10/4/09 "Different, Yet One" Mark 10:2-16
Today's sermon is about God's gift of marriage, how God can take two different people and unite them together with one goal and purpose, to be united and to help and encourage each other on the journey through life.
Men and women are so different. Looks, actions, passions, expressions, goals. God has made it so two people so different can come together and He unites them in the oldest institution on earth. God created marriage in the first pages of the Bible. It is a blessed union, above all others.
Why get married? Can't a person have all these things without committing themselves to one person? What if you change your mind later? You only get one life here. Should you be bound to the same person for your whole life?
In marriage a man and a woman pledge their love and faithfulness to each other in the sight of God. "We are gathered here in the sight of God and of His Church to witness and bless the joining of this man and woman in holly marriage. This is an honorable estate, which God himself has instituted and blessed, and by which he gives us a picture of the very communion of Christ and His bride, the Church."
Some wonderful blessings in biblical marriage: "The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity, and when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord."
When we come to God and ask Him to join us with our loved one, the first reason is joy. Joy from loving and receiving love. But also we want God to join us. We can unite ourselves in various ways. People live together, enjoy all the functions of marriage. Govt. will even unite 2 men or 2 women, or some want a 3 or 4 way marriage. Govt. Will get around to that eventually. In the Bible, and in the true Church it is one man, one woman. That's how God made it. He promises to bless those he unites.
Another purpose is for help and comfort in good times and bad. No matter what happens, you've got someone to help you. Another perspective.
My friends Ruth and Charlie. 12 years ago Charlie had a stroke. Can't talk, walk. Ruth did everything. Lived up to her namesake. Wherever you go, I will go. This year Ruth got cancer. She's now with the Lord. Charlie needs help. Sons. But no one can replace Ruth. That's the way God made it. To help one other no matter what, until one dies. Beautiful.
Third purpose: Where God wants, is for the birth of children, and raising them to be Christians. When I get something from the store, I can't wait to put it together. If all else fails, read the instructions.
There's no instruction manual with kids. You just have them. Instructions are found elsewhere, in the Bible. The number one task is bringing your kids to know Who made them and what their purpose is. We teach them about the love of God, how valuable each one of us is to him, and what Jesus did to bring us back from alienation from God, and the consequence of eternal death in hell. We love our kids, but God gave His only child to die for us.
There is no other place this truth is taught better than in a Christian home. That is why God gives children. If you aren't married, don't have any children, or your children are raised, God gives you opportunity through the ministry of this church and through it's school. How many of you attended there, or another Christian school? Then you know great things are happening here for our community and world.
The problem is our marriages are lasting, and the children are suffering. How is a child supposed to learn how to be a mother or a father, if there isn't one in the home regularly. Or there is, there's continual complaining and argument? What kind of child is going to see that and want to follow God's direction and enter into marriage some day?
No wonder the Pharisees asked Jesus if they could divorce their wives! Things have only gotten worse since then. Our task is to go back to the basics of marriage, and repent of our wrong ideas, and let God heal and bless our lives together.
The basis of marriage is this sentence: "In the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. That's from Genesis 2. Then Jesus added, "So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
When Christians marry, they are to remain married for life because of what marriage represents. It's a picture of the love of Jesus for the church. Jesus does not give up on us because we sin. Christians can do some very sinful things. God stays with us. Willing to forgive. We can sever ourselves from Him, but He never gives up on us. That's why marriage is for life. If your spouse hurts you so bad you want to give up, remember that God doesn't give up on you.
Now Jesus said that there one reason for divorce: adultery. That includes sexual unfaithfulness and desertion. God never does that. He doesn't have other people he loves more than us. He doesn't leave us on our own. So we are not to do that to the person He unites us to.
But most of the time marriages fail because we loose sight of the reason we got married in the first place. When somebody better looking, or wealthier comes along, or we are tired of working on our problems, we're gone. Marriage over.
Why did we get married in the first place? We needed help. Help to go through life. Help to live a godly life. Help to give us security. Help to focus us from all the things we can do, to those things which are obedient to God, and glorify him by how we live. We need help, and our spouse pledges to help us.
How can a man and woman live together for the rest of their lives? There will be changes. Our bodies sure do change after 20 years! Other changes too. How can you continue to love someone who changes over the years? We promise to go through those changes together.
Ephesians 5. "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church, and sacrificed himself for her. Men, we are here not to assert ourselves over our wives, but to sacrifice our lives for their benefit. That's our service to them.
Paul also says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as to the Lord." That means follow your husband for the same reason you follow Christ, because you trust him with your life. Don't fight his leadership. Encourage it, especially when he makes a wise decision. Don't take over his job as leader. Follow him.
Right now marriage is a mess in America, and it doesn't look like it will get better any time soon. We can look to our own family trees and see how marriage is not honored, how our relatives live with other in a manner God has forbidden, and borne children out of wedlock.
We look to our own hearts and know we have not honored our own marriage vows. Maybe there was an affair, maybe not. But the eyes have wandered lustfully. We have argued with our spouse, said hurtful things. We have not honored each other as we promised, because we don't love each other as we promised. Our hearts do not love God as we should. When we fight, and the kids see it, we do not let the children come to Jesus either.
But the Lord still calls us his children. He comes to us, calling us through Baptism, preaching, Bible teaching, through liturgy, songs, and hymns. Calling us to be children of the heavenly father. Feeding us on his Word and on His body and Blood. He takes us in his arms, like a mother holds a baby and feeds him. God wants a more intimate relationship with us than even that. He has established the perfect relationship. He does everything to save us. We are to trust in him. Will that make all our other relationships perfect? No. But he does give us the key. Forgiveness. We receive that from God and share it with those around us.
Marriage is a gift. Two people, one flesh, one life. God bless marriage among us and help us to keep it pure.
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