As we and many have said great strains are being put on the people of the nation and indeed the world. We all from time to time, need to re-evaluate the priorities of life and the way that we do things. We as church/ministry leaders and the teams around us have been no exception to this. Along with these extra strains, we have been contending with an increased attack on the church – on us as followers of Christ, an attack that has been with us since the fall.
Today, we seem to be in a culture that is saturated with sex and self-actualization – idolatry where some, maybe many, are fearful of talking about marriage particularly in the sense of God’s design. We have a responsibility for the health, the spiritual health, of the church and this flows on to the nation. We are the game-changers working to the plan – God’s plan, we do not need more marketing plans or campaigns. We need to be more than cheerleaders, motivational speakers as we seek to stir, to shake and convict so that change for good, for righteousness takes place in lives, marriages, families.
Probably many will agree that marriage is hard and will have empathy with what Martin Luther wrote in “The Estate of Marriage” in 1522 with an opening of “How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others.” However, he said a little later “But timidity is no help in an emergency; I must proceed. I must try to instruct poor bewildered consciences and take up the matter boldly”. Some things do not seem to change much! We need to teach the difficult truths, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17 [NKJV]
It seems, that even in the minds of some within the church that marriage is a capstone, a crowning achievement of a young adult life, whereas in the past many viewed marriage as part of the foundation to being adult. At that time being newly married and poor was common, it was difficult but being poor was often just temporary. Today it seems that being poor is a sign that you are not yet ready for marriage – as Russel Moore [Theologian and writer] wrote in his book “The Storm Tossed Marriage” marriage is increasingly a “vehicle of self-actualization” rather than a setting for self-sacrifice.
We in the church need to continue to show the world what marriage really is, marriage is not changing but numerically the number of weddings held are in retreat. At a time when there is a greater choice in everything good and bad fewer people actually want what marriage is.
How we in the church live our marriages, is not only seen within the church and our immediate family. How we show real love, compassion and yes sacrifice could just make a person of any age, married or not, say “I want something like that.”
As previously said, ministering to marriage can be hard work but a good starting place is to use some of the tools that are available eg: The Marriage Course, Focus on the Family Australia, Power to Change Australia are just a few randomly taken from those listed on our web site at https://marriageweek.org.au/marriage-helpers/
C. S. Lewis said in a radio talk on the BBC during World War II, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.” Later he included the words in his book “Mere Christianity.” His words are good for us today for us to be a church aiming for members of faith and discipleship and known for its love. This will be better ground for marriage between man and woman to take root and be firmly established.
Finally, remembering that marriage is an earthly arrangement designed by God and one which Jesus tells us will not be found in the post resurrection kingdom of God [Matthew 22:30]. However, it is a vehicle from which we will not only see blessings from God but also for spiritual progress with opportunities to exhibit compassion and sacrificial love.