Showing posts with label Covenant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Covenant. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2024

Marriage was God’s Idea

Marriage was his idea, after all. God created marriage, and put the desire in our hearts. However else it is you think you came together, what other forces you think were at work, the hopeful truth is that marriage is something God cares deeply about—including your marriage. When through the prophet Malachi the Lord God of Israel says, “I hate divorce,” we hear it with a shudder. But it ought to be with a surge of hope—the passion conveyed in those three words reveals how deeply he loves marriage, how strong his vested interests are in its success.

John and Stasi Eldredge — Love and War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of (pp. 17-18)

In life we have many types of relationships. There are the relationships that we form with the people at work or at school. There are the relationships that are formed with the people at church or in our sports league. There are the relationship that we have with our parents, siblings, and other relatives.

Among these relationships marriage is unique. Marriage is a relationship created around the promise to live life together. A relationship that is the foundation of family and creates the environment children need to mature into good people.

Christians believe that marriage is much more than a romantic relationship or contractual relationship created for mutual benefit. We believe that marriage is a sacred covenant ordained by God, and because it is given to us by Him, it contains His wisdom for what is best for people.

Marriage is not merely a union of two individuals but a reflection of God's eternal design for companionship, intimacy, and mutual support.

John and Stasi Eldredge point out that, "Marriage was his idea, after all." In other words, we should not do not devalue or diminish marriage. There is a reason why God gave us the idea of marriage, and when we minimize the value of marriage our relationships, families, and communities will suffer. Marriage is part of God’s plan for the flourishing of human beings.

From the beginning, God created man and woman in His image, each uniquely designed to complement and complete one another. As Genesis records the creation narrative, we read the divine proclamation, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Woven within the fabric of our being is the longing for companionship. This is a desire placed within our hearts by God Himself. This desire for connection, intimacy, and partnership finds its ultimate fulfillment in the covenant of marriage. Not only does marriage provide an intimate connection between a man and a woman, but from marriage the comes other people who become our family and friends. It is because of marriage that none of us have to live alone.

Despite the complexities of human relationships and the all the different challenges we encounter, the foundational truth stands—marriage is a gift from God and is a reflection of His love and purpose for our lives.

It is no wonder that throughout history and in different cultures, marriage has been seen as a sacred institution, a relationship created not by human wisdom but by divine providence. It is true that marriage has not been practiced the same, but it has still held value in the ordering of cultures.

In Malachi 2:16 (NLT) we read:

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

Here we discover God’s plea to husbands to take marriage seriously and to love their wives, because their wives were dependent on them. At that time husbands had the life of their wives in their hands, and so God reminded them of their great responsibility.

Today, in the United States, things are different, but marriage is no less important, and a broken marriage still inflicts pain on all those involved. For marriage to be what God intended it to be, a relationship that benefits human flourishing, it must be built, not only on love, but also on faithfulness.

Loyalty and faith are essential for any covenant to endure. God’s covenant with His people endures because of God’s faithfulness. For a marriage covenant to endure it requires the faithfulness of the husband to his wife, the faithfulness of the wife to her husband, and for Christians, both their faithfulness to God. When faithfulness is lacking love is not able to endure.

In our culture it is love that draws people to marriage, but what holds that marriage together is that faithfulness that love creates. It is the commitment and loyalty that is present that results in the couple to be there together through all the ups and downs of life.

In a world marked by temporary relationships and changing values, the timeless truth of God's purpose for marriage provides a secure place to call home. All of us need a place of rest and safety that allows us to be recharged and strengthen to face all the challenges life has to offer.

So in a time that is plagued by loneliness, depression, and anxiety we should remember the importance of marriage. Not because these realities disappear in marriage, but because in a healthy, loving, and faithful marriage an environment is created that helps us face life together and thus reduces the impact of them on our life.

Part of God’s plan for human beings is marriage, and the more we devalue and diminish marriage, the more our families and communities will suffer.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

More than a Personal Relationship

God deals with people through the use of covenants. 

Carl Ketcherside in his book The Death of the Custodian wrote:
The fact is that God has chosen to relate to man on the basis of covenants. He is a covenant-making God. No one who ignores this fact will ever grasp God’s plan and purpose in any age. (p. 15)
I want to throw this idea out to you: We have a covenant relationship with God and not just a personal relationship with God. 
Yes, I understand that marriage is a covenant relationship, and you can't get a more personal relationship than marriage. 

Just like marriage, the covenant God established with us through Jesus creates a personal relationship. At the same time it sets apart a covenant people for Him. 
1 Peter 2:9 reminds us:
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (NLT).
Christians are a chosen people, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. 

We have a personal relationship with God, but that personal relationship is lived out in the context of community. We are in this together. Which means we have a responsibility to and for each other. None of us should try to walk the journey of faith alone. It is crucial that we help each other as much as possible because our lives are linked through Jesus.

I bring this up because I think our focus on a “personal” relationship with God sidetracks us from what God has really called us to be—a covenant people. 

Leon Morris in The Atonement wrote:
It mattered intensely to Old Testament Israel that the nation was in covenant relationship with the one and only God. All its thinking and living revolved around this fact. (p. 22)
Israel is not a great example of covenant faithfulness, but I still wonder what the church would be like if our thinking and living revolved around the reality that we are in a covenant relationship with God. 

Knowing that we are in a covenant relationship with God, that extends beyond our personal relationship with Him, leads us to consider other people. We become responsible for helping, encouraging, forgiving, and teaching one another, because that is God expectation for His people.

Galatians 6:1-3 (NLT):
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Let this be the description of our lives as we live in a covenant relationship with God that is both personal and communal. 

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...