My wife, Jessica, and I are total opposites in many ways.
She’s bold and overtly passionate about her faith. I am unassuming and a bit more contemplative. She’s emotionally driven. I’m more intellectually driven (we’re both trying to be more Holy Spirit driven). I’m a diehard college football fan. She wouldn’t care if college football…died. She takes the bull by the horns. I try to talk the bull out of its anger. I lean Reformed, she leans Wesleyan.
But we are best friends.
Last Sunday was our six-year wedding anniversary (I remembered it before she did!). We are both awestruck by the way God has blessed the fruit of our love with two healthy happy boys. As my beautiful helpmeet, she challenges and encourages me in ways I cannot completely explain.She has been very gracious and longsuffering with my chronic selective hearing condition that flares up every time something breaks or needs fixin around the house. : )
Our culture has cast a certain level of utopic sheepishness on the topic of relationships. Match making, whether virtual or personal, is a multimillion dollar business. Through mags, music and the movies the entertainment industry narrows the central aim of human existence into this one uninspiring sterile vision:
Finding “the right one.”
We’re obsessively looking for our “perfect match” the one who “completes us” or the one who is the “best fit.” The respective matchmakers of the world make bank by selling the idea that romantic relationships should be predicated around common interests (if you’ve happened to find your mate online more power to you!). Christians should not be so quick to assume this societal norm in their relationships (especially marriage).
I can say with a sincere level of certainty that God does not necessarily want us to find a perfect match according to our shared interests. Marriage isn’t for those still stuck in fairy tales and Nicholas Sparks novels. On the biblical basis of Romans 8, God does not just want you to find the person to make you happy in a fleeting sense, rather God wants you to find the person who will make you more Christlike in the eternal sense.
The vision for marriage is the same vision for the whole Christian life:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:28-29)
All things work together for your good. We love to claim Romans 8:28 on those bad days where life punches us in the throat. But what exactly is God’s definition of “good” here? The Bible conveniently answers in the next verse: God uses everything in our life, to make us more and more Christlike. Romans 8:29
I would guess the “all things” being worked would include romantic-less marriages, foreclosures, unthankful spouses, sharp tongued wives and fat lazy husbands.
If married, God has blessed us with a mate that will help fulfill His destiny for us from the foundation of the world: To make us more humble, loving, serving, and bold like His Son.
If single, don’t go after who makes you comfortable or who has the most in common with you. Rather ask, “Will this person challenge me and help conform me to the image of Christ?”
As God uses our spouse to chip away our selfishness and sinfulness it doesn’t feel pleasant at the time. But through the perpetual cycle of sinning against one another and forgiving one another each mate becomes progressively more and more Christ like through the years.
Our spouses aren’t just there to make us happy.
There is something far weightier happening within each marriage. Our spouse is there to be a blessed hammer of God that knocks off and shatters the remnants of the fallen nature still latent within us.
So let’s celebrate our spouses, and not just on anniversaries. Especially if they are the polar opposite of us. Especially if our relationship may contain those common marital annoyances, gripes, and heated toilet seat disagreements. With every irritation or squabble the very nature of Jesus is being formed in both parties.
And even if we do fall out of love we can’t fall out of covenant. Jesus married Himself to an unfaithful wife. The marriage covenant was signed and sealed with His own precious blood. This supernatural union between Christ and the church grants sinners the power to remain faithful to one another.
My wife and I love each other deeply. But our love pales in the light of the Father’s relentless love, which forgives and cleanses dirty adulterers, and molds them into the character of His own beloved Son.
No matter what, He’s working all things together for our good. He’s making us more and more like Christ.