What a great week for, “What I meant to say…” No one foibles like I! If you missed last week’s sermon, you may have heard that I represented a great sermon very poorly by reducing an idea full of beauty and passion to a bad bumper sticker saying. I am sorry that I used such a crass reference. Please, allow me to elaborate on what Keller meant for me to say.
In his sermon entitled “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb,” his ninth on this passage, Dr. Timothy Keller concludes by looking at two things: what we find in marriage that teaches us about Jesus and then what we find in Jesus that teaches us about marriage. The former is repentance and forgiveness. Genuine marriage is built on repenting and forgiving. Every day there is a cycle of constantly recognizing hurt and moving gently to the other person. Marriage is, by design, two different kinds of human beings learning to share each others perspectives, concerns, emotions… in truth their whole being. You cannot separate Mary Lu’s thinking from me. Foreign though it may be, it is mine. And I will never be the same because of what I have learned of me in her thought, her life, and her emotion.
It is perfectly fair to say, her weaknesses were tailor made for my needs. Our marriage is a blessing, not “in spite of” how differently we see the world. Rather, God’s design for my blessing is through our differences, and some of those are blatantly sinful either way! God uses evil to bring about His will. I have the gospel, in a way that I would have never known, because of our mutual brokenness. To be sure, that process requires the development of a real expertise in forgiving and repenting.
The practice of forgiving and repenting at the level that marriage affords requires the kind of forgiveness and repentance we find in our walk with Christ. Marriage teaches us about our relationship with Him. He leads us to a thirst for real, deep, and abiding forgiveness in relationship. In that thirst, there comes a union that surpasses all other relationships. That is how marriage trains us for our relationship to Christ.
Greater, even than that, is the intimacy required to bear fruit. That is where I got… um became, um “poorly stated?”
In Romans chapter seven Paul offers, through the Holy Spirit, that we died to the law. We died to the law, he says specifically, so to be freed from our obligations and to marry another. Marriage is bound by this life. The woman who was married is no longer bound when her husband passes, but she is free to love another. This passage, rightly understood, is genuinely a picture of the intimacy necessary to bear fruit. It is a passage about the deepest intimacy. Jesus desires that you be released from your bondage to the tyrant law. He wants his bride to freely love him. He desires in that new marriage to bear fruit. We are His bride and he longs to see the fruit of our relationship born from the intimacy of the union of our being, “in Christ.”
The truth is, my inability with words bespeaks my ignorance! I need to hear for myself that Jesus is not a proposition. He is not a philosophical syllogism. He is not an article, nor an object to be academically debated. He is a lover who desires to move to heal at the depths of our wounds. Scars that were left so deeply can only find their healing in the intimacy of His deeper embrace. The most profound marriage wouldn’t begin to scratch at the surface of that kind of intimacy.
Jesus longs to bear fruit in your life. That kind of fruit bearing comes from an intimacy that holds no bounds of access or exposure. People and dogs and rabbits and guppies can consummate a relationship, but only Jesus, as the glorious bridegroom, can move to you with the intimacy of affection that cleanses your deepest stain.
One friend said, “You know, I got one good thing out of your sermon…” he went on but not without noting, even in the tone of his own voice, how enthusiastic and successful he considered it to get ONE thing… like the other weeks he got, … um, maybe nothing?
Well, thank you to my friends who allow me to struggle. I am grateful for your forgiveness and I trust that the few short paragraphs above give maybe even two things that came to me through this series. Marriage teaches us about forgiveness and repentance and we find that in our relationship with him. Secondly, the intimacy I find required for Christ to bear fruit in my life teaches me about that which was designed for my wife and I to share. I am so grateful for her today. She couldn’t be better fit for me.
I trust you have found the same. Your spouse’s strengths, and weaknesses alike, were created in them just for you! Will you join me in rejoicing over both and His deep love for you?