Monday, August 15, 2011

Founded on Better Promises

Ah, summer: muggy weather, mosquitoes, sweet tea, grilling, baseball, and . . . weddings. I went to four of 'em this summer in a six-week span, even standing up in one as a groomsman. Not all the couples were disciples of Jesus, and this was evident in one of the ceremonies. The prayer was made to a generic "God," but not in Jesus' name. And rather than being joined to one another in self-giving love, the vows and readings reflected a very self-oriented approach to marriage: "You can have my love, but you can never have my soul, for my soul must remain free." "You must accept me as I am, not expecting or hoping to change me. It is respect for our individuality that unites us and makes marriage possible."

While this deeply saddened me, for "love is not self-seeking" (1 Cor. 13:5), it gave me peace to know that my marriage with Olivia is "founded on better promises" (Heb. 8:6). We have chosen to embrace our own need for change and death to our old selves and personal desires so we can become "one flesh" in glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, forever praised; and we know that we need each other as partners mediating God's Word and grace toward that end. We know that we will never part until death, lest we incur God's strict judgment. And we know that sacrificial, giving love is the greatest blessing of all, for in it Christ abides with us. All this really gives me peace, knowing the wholeness and stability it brings to our lives, the shalom reflected in Psalms 128 and 144. So often it's hard to see the joy and rest of embracing the cross and going against the grain of the world, but I sure realized it that day.

I know our marriage vows aren't so wonderful, though, because we are great promise-keepers. Far from it! Rather, we know we can make such commitments with confidence because our own lives have been founded upon the better promises God has made to us and fulfilled in Christ: the promise to forgive us of all our sins, so that we too can admit our wrongs and forgive one another; the promise that we would see our own brokenness and unloving ways, so that we can embrace change and growth; and the promise to be for our good and carry us always, so that we can ever depend on him for strength to love and bear challenges until death do us part.

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