Summary: When it comes to love in our lives, we need to quit focusing on our feelings and instead focus on the mission. There are times in every relationship where you’re going to feel high levels of passionate love for one another. But there are also times when y
The Ministry of Christian Marriage
Les and Leslie Parrott tell the story of Jennifer and Michael. After graduating from college, they married and began their individual career pursuits- she as an account executive and he as a social worker. They had put off having children until they were more settled and financially secure. Now married for ten years, Jennifer began questioning her love for Michael. Love’s intoxication and passion had all but evaporated. “How can we have a baby when I don’t even know if I still love Michael?....I am closer to Michael than anyone but it feels like we are good friends rather than lovers.” Every marriage reaches a point when the love fires burn low and the passion has eroded. In times like these, questions can begin to arise about our marriage and our love for our spouse.
Here’s the mistake that most people make when it comes to love: they believe it’s about how you feel. We’ve all been there at the beginning of the relationship when eros or passionate love dominates your thoughts, efforts and time. It’s that spine-tingling, sensual emotion which draw us to one another. It encompasses the sensual and the sexual, and is characterized by physiological arousal and the desire for physical affection. And so love is looked at as how you feel. And when that feeling diminishes, people begin to think the love is gone. There’s the story of a woman and her husband who came to a pastor and said, "We’re going to get a divorce, but we want to come to make sure that you approve of it." Rather than giving his approval, the pastor said to the husband, "The Bible says you’re to love your wife as Jesus Christ loved the church." He says, "Oh, I can’t do that." The pastor says, "If you can’t begin at that level, then begin on a lower level. You’re supposed to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Can you at least love her as you would love a neighbor?" The husband says, "No. That’s still too high a level." The pastor says, "The Bible says, Love your enemies. Begin there."
When it comes to love in our lives, we need to quit focusing on our feelings and instead focus on the mission. There are times in every relationship where you’re going to feel high levels of passionate love for one another. But there are also times when you are going to feel that you’re not in love, passionate love, with your spouse anymore. The question becomes, “What are you going to do then?” Many couples pack up their bags and leave the relationship but the call of marriage is to much more. Christian marriage is a sacred calling for two people to live a lifetime of ministry one to the other. To be a Christian means to believe, to trust and to follow Christ. In other words, it means to place Christ first in your life and to seek to do his will above all others.
A Christian Marriage isn’t just about the husband and wife. What happens in many lives is that we are focused on ourselves. We live in the I-It realm where the people in my life are looked at as what they can do and provide for me. But the third part of a Christian marriage, Jesus, calls us to much more. Too often we’re not focused on the cross but on other things: our careers, our dreams, our hopes, our needs, our goals. As a result, you have one person going one way and the other person going another. You’ve seen this in your friends and families who have divorced and when asked why, they respond, “We just grew apart.” No, you didn’t just grow apart. You took small steps in individual directions which followed one after another until you were no longer the same people wanting the same things.
But there’s a third party involved and that’s Jesus. When two people in Christian marriage say our primary purpose in life is to serve Jesus, to do His will and to be His representative here on earth, including to my spouse, then everything suddenly changes. It’s no longer about me, or my dreams, my hopes, my needs, and my goals. It’s about Jesus and His will for my life and our marriage. It’s about choosing to follow Christ together. It’s about together putting Him first in your life and seeking to do his will for each other and for your marriage.
When you do then you can be like Joshua. In our Scripture passage today, Joshua is now an old man and is standing before the Israelites who have been called together. He assures them that although the holy land is not yet fully conquered, God has always been faithful to his promises and will give them the land as promised. Standing in the midst of a future not yet realized, Joshua says the people have a decision to make: to either be faithful and committed to the gods of the world or to the one true Lord. He then concludes with this declaration, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." And that’s really the choice every couple needs to make: for whom are you going to live, who are you going to serve and who are you going to worship? Thus far, we have talked about how men and women were meant for one another and how couples bond with each other through meeting one another’s needs and loving each other sacrificially. But what sets a Christian marriage apart from all the others is the most important bonding of all: spiritual bonding. It’s realizing that a shared faith and commitment to Jesus Christ provides a love and a glue which is stronger than anything else in marriage.