Friday, June 24, 2011

What A Blessing

I recently had breakfast with some men and asked them to talk about the blessings of being married rather than the challenges. We too often start with the negative and try to figure out how to make the most of our difficulties. Sometimes it is better to start with what is good and to appreciate how God has blessed us with our wives.

There were four responses I thought were very insightful as to what it means to be married:

1. Being Known, This husband found great comfort in the knowledge that his wife knew him well. He could trust her with his struggles and knew she loved him still.

2. No More Dating!, The security of having a committed relationship took away the pressure of playing and pretending. He now has someone to be with in uniqueness for the rest of his life.

3. Never Alone, as God's creation we were designed to live in relationship with others. Marriage is one of those precious arenas where we can appreciate the Lord's observation, "it is not good for man to be alone."

4. Checks and Balances, This husband was quick to declare, "I've learned more about God through my wife than anywhere else!" He saw how God was using this relationship with his wife to grow him and sharpen him in every way.

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this is what we find in our marriage to Christ. The main difference is that Jesus gives us what no spouse could ever give. Our marriages are to be more about Him and to reflect His love rather than what we get.

What does that mean or look like? Read Philippians 2:1-11 and see that Jesus' primary concern was not his needs or desires but the glory of his Father. The Apostle Paul put it succinctly in verse 5,"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Yes, thank God for the blessings of marriage but let those blessings lead you to a higher calling in your marriage to Christ and may that be seen in your lives today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Normal Christian Marriage

With all the emphasis on vital marriages today it's easy to feel abnormal or even subnormal about our own marriage. Charismatic couples who are on the speaking circuit seem to have incredible intimacy and endurance. Even in our churches we look around and feel like everyone else is doing fine but us!

Why can't we be like them?!

It's good and important to be challenged in our relationships but too often the message can be to model others in personality and practice and you will live happily ever after! We start believing the normal christian marriage is more personality driven than Spirit driven. This doesn't always happen intentionally but subtly we start trying to be someone we are not.

We feel guilty and frustrated because the harder we try the more discouraged and even angry we become. Real change is hard to come by and too often we assume the best years are behind us. Our hope sadly becomes in now trying to survive rather than continuing to grow as a couple in Christ.

So what's the solution? Do we just, "Let go and let God?!" There is some truth to that phrase but it can also be empty. It's not just throwing your arms in the air and giving up and waiting on God to do something. It's more about owning the struggle of how God is at work in us. The problem is not primarily a personality flaw but a heart flaw. God is in the business of making us look more and more like Jesus and we have the privilege of doing that as partners in this life.

This should be the normal call for all of us, "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 The challenge of the normal Christian marriage is the same as the normal Christian life. Too often we take our eyes off Jesus and look to the world for our example and motivation rather than on him and his promises.