By Alex Anderson, Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church
So here is God’s original reason for marriage. In Genesis, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Among other things, marriage creates intimacy. Intimacy is the cure for loneliness. Yep…loneliness.
I once heard someone say, “I’m committed to being married, but my intimacy is conditional upon the other person.” They were not committed to intimacy. The problem with that comment is that it defines roommates, not Biblical marriage.
You don’t commit just to live together when you marry. That’s not what God meant a marriage commitment to be. What God wants is a commitment to love and intimacy until death do you part.
Marriage is a ministry of service to God that is directed at your spouse on His behalf.
Marriage is an act of faith and obedience, not between you and your spouse, but between you and your savior, Jesus Christ. You commit to cure loneliness for another person for life…on Christ’s behalf.
Now here is where the power of the Gospel kicks in. Do you stay married or just stay together? Neither. You stay committed to intimacy.
You cannot do this without the power of the Gospel. You can only do this out of your recreated spirit—
not your human soul (mind-will-emotions) only. The only way to do this is through the power of Holy Spirit.
So how does that work?
Here’s where the power of the gospel comes into action in a marriage.
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, stayed committed to the cross—in the face of torture and death—because of the joy God had set before Him.
In other words, Jesus was Holy Spirit empowered (He was also baptized with Holy Spirit’s power when He was water baptized by John the Baptist). Jesus, like a spirit-filled Christ follower, could “act before He felt.” He did not need to feel it before He did it. He would do it (die on the cross), then feel the joy the father promised…later.
We commit to intimate marriage the same way Jesus committed to the cross. Take a look at this.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
Hebrews 12:2 NLT.
The word “disregarding” means He belittled or thought very little of the shame, torture and death He would endure on the cross. Like Jesus, we have to keep our eyes on the “joy” that is set before us in marriage…life-giving intimacy.
Now you may be thinking, What if it’s one-sided and my love is never returned? How do I stay married to someone who is not as committed as I am to life-giving intimacy?
It’s not about them. It’s about you. It’s about doing it anyway, because you don’t consider their lack of intimacy your joy…it’s not important. What is important are your actions towards your spouse. By the way, the real odds on them not returning love are very slim anyway—if they are a Christ follower. Remember, the same Holy Spirit that lives in you lives in them. He will be active about bringing heart changes to your spouse. So like with Jesus and the cross, this is your act of faith.
Like Jesus, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. What’s the prize? For husbands— love your wife like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (husbands, ask your wife what that means to her). This is your goal, guys—nothing else. Gals, for you, it’s honor and respect for your husbands (wives, ask your husband what that means to him). That’s it. That’s your goal. (Ephesians 5: 25-33)
Now notice that neither one of these goals is dependent on whether or not they deserve it. It’s your personal goal to do it. The goal is your “joy.” It’s not about them, it’s about you and God. Everyone is called to ministry. If you are married, to do this for your spouse is your ministry. Remember your first and greatest ministry is to your spouse before anyone or anything else. This is how God engineered our loneliness to be satisfied—through life-giving intimacy.
So what do I do now, you say? Ask Holy Spirit to increase the grace (unconditional love) level in your heart and start acting the part. Act first, feel later, is the answer.
Yes, you can do it.
So how long do you do this? Remember the phrase “Till death do us part?” There was not a quick way to the cross. It took Jesus thirty-three years to get there. So get after it. You might say, my spouse is a knucklehead, and they may never change. Their change is not your goal. Serving the Lord by serving your spouse—that is the goal.
As a Christ follower, you were married to serve, not be served! Just like Jesus said, “The son of man (Jesus’ favorite title for himself) came not to be served but to serve.” Mark 10:45.
Okay…go get ’em tiger!
To your spiritual health,
Pastor Alex Anderson
Author, Dangerous Prayers