Friday, May 11, 2012

Nurturing a True Passion for Marriage

The Humble Daily Realities of Building Great Marriage

Happy Family. ht/Dawn.

"Suppose I said, “My passion isn’t to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I’ll work for that. I’ll pray for that. I’ll sacrifice for that. But don’t expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I’m aiming at something grander.” If I said that, would you think, “Wow, Ray is so committed”? Or would you wonder if I had lost my mind?" -- Ray Ortlund [1.]

With these words, Pastor Ray Ortlund addresses those of us who claim to have a passion to build the Kingdom of G-d, but don't have much interest in being part of the daily workings of the local church. Indeed much ink has been spilled over passion for the institution of marriage in the past few days. I am challenged by Pastor Ortlund's observation that I have been a slacker when it comes to doing the real work involved in building my own marriage.

Indeed, we may win or lose our preferred definition of marriage at the ballot box, but the case for marriage really needs to be won in the trenches. Christian marriage is in trouble these days. It is all too easy to fall into default patterns and ignore commands such as that to "Love your wife as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for her." That is radical living and does not come naturally in today's narcissistic world.

Although the Church is referred to as "The Bride of Christ" and we look forward to that day mentioned in Revelation 21 when the New Jerusalem appears "like a bride," there is no mention of an earthly wife in Scripture. Still, Christ gives us insight in those instances where he does relate to women. In John 8, a woman "caught in adultry, the very act" is brought to Jesus. The men want to stone her to death. OK, if she was caught in the very act, where's the guy? Jesus stoops down, writes on the ground, and her accusers turn away. Jesus does not condemn her, but tells her to change the way she lives.

Another time Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. He asks her for a drink, which is pretty radical for a respected rabbi. He was not supposed to talk to a woman, let alone a Samaritan one. Again Jesus shows grace as he speaks truth. That is the challenge. There is a lot of ungraciousness these days.

Many of us are all too eager to speak our "truth," but all too quick to forget the grace part. Grace is hard work. Talk is cheap. Grace weeds the garden. Grace does the dishes. Grace is slow to speak and quick to listen. So I first want to challenge myself, if I truely believe in the institution of marriage, I will work on it, starting with the foundations. I need to repent where I have not lived like I believe in my own marriage, and I need to seek G-d for the grace to live it as He would have me live it. My challenge is to bring to the table a marriage that reflects the work of G-d in my life... a testimony to HIM, and the Kingdom He is building.

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