This weekend I get to officiate my first wedding. That is pretty exciting and a little scary. Of course perfect love casts out fear so filled with His love I have no fear of punishment but am a little afraid of men. Why? Typically the stuff said at weddings is very liturgical, very legal, very demanding and usually have all sorts of references to trials and tribulations and submissions and commands and obligations and duty and all that kind of stuff. To be honest since I have discovered the true Gospel of Grace, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have a hard time hearing all that especially at such an amazing time in two peoples’ lives. So I can’t talk about that stuff. I don’t believe in it any more. I do believe Jesus is always the answer. I believe His plan is always resourced. I believe His design is perfect. I believe the language of Heaven is always good, positive, free from defeat, free from condemnation, free from duty and law and carrots and sticks, well…it is free! Jesus said if He sets us free then we are free indeed. That freedom applies to every aspect of our lives especially on a wedding day when two people become one as God intended. That is awesome!
What actually happens when two people are “married?” In the United States and dependent on the State laws, they enter a marriage contract. There is a marriage license issued and their “union” is legally recognized. Then you have access to financial benefits, inheritance laws, medical benefits and all sorts of other “legal” stuff. A marriage in the Kingdom of Heaven is a covenant. A covenant is very different from a contract. A contract is broken when one party or both fail to fulfill their obligation of the contract. Then there is money involved legal ramifications, punishment maybe, jail time, liable proceedings and all kinds of other badness. In a covenant relationship you are bound by death. There is no getting out of a covenant unless someone dies. You surrender your life to the other party. Covenants generally have some stipulations or expected dynamics associated with the relationship. There are “promises” associated with the bond. Still, promises or not, only death breaks the covenant.
In a marriage the stipulations or agreements or conditions are singular, just one thing. When you are married you are joined as one flesh. Yep that is it. You get to return to the original created design. When God made Adam His plan was for a covenant relationship. God is a relational God. He is a covenantal God. He is three in one. Likewise when He made woman He divided man to do it. He split apart Adam to make Eve. In this way they were of one flesh. Check this out:
Gen 2:23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence. (AMP)
“Yeah but what about love is a choice and submitting and all that stuff?”
As a born again believer in Christ you are a new creation. Two believers joined in marriage are actually reconciled to their intended state, their created intent. Being married should be the most natural bond imaginable. The problem is we have added a bunch of law stuff to what should be a covenant of Grace. We have turned a powerful union between two people and Jesus into a system of obligations and duties and “or else’s.” We have removed resurrection power and replaced it with human effort. We have replaced surrender with independence. We have sacrificed unity for individuality. Marriage should just like a relationship with Jesus. Marriage is a huge receptacle for His Grace. Paul says this:
Eph 5:29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. (The Message)
In a marriage we “get to” do lots of stuff as one. We are one body with our spouse. All the stuff about submission and honor is simple if we see the union like we see our bodies. Paul says this:
1 Cor 12:18 But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation….25 So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. (AMP)
But there is more…
Not only are we one flesh as God intended we have the mind of Christ. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We have the fullness of God in the revelation of the love of Jesus. We have Christ in us the hope of glory. We are not of the flesh but of the spirit and walk in the spirit if we have the Holy Spirit. His Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. We are sons and daughters in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are friends of God. We have access and authority for all Kingdom power and glory. We lack nothing since our Abba is infinitely resourced. We are reconciled, redeemed, paid for, ransomed, free, forgiven, a new creation, delivered, saved, have eternal life, have the Kingdom of God in us, have His peace, have His joy, are pure, are holy, are clean, have a clean conscience, are sanctified, are saints, are filled with His love and so much more. Followers of Christ are uniquely qualified and prepared for a fruitful marriage relationship. A marriage is a three-way covenant. Christ in each other, each other in Christ, Christ married to them, them married to Christ, the Holy Spirit in them and among them (when two or more are gathered together…).
Can you begin to see it? Marriage is awesome! The two cannot be defeated by anything. If Christ is for us who can come against us? They are more than conquerors. The enemy has no power. Sin has no power. Deception has no power. Tribulation has no power. Trial has no power. God has Grace upon Grace for husband and wife and the marriage. Say one day wife wakes up and just isn’t “feeling the love” for husband. Do you know what is in the wife that she has access to? His perfect love.
1 Cor 13:4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous [envious], it does not brag, and it is not proud [arrogant; conceited; puffed up]. 5 Love is not rude [disrespectful], is not selfish [self-serving], and does not get upset with others [is not easily provoked/angered]. Love does not count up [keep a record of] wrongs that have been done. 6 Love takes no pleasure [does not rejoice] in evil [wrongdoing; injustice] but rejoices over the truth. 7 Love patiently accepts all things [bears all things; or always protects], always trusts [believes all things], always hopes [hopes all things], and always endures [endures all things]. (EXB)
That is not a self-derived love that you manufacture or pull out of nothing or try harder to get or anything like that. It is God’s love for you and in you. You just get to choose to rest in Him. You get to surrender to His love. You get to operate from His Grace. You get to love your spouse as God loves you. You say in your heart “God I don’t feel like I love my spouse today but I know that Your love is in me and for me and for him/her so I surrender to Your love, I choose Your love and Your truth over my feelings.” Oh by the way the feelings come from a lie. God will show you what that lie is as well. The enemy tells you that you lack something just like he did with Eve. Say “no more!” I have everything I need. I have abundantly more than that. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. My Father in heaven is good and loving and just plain AWESOME! I say I DO! Or maybe better said… IGET TO!