Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marriage Matters: Worship Changes Marriage

Jesus makes the point for us in Mark 12:30-31 that love for God and others (namely your closest neighbor and that's your husband) is all-consuming and deeply connected. There is no part of life that falls outside of one's heart, mind, soul and strength. This all-consuming kind of love is called worship, declaring the worth of something or someone. A life of worship (not just Sunday morning) but a life of worship is to have one's life totally oriented around the God of the bible. That means the way we love our husband finds its foundation and expression in how we worship God, because worshipping the God of the bible always leads to transformation and change. So this greatest commandment is not just an obligation for us but the path to meaningful change in marriage.

Everyone has faith in someone or something. Psalm 71 tells us, "In you, Lord, I put my trust. For you are my hope, O Lord God; you are my trust from my youth...you are my strong refuge, you uphold me, you are righteous, you teach me, your works are wondrous, you are powerful...who else is like you...you comfort me...you have redeemed me." Substituting anyone or anything for this assurance, loving or delighting in anyone or anything more than this God is idolatry. Don't ask yourself if, ask yourself what?

Play the "Which Would You Rather" game that I play with my grandchildren. For them it's which would you rather, Lucky Charms or ice cream? Ice cream or a bicycle? A bicycle or  Narnia book? Narnia or Disney? You play it this way: which would you rather, wealth or God? Approval or God? Comfort or God? My children or God? My husband or God? You can often determine what your idols are by seeing what makes you angry when you are denied what you want or what you think you deserve. Idols all serve self. They may require the participation of other people or things but they ultimately are about self and exalting oneself above God. God made us to worship Him and even in our rebellion against Him we cannot stop worshipping, we just seek a "worshipful" way to serve ourselves. Don't kid yourself. See? "Lucky Charms: America's #1 Source of Whole Grain." Right. So healthy and ultimately for my good.
So what's the danger? It's far worse than what you see at left. Psalm 115:3-8 tells us idols have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; ears, but cannot hear, hands, but they cannot feel, nor can they utter a sound. Those who make them will be like them and so will all those who trust in them. We will become like that which we worship. Which would you rather? Idol or God? Death or Life? That's pretty clear, isn't it? As much as you love your husband, he is not designed by God to be your everything, your everyone, your security, your savior. God is kind to tell us this. He is kind and merciful to bring us to Himself and to command us to find in Him our all in all.
Do you find hope and help in the Psalms? God tells us in Psalm 115 that He remembers us and will bless us. He will bless those who fear the Lord--great and small alike. If we worship Him He will bless us. How great is the Father's love for us that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3. If we worship God, He will change us until one day in glory we will be like Him. That is our hope. If our marriages are going to change, then change must begin through God with me. We must forsake our fears and desires that we have made into idols and be filled with God alone.

And you know what that means. Friction! There you have it. I'm headed one way, my husband the other. He's got an angle. Doesn't everyone? Everything is an uphill struggle. And like that equation, I don't understand it. Tim Keller tells us that love is hard to give and hard to receive. He's got that right. When we marry we are under the notion that there has never been another love like ours, we both like and dislike the same things, we're totally on the same page, and his mother doesn't drive me that crazy.  "Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love? Everyone ends up marrying the wrong person because two sinners marry and marriage profoundly changes both of them." Go, Tim.  "Marriage is meant to be a beautiful illustration of the gospel. And the reason marriage is so painful and yet so wonderful is because the gospel that it illustrates is also painful and wonderful. We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harsh; it gives information but in such a  way that we cannot really hear it. God's saving love in Christ is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God's love and mercy alone."

Christian love is not blind. It is the only love that allows us to see ourselves and one another as we really are and choose to love all the more. We love because God first loved us.



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