Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let Grace Break Through!

I’ve been looking back on some notes on marriage lately. There are so many couples, particularly those in Christian leadership, who are facing serious battles because the enemy is working hard to strike strategically. We must stand firm, folks! We must band together in prayer, encouragement, and even exhortation with one another.

In his book, “This Momentary Marriage,” John Piper wrote something that I think is absolutely critical for us to grasp:

“…the main meaning of marriage is to display the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. In other words, marriage was designed by God, most deeply and most importantly, to be a parable or a drama of the way Christ loves his church and the way he calls the church to love him.”

Due to sleep deprivation at our house, grace has sometimes been more difficult for Larry and I to extend towards each other lately. I certainly resonate with Pastor Piper’s description that marriage is a DRAMA!

Piper cautions us against becoming so familiar with a passage like Ephesians 5:23-25 that we fail to see how amazing it is!

Look at Ephesians 5:23-25:

The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

And now look at how Piper expounds upon it:

“What is the most important meaning of marriage? It is found in the words: “as Christ…as the church…as Christ.” The ultimate meaning of marriage is not in marriage itself. It is not in the husband and not the wife and not the offspring. The ultimate meaning of marriage is in “as Christ,” “as the church,” “as Christ.” Marriage is a magnificent thing because it is modeled on something magnificent and points to something magnificent. And the love that binds this man and woman in marriage is a magnificent love because it portrays something magnificent…The greatness of marriage is not in itself. The greatness of marriage is that it diplays something unspeakably great, namely, Christ and the church.”

There are some reading this now who will say, “but my spouse has treated me so poorly, even abusively, that it is time for the end of anyone’s reasonable extension of grace.” To this I must remind us all that God’s love is rarely REASONABLE and that the whole point of grace is that it is UNDESERVED! What was that Jesus said, “…seventy TIMES seven…?”

This is not to say that we throw away healthy boundaries or completely ignore sin. It is simply to challenge those who are hurting to reconsider that the ugly drama unfolding in your marriage is portraying the same kind of ugly drama that unfolded when Christ was crucified. Our battle isn’t against our spouse. It’s against SIN. Mankind sinned — over and over again, in fact — and yet Jesus surrendered Himself so that we might live. He loved us FIRST — BEFORE we loved Him.

When we do battle on behalf of our marriages, it’s about so much more than preserving a family unit or making some heroic comeback. It’s about fighting a magnificent battle to display the greatest picture available of what Christ’s love for His church looks like. It is EVIDENCE to a hurting and torn-up world that Christ’s love BREAKS THROUGH and ALWAYS WINS.

I will even be bold enough to say, we all need to go have some intimacy with our spouses tonight if for no other reason than to claim one of Christ’s most powerful tools in our arsenal for strong marriage. And that kind of WARFARE is the battle at its most gorgeous!

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

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