When others look at the way you treat your spouse, do they see the love of Christ reflected? That concept has been on our minds all week (month, year, etc.)… it’s actually the aim of Marriage Missions —to help all of us “reveal and reflect the love of Christ within marriage.” And then this week, I read a few different blogs that brought this to the forefront again, and felt impressed by the Lord to bring it to you.
Love of Christ Reflected
Lori Byerly, from the great web site ministry, The Generous Wife, wrote something in a blog titled You Must Be a Christian that we hope you will prayerfully consider:
“I’ve been thinking about the early church and how they were known for their love. That was the distinguishing mark. ‘Wow, they really know how to love. They must be Christians!’ …What if our marriages reflected that concept? What if Christian marriages radiated His kind of love? And what if the world looked at us, and were envious of our marriages? Would they want our Jesus?
“I’m still mulling on that one. What would it take to look like that? What changes in my heart need to take place? How do I infect others with this God kind of love for their spouses? ‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.‘ (John 13:35 ESV)”
We hope you will prayerfully ponder the same.
Good Questions to Consider
And then to add to this, her husband Paul Byerly, from The Generous Husband, asked several questions in his blog. It is titled, A Friend of Your Marriage and has some questions in it that we believe are good ones for us ALL to ask ourselves about the love of Christ reflected:
• “Is your community/church a good place for your marriage? Does it support and protect marriages? Are you safer from divorce because of your community, or does it put you at greater risk?
• “What can YOU do to make those around you safer from divorce? We all lament the horrible divorce rate in the Church, but what are we doing about it? Are you mad enough about it to get in a friend’s face? Will you try to stop them from doing things that are bad for their marriage? Will you work to help them deal with bad choices (a.k.a. sin) and get past them? If a friend is looking for an excuse to divorce, will you tell them to knock it off and do the hard work to have a great marriage?”
Good questions, huh? What’s revealing about us though, is how we answer those questions, and how we live out those principles within our lives.
Love of Christ Reflected in Vibrant Marriage
Please keep in mind, something we believe with all our hearts:
“There is no brighter light than a strong and vibrant marriage. This doesn’t mean it isn’t messy or hard or that sometimes the feelings just aren’t there. And it doesn’t mean you won’t ever be attracted to someone else. But you refuse to follow those feelings. Instead, you lean into the promise.
“Marriage is a promise. It’s one that you keep even when you don’t feel it. It’s one that you believe in with your body and soul. And it’s one that you trust God to bless and strengthen and overflow you with love when 50 years seems like a very, very long time to be exclusive with someone.
“Marriage is a promise. It’s one that you keep even when you don’t feel it … But if you think about it—that person is being exclusive with you too. And what a gift: to know that he is sharing his body and his heart, only with you, forever. Is there a greater analogy to the commitment God has to his creation? The dying to self so that someone else can know they are accepted and loved?” (Emily T. Wierenga, from the Todayschristianwoman.com article, “How to Stay Married in a World Full of Divorce”)
Changing Marriage Culture
So, what can WE do to strengthen our marriages and make those around us “safer from divorce?” Here are a few suggestions, again, from Lori Byerly who wrote a blog titled, Lets Be Grass:
“How do we change our marriage culture? Pastors and various kinds of ministers are doing their best (and some of it is truly amazing). But it’s a drop in the bucket. I’m thinking about a grass roots effort. That’s me. That’s you.
• It’s speaking up for your spouse when others are bashing theirs.
• It’s reading a marriage book and handing it off to a friend.
• Also, It’s asking a newlywed to coffee each week, just to listen, encourage, and pray for them.
• It’s gathering friends to start a small group, a marriage encouraging community.
• It’s being consistent in the baby steps of building your own marriage.
• And it’s sharing resources that have helped you.
• Also, it’s offering to babysit so a couple can go out for date night.
“Who are the people in your world? What small thing can you do to make your world more marriage friendly?”
We hope you’ll apply the suggestions and prayerfully ask yourselves those important questions.
Here are a few additional tips for you to glean through and web site links below them that will give you even more, that you may find helpful, as well.
• Share marriage tips by Email with others (or pass on some of the Insights that Marriage Missions sends out) so more spouses can benefit from the ideas.
• Take the initiative to have a Marriage Mentoring “tip” or quote posted in your bulletin and/or Newsletter each week. You could also have a half page insert in your bulletin during different times of the year that gives additional information to married couples. Or you can have an e-mail list that couples could sign up to receive a “marriage tip of the week” each week. (We have hundreds of marriage tips posted on this web site in the “Social Media” topic under Facebook Quotes and Twitter Quotes).
• Get a group of others together to help you plan and host a Marriage Event in your church once a quarter. Hopefully because of this event you’ll reach out to some “new” couples to get involved in a mentoring group as a result of attending. It can be a social and educational event. i.e. a potluck dinner with a special speaker who will speak on a subject that will be of benefit to all who attend. This could occasionally even be a “For Women Only” event and a “For Men Only” event, which would address marriage subjects relating to their particular needs and interests.
• Encourage couples to attend at least one marriage retreat a year. Encourage them to go away for a weekend just the two of them to take the time to focus on their growth as a couple. (Your church could even host a Marriage Weekend.)
And then, below you will find links to other articles posted on the Internet (and on this web site). We encourage you to prayerfully read and glean through them to see what you can do to help in this mission of the love of Christ reflected.
What About Spouses in Difficult Marriages?
Yes, we know that many of those who are reading this Insight are living in very difficult marriages. And yes, we also know that you can’t do the same things that others can do… actually none of can. We all live in different circumstances within our marriages. But we can ALL do something to help to make other marriages healthier and stronger so the love of Christ reflected will change the lives of others.
After all, that should be an evangelistic goal, shouldn’t it?
It is our hope and prayer that as followers of Christ we will all live our lives in such a way that others can be drawn by the Holy Spirit to think, “Wow… I REALLY want to know their God better!” That would definitely be the Love of Christ reflected!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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Filed under: Marriage Insights