Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marriage//Church//and the Comparison Game.

Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV

 I've been thinking a lot lately about marriage and the church. How the church is the bride of christ and how we are in a sense stewards of the bride of christ, being members of it. I see local autonomous congregations as all being apart of the global bride. Lot's of them doing lot's on different ministries, but all having the same goal, the glory of God. But, somehow, there ends up being disdain and strife in this body. Why? People leave to go to a "better" church. Because the church they were at was not "good enough." This will not be a post about how you should stay at your church no matter what, due to the fact that there are churches that are unhealthy and sometimes in life you just have to move on from a place. This is about the comparison game.


 I recently was in a community group where we talked about marriage relationships being dynamic, they are fluid, with different seasons requiring different ways of loving each other. Sometimes learning to love a person who has changed. My wife recently became a mother and I a father. It has been a challenge for each of us to learn how to love each other in light of the change in our family dynamic. For me, I've been afforded less alone time with my wife and she thinks about things differently and does things differently. Essentially she's become a different person. So, that being said, does that give me the right to let our relationship suffer or stop loving her or just call it quits and get a lawyer? Well, that depends on your view of what marriage is. 

 You see, in this day and age marriage is often said to be about "love." Which in a lot of respects is a true statement. However, that's not really what a marriage is made of. Marriage is made up of sacrifice. It's the back bone of a long lasting and fruitful relationship. If a marriage is to last, by the way it's designed, you are required to sacrifice. A lot! Things like what you think are the best use of your time, what you want to eat for dinner, what you want to watch on TV, where you want to go on vacation and whether or not you get to relax in the evening. See this all sounds miserable. "I don't want to do that." Exactly! Marriage (and family for that matter) is about doing what is best for the family and not what you want. Our selfishness is put under a spotlight when people first get married because they find out the other person wants different things sometimes. 

"Marriage is made up of sacrifice. 
It's the back bone of a long lasting 
and fruitful relationship."

 So, to say marriage is about love is not false, if to you love is about sacrifice. When you've been married for a number of years you find that you also have to sacrifice your desires. Even desires about what you want your marriage to look like. Because, life happens. This is why marriage must be dynamic. 

 My pastor always says "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken." If you have a love that is flexible and plans/desires/expectations that are flexible they will not be broken when life changes the way you have to do them. You see, Jesus loved the church so much he gave his very life for us. More than that, he left his home in heaven to come to earth. He set aside his glory and lived humbly that we might have life. THIS is marriage. To set aside your glory leave what you call home behind and love in such a way that it looks to the world around you that your desires have died.
 See, when our marriage starts to change and we don't like it we start to see other peoples marriage. We start to see other men's wives other wive's husbands (Deuteronomy 5). This is when we find ourselves in trouble. The comparison game. "Why isn't my wife like so and sos wife?" "Why does so and sos life look so much better?"

 Here is where my comparison of marriage and the church come together.

 The comparison game is made so much easier by social media. We are able to hop online and see what everyone else is doing and then compare. This has made life for those leading churches difficult. Now, you can hop online and hear a better preacher than the one you hear at church. Which is fine, nothing pleases a pastor than his people working to become better christ followers and not asking him to be the sole source of their spiritual nourishment. But, what it can do is help the comparison game. "Why doesn't pastor so and so preach like this." "Why doesn't our church do this song more often?" "Why aren't we taking mission trips to Africa?" Sometimes there are a place for these questions. However, if they are not asked in the presence of those they are not directed towards they become disdain, as you formulate a better way of doing ministry than your church leaders. Then, you ask yourself the question "maybe it's time to look for a new church?" Again, I think that there are times when you cannot stay at a church for very good reasons. However, if the source of the desire to leave comes from conversations you've had with yourself about how unsatisfied you are. You are becoming the prey of The Comparison Game. 

 As followers of christ we are not called to have all the answers and go around flaunting those to everyone so that we develop a lot of enemies and very few friends who believe exactly the way we do. If you expressed all of your unfiltered thoughts and everyone had to agree with you to be "right" you'd be alone in your rightness. Only one person has been completely right. His name is Jesus, and we describe him as righteous. 

I hope this encourages you to look at life without comparing things. Simply, enjoy your life. Explore your God. Let him be satisfying. LOVE PEOPLE.

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