The picture of God as Creator is central to his authority, identity, and purpose. In fact, the Bible is framed around the fact that God is Creator. The first thing we learn about God in the book of Genesis is that he created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1); the last image of the New Testament shows God creating a new heaven and a new earth. When God says, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5), the word making is in the present tense. It’s an ongoing process. God walks into eternity creating. This is just one of several analogies that connect various aspects of marriage with our understanding of God. A giant thread runs throughout Scripture comparing God’s relationship to his people with the human institution of marriage.

The prophet Hosea leads us into a startling reality — that God views his people as a husband views his wife: “ ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master.” . . . I will betroth you to me forever’ ” (Hosea 2:16, 19). Think about the difference between a husband and a master — and all that these images conjure up in your mind. God wants us to relate to him with an obedience fueled by love and intimacy, not by self-motivated fear, and with a loyalty to a divine-human relationship, not a blind adherence to “principles.” A husband harbors a passion toward his wife that is absent in a master toward his slave. How do you view God — as a master or as a husband? Isaiah uses marital imagery to stress how God rejoices in his people: “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5).

We live in a world in which many people are simply too busy or too preoccupied to notice us. But God delights in us. We make his supernatural heart skip a beat. At times, Jesus himself employed this marital imagery, referring to himself as the “bridegroom” (Matthew 9:15) and to the kingdom of heaven as a “wedding banquet” (Matthew 22:1–14). This picture is carried over into the culmination of earthly history, as the book of Revelation talks about “the wedding of the Lamb” in which “his bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

For Christians seeking to gain spiritual insight from their marriage, these analogies provide the necessary ingredients for serious, contemplative reflection. The reason God became flesh was so that we might know him. Correspondingly, God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution for the benefit of humanity; he planted marriage among humans as another signpost pointing to his own eternal, spiritual existence.

As humans with finite minds, we need the power of symbolism in order to gain understanding. By means of the simple relationship of a man and a woman, the symbol of marriage can call up virtually infinite meaning. This will happen only when we use our marriage to explore God. The first purpose in marriage — beyond happiness, sexual expression, the bearing of children, companionship, mutual care and provision, or anything else — is to please God. The challenge, of course, is that it is utterly selfless living; rather than asking, “What will make me happy?” we are told that we must ask, “What will make God happy?” And just in case we don’t grasp it immediately, Paul underscores it a few verses later: “Those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

One of the reasons I am determined to keep my marriage together is not because doing so will make me happier (although I believe it will); not because I want my kids to have a secure home (although I do desire that); not because it would tear me up to see my wife have to “start over” (although it would). The first reason I keep my marriage together is because it is my Christian duty. If my life is based on proclaiming God’s message to the world, I don’t want to do anything that would challenge that message. And how can I proclaim reconciliation when I seek dissolution? This analogy of reconciliation does more than merely provide the purpose for our marriage; it also helps us live out this purpose, even when lightning strikes.

If I’m married only for happiness, and my happiness wanes for whatever reason, one little spark will burn the entire forest of my relationship. But if my aim is to proclaim and model God’s ministry of reconciliation, my endurance will be fireproof. Practicing the spiritual discipline of marriage means I put my relationship with God first. Just sticking it out is a victory in and of it and creates a certain glory. In a society where relationships are discarded with a frightening regularity, Christians can command attention simply by staying married. And when asked why, we can offer the platform of God’s message of reconciliation, followed by an invitation:

“Would you like to hear more about the good news of reconciliation?”

In this sense, our marriages can be platforms for evangelism. They can draw people into a truth that points beyond this world into the next. Everyone wants a great marriage; how many more might be attracted to Christianity if they saw, lived out in front of them, the choice fruits of Christians who have found satisfaction in their relationships by putting God first.

(Thomas, Gary L. (2015-08-04). Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? Zondervan).


Pastor Mark

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