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RADICAL MARRIAGE

July 11th, 2011

 

This commentary on marriage is for the really hungry, the totally sold-out for Jesus, husband and wife teams who desire to set aside their own personal interests in favor of committing their marriages to Jesus Christ, the true Bridegroom.  The ideas will not appeal to many, but will be tantalizing refreshment for the few who see their marriage as wonderful but not fully complete.  They understand that more of the fullness of the Kingdom of God is available to those who passionately desire Jesus to be the centerpiece.  The degree of their pursuit can be seen in the tilt of their heads – whether their gaze is horizontal, focused on worldly pursuits, or vertical, where their focal point is on Jesus.

This message is intended to cut straight through the world’s concepts of marriage advice or counseling, all the way to the heart of sold-out love and abandonment to the One who created marriage.  The marriage covenant is intended to be a rehearsal of the Grand Story of the eternal union between the Bridegroom Jesus and His Bride, the Church, at the end of this age.  (The Church will consist of those born-again Believers who have fully surrendered their lives and their wills to Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Living God.)  When that time comes, we will only have eyes for Him.  Selfish desires will become totally unimportant, even repugnant.

From the beginning, God called Israel to be His wife, and He later grafted the believing Gentiles into the fold.  Isaiah 62:5b says, “And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”  In Hosea 2:19, He says, “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in loving-kindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”  Yet, from the day Moses led His bride out of Egypt, she has grumbled and complained, and her focus has been almost completely self-centered.  I believe we are in the last days of this age, and it is imperative that we radically change how we respond to our Betrothed.  I invite you to see your earthly marriage as the perfect training ground, as you prepare for your part in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Earlier in my own marriage, my husband and I were quite content, believing we were experiencing the best of marriage.  Frankly, this notion was often a source of pride in me.  Then a few years ago the Lord spoke through a prophetic word, declaring that we didn’t even have a clue about the depth of God’s full intention for marriage.  After recovering from the initial shock, we immediately began asking the Lord to reveal His thoughts about marriage.  He gave us an “earful” then, and He is still revealing more and more insight as we press in for a better understanding of His heart.

Following are a few points the Lord has impressed upon my heart.  I know there is much more for me to learn, but for now, I am working at getting my arms around the basics of unconditional and Christlike love within the covenant of earthly marriage.

          Point to consider:  the main focus of a husband and wife must primarily be vertical, rather than horizontal.  When their eyes are on Jesus, their vision is clear.  Jesus is to be the Head in the marriage; His commandments provide the foundation and Scripture fills in the details.  The closer each person gets to Jesus, the closer the partners get to one another.  This relationship becomes the cord of three strands that is not easily broken.

          Point to consider:  The degree of my need for self-preservation is the degree of my inability to love.  Until I develop an unoffendable heart, I will tend to hide my weaknesses for fear of having them exposed and exploited.

          Point to consider:  Love will cause me to desire to be rid of every little thing about my character that is not pleasing to my husband.  This is not at all about him, but about the length to which I will go in order to bless and please him.  How many of my personal pet characteristics am I willing to lay down at the foot of the Cross?

          Point to consider:  In an algebraic equation, X is the unknown quantity to solve, so X is ?.  Once you know the value of X, you can solve (understand) the equation.  First Corinthians 13 says that “Love is ___,” (i.e.: love is patient, love is kind, etc.), so once I solve “love” from the descriptions in this chapter, I can recognize love when it is given or received.  This chapter can be a handy instruction manual for me as a wife, although walking out the principles can be quite difficult unless I am determined to walk in Godliness in all that I do.  God gives me a clue about identifying Godliness:  I John 4:8 says that God is love.  So, I have an entire chapter that tells me what God is like.  If I insert the word ‘God’ in place of the word ‘love’ in each verse, the whole chapter takes on new meaning.

          Point to consider:  Matthew 26:6-13 tells the story of how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with her life savings’ worth of oil, while He was having dinner in Simon’s house.  What seemed to the onlookers as a waste of resources was actually a highly pleasing offering to the Lord.  The woman held nothing back, but lavished her Beloved with all she had, expecting nothing in return.  Love invites me to desire to give all to my husband, not necessarily what I have conveniently allocated as “all,” but what my spouse would consider to be my all.

          Point to consider:  I can be a wife to my husband or I can be a mother; the delivery of my words and actions determines which role I am stepping into.  In any given situation, whichever role I choose to play, I cannot be seen during that particular exchange as being the other.  If I have established what plays out much like a mother-son relationship in our marriage, my husband will find it hard to see me as anything other than a substitute mother.  It is no wonder that he will then find it difficult to lavish me with romance, and cherish me in the way I would desire.

          Point to consider:  It was never God’s intention for a marriage relationship to be primarily based on physical attraction the way the world sees it.  His plan is to match two people together who complement one another, and when joined together, the two become one complete unit.  God wonderfully creates an attraction of one to the other, which is a blessing.  However, my focus must always be on the qualities of my husband’s heart, rather than on his outward physical features or his choices of style.

          Point to consider:  It is dangerous for a couple to set their main goals on amassing material wealth.  If my spouse and I are overly concerned about such things, we will miss God’s true plan for us; our attention will be too focused on our balance sheet and how well we keep up with our friends and neighbors.  God blesses His children with the bounty of heaven and earth, and He desires that we fully enjoy those blessings; however, He also expects us to use that wealth to advance the Kingdom of God.  The only way financial blessings can flow into a marriage is if financial blessings also flow out.

          Point to consider:  Marriage is an ever-moving, ever-changing organism.  Each day is different from the day before.  However, although marriage is comprised of three persons (husband, wife, Jesus), only two of them change.  No matter the situation, no matter how things appear, God never changes.  His word never changes, His love never changes, and He doesn’t go anywhere.  So, He can be a firm stake in the ground that holds fast while the other two parts appear to be flopping in the wind. 

          Point to consider:  When one looks out into a clear night sky, he is captivated by the brilliance of the moon and the stars.  For a moment, he can completely lose track of his surroundings or his situation.  In like manner, a husband or wife should be captivated by the brilliance of his spouse and thus, he has no desire to focus on the flaws.  Unconditional love does not simply ‘overlook’ the imperfections of the other; but rather, it sees the person as being perfectly beautiful just as he is.  (The secret here is in acknowledging that God is aware of every aspect of the other person, and He is powerful enough to lead him to make any changes He finds necessary.  In that space, whatever God is not dealing with in my spouse at that particular moment, I don’t need to be concerned about either.)

          Point to consider:  Marriage is a framework, a covenant instituted by God; therefore, marriage in itself does not have problems.  The troubles arise when those who enter into that covenant relationship begin to look anywhere other than in the mirror when things go awry.

I challenge you to examine your own marriage (or your own views on marriage), and determine which changes you might want to make.  The concept of radical marriage is not for the faint-hearted, neither is it for the self-centered or the extremely needy or the overly sensitive.  It will appeal to those who desire the rich blessings of walking in the fullness of what God has to offer, and the rewards will be well worth the pain involved in implementing the changes.  I promise you, pain will accompany any changes you decide to make!  But, remember what Paul said in Romans 8:18: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  I believe I can apply this promise to the suffering involved in willingly laying down my life for my spouse.

          This point is personal:  Recently the Glory of the Lord filled our house, and the Holy Spirit spoke to us about several things we had been praying about.  Then He gave me a thought-provoking message.  Following is a paraphrase of what I heard:   “Do you know why your ministry is so fruitful?  It is because the two of you work so well together as a team.  But, I am taking you to a new level.  From now on, I do not want the two of you to disagree about anything at all.  If you have an issue to work through, ‘see’ yourselves standing side-by-side and each pitching your ideas onto a table.  Then piece together the best plan.  If you do not come together on any particular point, then you (that meant me) back down and come into agreement with your husband.  You are to defer to your husband’s decision, every time, even when you know for certain that you are right and he is wrong.”  Wow, that got me to thinking!  I knew immediately that the Lord had already gone before me in this matter because my first thought was to praise Him for the wonderful new thing He was about to do in me.  (That is definitely not what I would have expected to be my first thought!)  I was fully aware of the humility this plan would require of me.  Likewise, I was aware of the level of responsibility it would require of my husband.  I can report that for the past number of months, God has walked me through this exercise with relative ease.  I have had to bite my tongue a time or two, but I have been given the grace to walk in the plan He has set out for me.  I do not yet fully comprehend all that this is intended to produce in me; however, I know that He always has a perfect plan and this will become an effective tool for me in the days ahead.

This Radical Marriage concept has radically changed and blessed me.  I pray that a few of you will also feel the tug of the Holy Spirit calling you into a new and thought-provoking view on marriage.  God bless you as you ponder these ideas, and as you seek the Lord for His words for you.