Sunday, May 30, 2010

Marriage

Scripturally speaking, marriage between a man and a woman is akin to the relationship the church has with Christ. Jesus is the bridegroom, and the church at large is the bride. What does Jesus require of the bride?  Faithfulness. What is faithfulness? Well, in the case of our relationship with Christ, He spells it out by saying that anyone that claims to love Him, does what he commands. What He commands is that we love God, and love one another. He doesn’t promise the church that it’s going to be easy to be faithful. As a matter of fact, He tells us plainly that we will be persecuted, hated, rejected, etc, just like he was. So, being married to Christ is not necessarily going to be easy. Your faith is going to be tested. You are going to be under constant attack by the enemy. God is not going to come to your rescue every time you have an issue. You will have struggles. You will get sick. You will suffer pain. Eventually, if the Lord tarries long enough, you’re even going to suffer death. The test in all this is will you continue to be faithful to Christ even when life is painful, frustrating, and difficult, and God seems to be nowhere in sight? Well, my friends, that same test applies to a human marriage. Just as God wants you to stay faithful and committed to Him in spite of all the tests and trials that come along, in like manner, He also wants you to stay faithful to your human marriage partner even when or if things do not turn out the way you had hoped for or planned. Going by Christ, the only real grounds for divorce is adultery, and even under those circumstances, it’s questionable that remarriage is permitted. Yes, if your marriage partner dies, you are free to remarry. The way I read it, though, you would need to find another widow/widower, or a virgin to remarry. That could be tough. How serious of a decision then is divorce if you go by the ‘book’? Quite frankly, if you go by the ‘book’, it’s unlikely that you will ever remarry and, subsequently, ever have sexual relations again. Yes, God wants you to make your marriage work. God wants you to see your marriage to your human partner in the same way you see your marriage to Christ, committed for the long haul. God wants you to be a faithful and committed marriage partner even when it hurts, especially when it hurts. And let’s not forget, that a sin against your marriage partner, is a sin against God as well.

Malachi 2: 13-16…Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

1 Corinthians 7: 10-11…To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Matthew 19: 3-9…Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Mark 10: 11-12…He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

Romans 7:2…For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.

Hebrews 13:4…Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

John 3:29…The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

Revelation 19:9…Then the angel said to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’" And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Ephesians 5:24-33…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 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. 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 his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Job 1:8-11…Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

Job 2: 2-5…And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going to and fro in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The tenuous nature of life as we know it…

Life on planet earth can be a wild ride. As we know, historically, the earth has gone through some interesting events. Ice ages, volcanic episodes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, meteor showers, hurricanes, tornados, etc, come to mind. You just never know what might occur on the planet next, or for that matter, what the universe might inflict on the planet. In the interim, a relatively calm period in conjunction with scientific advancements, has likely created the most numerous, dependent, and fragile society yet. Most of us aren’t farmers anymore. Most of us don’t live by the river. Most of us don’t hunt our own food and make our own clothes. Individually and as a country, we are now more inter-dependent than we are independent. Ultimately, in one way or another, most of us rely on others to provide for us, whether with job opportunities or the products and services we depend on. Services like those that provide safe drinking water, electricity, natural gas, sewage management, phone, internet, etc. Products like food, clothing, vehicles, gasoline, and you name it. The list could go on and on. Complicating the fragile nature of these inter-dependencies, we have built huge cities right on the coast lines, in deserts, floodplains, and on or near major fault lines. We have houses perched on cliffs. Apparently we are not concerned enough about the possibility of natural disasters to make better choices. Remember Katrina? Imagine a devastating event that affected much of the earth. In our current situation, it wouldn’t take much in the way of a natural disaster to potentially cause a human catastrophe beyond measure. Interestingly enough, mankind has potentially created his own catastrophes as well. He has been so irresponsible, incapable, and/or corrupt regarding governing and finances, that the whole world’s economy appears to be on the brink of collapse. He’s also built a weapons arsenal (nuclear, biological, and chemical) that could wipe out life on the planet. And let’s not forget the possibility that man’s irresponsibility regarding the stewardship of the planet could also potentially upset the balance enough to wreak havoc. Once again I think of scripture. In the book of Revelation it speaks of a time when all the merchants will mourn because no one buys their cargoes anymore. In the books of Mark and Matthew, Jesus speaks of a time so bad that no one would have survived unless God stepped in and shortened those days. Bottom line, it’s not a matter of if catastrophe strikes, but when. Jesus said to ‘watch’, and to be prepared. As near as I can tell, being prepared ultimately means keeping our focus and being busy about His business (Matt 24:44). Remember the parable of the 10 virgins? Some were prepared, were ready, and some were not. Remember the parable of the talents? Some had invested wisely, and were rewarded, and some had not and were cast out. Are we ready or will we be surprised by what lies ahead and ultimately….His coming?

Matthew 24:37-39…As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:42-44…"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

1 Thessalonians 1-4...Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.