We first became aware that our marriage was an open book in 1987. (We were married 15 years.) It was announced in our church that we were going to be moving to new city to start a new ministry. A young couple came up to us afterward and told us that they had been secretly watching us interact as a couple for a long time. They then told us that they agreed that they wanted their marriage to be just like ours. That is because of what they had observed.
Their words astounded us. First, we weren’t even aware anyone was watching us. Thank God, they had been positively influenced by what they saw in how we treated each other. But then we thought about it and considered the ramifications, if we had interacted negatively to each other. We might never have known that either. And yet it also would have impacted their lives. It brought into focus what it says in the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 2:12. “Live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”
Marriage as an Open Book
It begs us to consider the question, “What do people think of God when they watch us in our marriages?” We don’t have a choice whether our marriages will be an open book or not because no matter how much we try to hide who we are behind closed doors —someone, somewhere, will eventually read your marriage book. Is it a worthy read?
The truth is you may never know who has been reading your marriage book. You can be sure your children are —every day. But it’s also the neighbors, friends, relatives, people you work with, and even complete strangers.
There was a related article presented in “Marriage Partnership Magazine” featuring an interview with Ravi Zacharias and his wife, Margie. Ravi has a phenomenal ministry to bring Jesus to the world in very unconventional ways. He is a renowned author, speaker and apologist. He and Margie also believe very strongly that “marriage has the power to change the world for the better.”
They’re convinced that God created marriage, in large part, as a base for ministering to others. And they don’t let those of us who feel called to teaching, computer programming, construction, parenthood, etc. off the hook. Talk to the Zacharias’, and they’ll tell you we’re ALL primarily called, to show God’s love to those around us.
Marriage Speaks to People
Ravi is the author of several books, including Cries of The Heart, Can Man Live Without God?, and Deliver Us From Evil (all published by Word). He defends the reasonableness of the Christian faith, but also stresses the peace and healing that come only from God. Here’s how Ravi and Margie in their own words have incorporated that same mission into their life as a married couple:
If our marriage speaks to people, it is our prayer that it is because it is a Christian marriage, not that it is inter-cultural. A couple’s home should convey peace to people when they come in. And where people sense that harmony, they will seek your feedback, even in subtle ways. People have come to the Lord in our home. One was a Hindu couple. I would love to think that happened because they sensed God in our home and in our marriage.
One of the most fulfilling comments that could be made about any home is that it is a place of peace. And not only can friends sense this, but others too. This includes trades people, real estate agents —anyone who has a reason to be there should be able to sense the difference in a Christian home.
Think about it: God’s peace seems intangible. How do you establish it in your home?
Peace starts with the discipline of respecting your fellow human beings. Be kind to whoever you talk to. And gentle and gracious in what you’re saying. I have always marveled why anybody would be unkind. I’m not kind to Margie because she’s my wife, I’m kind to her, first of all, because she’s a person. I see people at an airline counter screaming at a flight attendant because the plane is late. They act as if she had responsibility for it. Think of the peace that is lost.
Added to that is the love of Christ, which gives breadth to our kindness. When the love of Christ is in your heart, you’re accountable to him for your actions toward others. Christ sheds his love in your heart, and all the more you need to share it with others.
Is there something implicit in marriage that shows people how God wants us to live?
Marriage is the one human relationship that reflects the covenant relationship between God and his people.
Marriage, the way God designed it, is meant to point people to God. The family is God’s laboratory where his grace and provision are put to the test. It greatly concerns me that so many Christian marriages have fallen so short of what God intended for marriage. We can never impact our society for God if, in our own families, we can’t show the love of Christ.
Marriage is the first human relationship God instituted. Before we were ever parents, we were a couple. Adam and Eve had no earthly parents. Their allegiance was first to God and then to each other, under God. That is why the wedding vows are so sacred —they are rooted in God’s first gift to humanity, a pure love, an exclusive love, an abiding love.
In our society of broken homes, where can people turn to see the reality of God’s love if not to a Christian home? What they see demonstrated there should show them that it will take more than human love to repair their own lives. Christian couples, in the honor and respect they give to one another, can have the privilege of showing God’s power at work in a relationship.
Can those who witness your marriage relationship, see “God’s power at work?”
Again, Your Marriage is an Open Book
We hope you will spend some time this coming week to reflect on the Zacharias’ comments and especially his last sentence. (You can read the rest of the Today’s Christian Woman interview with Ravi and his wife Margie by going to Open to the World.) Then take some time to pray together as a couple asking God to show His power at work in your relationship.
Maybe you don’t feel you’re anywhere close to being the person, and/or a couple God could use. If that’s true, today is the day He wants to begin to change that. Start by confessing to Him where you have failed and then ask for forgiveness. Commit to learn and apply Biblical principles so you can show the love of Christ within your home and within your marriage.
Don’t worry about being imperfect. If God can use Cindy and me by having people read our “marriage book” in a positive way, He can definitely use you.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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