surprises can be unnerving. Like when the young husband thought it would be fun to jump out from behind a door and surprise his wife. The bruises on his body will prove to be a good reminder that he might want to try something else!

The most pleasant surprises are often the little, unexpected things.

A card or note sent not because of a special occasion but just to surprise your spouse with love. A surprise romantic dinner with all the arrangements made ahead of time. Just doing something you were not asked to do that you know would be a grateful surprise.

The sad and subtle path of many marriages is that they seem to loose that surprise element of their relationship. Each spouse seems to be increasingly consumed with legitimate responsibilities that make it difficult. It almost feels childish to play the surprise game when there are so many adult things going on!

What a difference a surprise can make!

Is this not similar to our marriage to Christ? The element of surprise was an almost daily blessing in the beginning. Jesus was pursuing us with that creative love to find new and surprising ways to show us his love was real and always present.

So what happened?

It's what happens in so many of our marriages. We tend to take each other for granted. We presume on their creative love and not surprise them with ours.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." I John 4:7

Let's get back to our first love and be renewed and surprised that we might surprise our husband or wife with the surprising love of Christ.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

That Was Easy

Does my marriage have to be messed up to be good?

So much of what is written regarding marriages is in response to the endless problems that seem to plague them. Whether it's adultery or a breakdown in communication or kids, you could get the impression that everyone is on the verge of some kind of catastrophe.

Is there something wrong if there are no big wrongs to deal with?

The statistics bear out the fact that almost half the marriages are in trouble. But what about he rest? What do we say to those who are doing well?

Too often we don't say anything. We don't encourage and affirm the good things we see and how they are growing together in life and love. Especially as professing Christians who are endeavoring to take the gospel seriously in their lives. They need to be thanked and affirmed in their faithfulness. They are a picture of what many of us want to pursue in our own marriages.

They in turn are an important catalyst in the hands of the Holy Spirit to spur us on. There is something that "rubs off" when we are around people who are trying to take Jesus more seriously in their marriages.

But here is a personal challenge to those who are doing well:

The Bible clearly calls those of us who have been blessed to be a blessing. To paraphrase Jesus in Luke 12:48, "To whom much is given much is expected in return." If God has blessed you with faithfulness in your marriage and love then give it back to the body of Christ!

You have more to give than you realize. Go out to dinner with another couple. You don't have to do some big public teaching just be an object lesson for us. We need to see the joy of your love for each other and for Jesus. Don't let us put you up on a pedestal, just hang around us more often.

In a world that is so complicated we need a simple focus. We need to see that IN CHRIST it's easier than doing it ourselves.

May God make us couples who have increased confidence in Christ and may your church be filled increasingly with couples who are doing well for all the right reasons.