Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The 'D' Word

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

Divorce is common place in this culture. More marriages end in divorce than not, and the statistics differ very little between the members of God's Church and those outside of it. It's accepted. That doesn't make it right.

We've mentioned previously that the Christian marriage is meant to bring a physical representation of the spiritual relationship between God and His Church. That's why we have to run our marriages according to the design God has set. How, then, can we be the representatives of God to a lost world when we aren't maintaining our marriages? How can the lost people around us see the relationship God longs to have with us when our marriages end just like those who don't know God?

You may be divorced. I'm not trying to run you down. If you or your spouse is re-married, what's done is done, and there is very little that you can do about it at this point. (You may consider asking your ex-spouse for forgiveness, if you haven't already.) If you both remain single, you should pray over the possibility of reconciliation.

That thought may throw you for a loop, especially in the cases of a messy divorce or custody battle, or if he cheated or abused you. I'm not saying that you should walk up to his door and say, "I'm sorry. Please take me back. I'll do anything. Here I am!" and throw yourself on his floor. No, that would be stupid. I'm saying that you should consider the fact that God may not be done with His testimony in your lives. God can heal broken marriages.

If you are divorced, or if you are in a marriage that seems hopeless, allow me to say this: The Israelites were trapped between an army and a sea, with no place to go (Exodus 15). That's hopeless. Jesus had been dead for three days before He rose from the grave (Luke 23-24). That's hopeless. We were dead in our sins when Christ made the first move to save us from them (Ephesians 2). Dead! That's hopeless. God doesn't do hopeless. He fixes hopeless. When we assume that something is beyond repair, we are doubting the power of God.

1 Corinthians 7:11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.

"What? I have to be single forever?" Well, I'm still hoping that divorced readers will be able to return to their marriages. If you're the one who does the leaving, you should be prepared for a newly found call to singleness. If you just can't believe that God wants you to do that, you need to make sure that you're going by His rules and not your own. If you get left, though, I'm not sure that this passage is speaking to you. Obviously, you still have some responsibility in the outcome of your marriage, and you should still try to mend it, if possible. I'm just not convinced that you are required to remain single after your marriage comes to an end.

We don't take marriage seriously. There are too many people who don't realize the importance of marrying well. Some people don't want to leave their hometowns, and they end up marrying someone who's "as good as it's gonna get" for them. Others are just lonely, and they'll take just about anything. We have to make sure that when we enter into marriage, it's a lifelong commitment that isn't just based on love. Sure, we should definitely love each other, but we also have to make sure that we see eye-to-eye with our fiance on the fact that marriage isn't just about the two spouses, or even the spouses and their families. It's about the lost world getting a look at the truth of the Gospel.

That means a willingness to wait for the guy that God has designed for you. It means a desire for more than happiness out of a marriage. No marriage is always the source of deep happiness. Sometimes it's difficult. Every once in a while, even a good marriage can be pretty miserable. That isn't the point. The point is that God is being glorified in the way we run our homes. When we take marriage that seriously, we can usually find a way to make things work. We have to make a choice, though, to allow God to take first priority over everything else, including our dreams and romantic notions.

If you are coming out of a failed marriage, a break may be the best plan. It might be good to take some time and try to figure out what God wants you to do with your life at this point. If you've been divorced for a while, it may be time to take action and try to take your broken marriage to the throne of grace and allow God to fix it. If you are re-married, make sure that the marriage you are in now is glorifying to God. It isn't too late for this one. No matter where you are, whether happily married or broken-hearted, God has a good plan for you that can start from this moment! My prayer for you, dear Christian, is the same as Paul's prayer for the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:16-18 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom1 and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called -- his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

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