Wednesday, April 03, 2013
We've Got To Change Marriage
Christian Marriage is not Jewish Marriage 2.0. We’ve got to take it out of the former covenant so that it matches up with who and what believers have become and where God is in the New Covenant—He is in us. That changes everything. Think what He can do from where He is now. And that’s Christianity.
But let’s back up a bit and get some context to this.
The apostle Paul told us that he had been crucified with Christ, and that he no longer lived but Christ in Him. Paul had become a new creation, and life was now by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh. Life arrived and was directed by what God in Paul did, and not by any other means. We know that this is true for every Christian. We also know that life by the Spirit means He will produce in us what Christ is like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s His work to do in us, and He’s particularly good at it. We, on the other hand, are wonderfully lousy at the fruit of the Spirit—thousands of years have proven it—but He is perfect.
That production of life is going to benefit you personally, as well as all those around you. Christ in you is exceptionally good at relationships—all of them—including marriage. We have the Great Lover Himself within us. He is our hope, and a very real one. 1 John 4:8 says that, “God is love.” He is the original source. He doesn’t experience shortages of love or run out of it either. “Sorry, Vicky. Come back next week. I’m expecting a new shipment.”
God is love, and genuine love comes from Him. Relationship with God is the only relationship that can actually produce authentic love. That’s why we become so attracted and devoted to Him; we do it for love! No matter how good any other relationship is, it cannot produce God’s love—it can only be a receiver of it. (Do you suppose there might be a plan there?) And God has come to live in people, a staggering new development, making every other plan obsolete. Forever.
So when it came to marriage, Paul did not Christianize the former union between male and female, adding nifty new promises and commitments, working toward a sort of Jewish Marriage 2.0. Instead, he put it into the context of the new reality of Christ in us, who is revealed in us by the grace and work of the Holy Spirit. It could be said that marriage during the Old Covenant, the male and female union that uniquely produced life, prefigured Christ joining Himself to mankind in the New Covenant gift of new and eternal life.
So the headline news of Christianity is not, “Hey! We can do this better than the Jews ever did. Watch this, God!” Christianity is not Judaism 2.0. The premier aspect of Christianity is, “We have God living in us, and He has all the life, love and ability necessary for every situation and relationship. We watch for Him inside and offer ourselves to Him.”
This is why Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). He is where our rest is. He does the work in us for situations and people! But try quoting that verse to people hard at work on their marriage and not only will they tell you that you’re absolutely wrong, they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. . .which should make the point that they don’t believe they are alien in this world. This is the position every born again vessel of God has in the world: “Christ in me, for every situation and relationship, including marriage.” Knowing that God is in us, we go out amongst people and give ourselves to them and see what happens. More accurately, we see how God happens. It makes everything adventurous, and our focus remains within, upon Christ.
In the context of New Covenant marriage, just like the church, wives have the unique position of knowing where God is (inside), and of then offering themselves to their husbands. This means Christ in them for their husbands. Husbands, with Christ in them as well, have the unique position of offering themselves to their wives just as Christ did for the church. This means Christ in them for their wives. Do you see what that means? Christ for everybody! That’s the plan.
This is why, when it came to Christian marriage counseling, Paul told the Corinthians an otherwise odd thing: if they could not remain single, but chose instead to marry, they were to avoid being “concerned” with their marriage and “how they might please their spouse” by instead remaining singularly devoted to Jesus. Paul didn’t mean it as a way to degrade or cheapen marriage, but as a way to elevate and position it as a receiver of God’s life and love. (See 1 Corinthians 7:29-35) In other words, “Stay in the knowledge of God’s love for you—make that your only concern—and He, who is now in you, will produce what He is like for your spouse. Life! In that way, God will be evident in you. That’s how God benefits! (So does your spouse!) And that is the New Covenant plan—Christ in you.”
Now, you’ve got to go see this, so read 1 Corinthians 7:29-35. Take your time with it, and knowing what you do about the New Covenant and Christ in you, see if this doesn’t make sense and explain why Christian marriage is so messed up today. We’ve got our fleshly, grubby hands all over it. We’ve taken over the New Covenant delivery vehicle of God’s grace—the union of a man and a woman—and made it our own work. And that will not work.
This may seem terribly foreign to you because the church hasn’t been talking about it much, but we’ve got to. I’ve written a lot about it in my book, “God’s Astounding Opinion of You,” so I won’t give more time to it here. But go get it, if you haven’t already. Here’s my ministry web site address for it (http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html), and you can also get it at bookstores and all of the usual online locations in either regular or eBook format.
That’s it for now. See you later.
(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “We’ve Got To Change Marriage,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. You’ll find the video a bit down my wall, or click on the following link: http://youtu.be/L4tri2WGvBg)