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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. - Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)
Marriage is a confusing topic in our culture and world. Really anyone can be married these days; there are very few actual regulations. You can’t marry your cousin or brother and you have to sign a piece of paper...but other than that, it’s kind of a free for all. Marriage is also pretty easy to get out of. To quote the Economic Times on the late Elizabeth Taylor, “Variety is the spouse of life!” Don’t like one, try another! Love it seems is fleeting, commitment disintegrating, and marriage may be quickly becoming an antiquated ritual that is honestly, no longer necessary to our society. More and more people are opting to live with their significant other before getting married. Many, never marrying at all. After all, it makes the break up easier, less messy. Our culture is unashamedly self-focused. Not getting what you want? Make a change! After all, you only get one life. Might as well make yourself happy. And that’s just it. Our world’s obsession with happiness and self-satisfaction has led us down a path of destruction. And God has something to say about it. Rather than the road of selfishness, He quietly calls us down the narrow path of self-sacrifice and submission. And all of the sudden the reasons for marriage and love are turned on their heads. Purpose becomes another person rather than self, an eternal kingdom to be gained rather than short-lived personal happiness. And instead of disintegration, we see growth, humility, and deeper love take root in our lives. We can drop the illusive pursuit of personal gain, and begin to see our marriages as a living, breathing example to the world of God’s love for His church, His Bride. This week we are going to take a look at the true reasons for marriage and the possibilities that come when we choose to do marriage the way God planned. We’ll see His kingdom promises open up before us and possibly leave with a little more hope than when we began.
Read Ephesians 5:21-33 in preparation for this week. Invite God to show you something new about marriage and His great plans for His Kingdom here on earth.Share Tweet
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. - Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV)
My grandparents were married for 60 years, until the day Big Daddy died. She was 17 and he was 24. She was working at a local five and dime, and they locked eyes. He hemmed and hawed and ending up buying a couple of pencils. He said he knew the day they met that she would be his bride. By 1956, they had 5 kids. He would read the newspaper while she would read the Bible, and he would tease her saying she had the real relationship with the Lord. His plan was to ride her coattails to heaven. She made sure they were at church every weekend. Faith for him was duty, and for her it was life. In the early nineties, she started showing signs of Alzheimer's. And my beautiful, poetry writing, praying Big Mama began to fade. And slowly, their roles changed. He made sure to take her to church every week, dressing her in her Sunday best, keeping her dignity even when she no longer knew what dignity was. He fed her, dressed her, and took care of all of her needs. He was exhausted trying to take care of her at home, and eventually, she had to be put into a nursing home. But every day, he went to see her. He showed up, even when she didn’t know who he was. He prayed with her. He loved her. And he trusted the Lord in entirely new ways. He was no longer riding her coattails but stepped into his own faith and dependence on God. In the end, over the course of their entire lives, through sacrifice and love, the Lord became life to both of them. And their marriage, their love for each other, painted a glorious picture of God’s love for the world.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." - Ephesians 5:31 (NIV)
When Reid and I first got married, our default was selfishness. We didn’t know how to be a team - one flesh. We both knew how to get our way, so instead of fighting for each other, we fought against each other. This all came to a head when I decided I was tired of living in our apartment. For several months, I had been begging Reid to look at houses with me. What you need to know about Reid is: he is a very slow, methodical, analytical (did I say slow?), decision maker. I, on the other hand, know what I want and will (sometimes recklessly) make decisions super quickly. So on this particular day, Reid reluctantly agreed to look at a house or two - with the caveat that we would not buy anytime soon, WE WERE JUST LOOKING. The only problem was, the third house we looked at that morning spoke to me. A switch flipped in me, and I knew we had to get it. Long story short, 30 days later we were moving in. In my mind it was a new adventure, in Reid’s mind, it was a nightmare. In one month, we gained 1500 square feet and marble countertops, but lost trust in our marriage. We would spend the next two years trying to rebuild that trust. See, we were still playing life like it was an individual sport. We were not one team - but two, with opposing goals. We knew we had to get on the same page and fight for one another, so we spent the next years repairing and communicating. I slowed my decision making and Reid sped up (a little). We learned to meet in the middle and to consider the other person first. We don’t do it perfectly, but we are learning and growing closer in the process.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
Reid and I are currently in a season of change. We had our first baby in February. I chose to go back to work part-time - thus changing roles at Southland. Reid is currently finishing a Computer Engineering degree and is in the process of job hunting. We knew with so many unknowns, we wanted to be on the same page spiritually, so we decided to start a “Bible in a Year” reading plan together. I have loved being literally on the “same page” with Reid daily. Since we both have the same verses rolling around in our brains, we’ve been able to process together and naturally apply scripture to our lives. A month or two after we started, I found myself with some extra time. While the baby was napping, I would do my reading. There were many days I wanted to do more, so I found a 6-month version of the same reading plan. Reid told me to go ahead and do it, but that he would be sticking with the original plan so he could balance his school work. I was excited! I set the new plan up on my phone and sat down with my Bible. But as I began, I had a check in my spirit. I knew the Lord was telling me to stay on the original plan with Reid. In my spirit, I knew that it was more valuable to stay on the same page with Reid than to run ahead, more valuable to learn and grow together than to just learn by myself. It’s like two horses pulling a cart together. One may be more tenacious than the other, but two pulling together in sync as a team are always going to go further than one by itself.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. - Ephesians 5:28-30 (NIV)
Since Woods’ birth, Reid and I have found a desire to be more intentional with our marriage and family life. We’ve thought more about how much time we spend on our phones, how we talk to each other, how we treat our bodies and the things we consume. It’s funny how the presence of a tiny new life can absolutely change your perspective about your own. It has led us into several conversations about living life on purpose. Our family formed the day we got married, but now we are thinking a lot more about how to intentionally form our family. The world will form your marriage and family if you let it. Without specific thought and attention to Christ, your marriage will fall into the world’s default setting. In the world’s plan most married couples eventually, lead dissatisfied, mediocre lives, pulled slowly apart by different pursuits of happiness. If we want the kind of marriage Ephesians talks about, we’re going to have to pursue it on purpose. What if you decided with your spouse today to lay specific Christ focused foundations that will lead to deeper satisfaction and stronger relationship in the long run? Reid and I are still figuring things out, but here’s three thoughts we keep coming back to:
Pretty simple, but helpful ways to stay connected to each other and Christ in a world that promotes just the opposite.