Monday, November 24, 2014

we are intimately united with Christ: why marriage matters

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We're just going to jump right in, so fair warning.

Ultimately, God didn't create marriage for you. God didn't create marriage for your happiness. God didn't create marriage for you to fill up a hole in your heart that could only be filled by a "soul mate."

Instead, God created marriage for Himself. God created marriage to be a picture of Himself and His unbreakable, unyielding, unshakable love for His people. Marriage is a visual and physical representation of Christ and His bride, the church.

But let me back up a bit.

First, I have to share a song with you. I basically have it on repeat all.the.time. It's called "Oh God" by Citizens. Go listen to it and come back. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Height nor death nor anything else could pull us apart

We are joined as one by the blood
Hope will rise as we become more than conquerors through
The One Who loved the world.

One thing that I love about Citizens and seriously appreciate is that all of their lyrics are basically scripture verbatim. These lyrics are mostly taken from Romans 8 where Paul is telling us how he is convinced that nothing at all can separate us from the love of Christ.

But why is that? Why was he so thoroughly convinced that the believer cannot be separated from Jesus, from His love?

For the answer we should take a look in Hebrews. Chapter 3 verse 14 says, "For we have become partakers of Christ." What does it mean to partake of something? Well, often it means that we share in or join in something. That definition fits here. But there is also another definition of partake that we need to consider and that is to eat or drink, as in to partake of food. And what does Jesus say about Himself? "I am the Bread of Life" John 6:35. And later, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink" John 7:37.

When we eat food, at the molecular level, it becomes part of our physical being. Once we partake of it, once food enters into our system, once it begins to break down into sugars and energy and our cells begin to use it, it cannot be separated from us. What we eat, the food and drink that we partake of, essentially become a part of us. 

And Jesus is like that.

When I partake of Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, He physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally becomes a part of me. We have been intimately united with Christ. We are, as the lyrics above state, "joined as one." And as the old hymn says, "Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord... Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one" (Be Thou My Vision). Every fiber of my body contains Jesus. He is in me and I am in Him and nothing can separate us. Nothing can be done to me or can happen around me that can remove the security and unity that I have with and in and through Christ

That is why Paul can so confidently say that he is convinced that "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height no depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38,9)

Christian, if you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you cannot be separated. Nothing can separate you from Him.

So the other day I was writing all of this out so I could better process it and that truth that nothing can separate us caused me to think of Matthew 19. Perhaps you're familiar with it. The Pharisees are questioning Jesus about divorce in order to test Him. When they ask Him if it's lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause, Jesus gives this response:

They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. Matthew 19:4-6a

He's quoting directly from Genesis 2, where God first ordains marriage as between one man and one woman. And what does He say happens when a man marries his wife? They become one [flesh]. They are united as one. They are intimately united with one another, so much so that they are considered one flesh. They are no longer regarded as two, but now they are one. Matthew Henry explains this even further by saying that the relationship between husband and wife is closer than that of a mother and child or father and child, "A man’s children are pieces of himself, but his wife is himself. As the conjugal union is closer than that between parents and children." Here he is referring specifically to the statement that a man must leave his father and mother in order to be joined with his wife.

That, marriage, has to be a close relationship considering that a child comes from the seed and egg of his parents. He is then carried in his mother's womb and nursed at her breast. How could there possibly be a relationship or union closer than that? But there is. And it was created and ordained by God. 

And that is why marriage matters.

It matters so much that Jesus goes on to say that what God has joined together, let no man split apart, let no man separate

Are you starting to see the parallel here? When we become married and enter into a union with our spouse, no one should separate us. When we become a Christian and enter into a union with Christ, nothing can separate us. The picture that marriage provides of Christ and His bride is profound. Surely that is why Paul refers to it as a mystery. 

This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32

My intention here is not to get into a debate over circumstances in which divorce is allowed. But consider what marriage represents. If the bond between man and wife is to be a picture, a display of the unity we have in Christ, what should be allowed to separate it? Certainly not much. Nothing can separate me from Christ. Nothing. This is why Jesus says to the Pharisees, nothing should separate a man and his wife.

Marriage is that important.

And this is precisely why marriage is not ultimately for or about me. Certainly there will be joy and growth and benefits to me beyond measure, thanks be to God. But in the end, my marriage and your marriage is meant to glorify God; it was made and designed to point to someone and something far greater than us: Jesus and His unbreakable, unyielding, unshakable love for His people, the church.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the best posts on marriage I've ever read. YES. Thank you for this picture of what marriage should look like, modeled after the Church's relationship with Christ.