“That they may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…” (John 17:1) When we read this scripture passage together recently, we were inspired, as it pertains to the purpose of marriage. Jesus’ prayer is that we will be united as one. For us to get to this place we will need to work to be one in purpose …on purpose. It will take intentionality on our parts for our hearts and lives to be knit together.
Jesus is one with the Father, and He prays that we also experience that type of loving unity. We are to be one with God and one with each other. This is especially true in marriage. After all, marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for His bride—the church.
Most of us approach marriage with the mindset to grow in unity. But too often, a “creeping separateness” sets in within our relationships as we try to make life work for us. A lot of the time we don’t even notice it. But it creeps in nonetheless. As a result we’re prone to forget what we promised each other and God in our marriage ceremony.
Please know that we’re not throwing stones of judgment here at anyone. We’ve fallen into this state of memory lapse quite a few times ourselves. It’s easy to slide into that place. Life has a natural way of sliding us apart from one another. Promises are forgotten or abandoned during this time of disconnection.
One in Purpose?
But in the midst of that “slide” there are some spouses that totally smash those promises. Continually we hear about toxic marriage situations from those who comment on the Marriage Missions web site. We’ve been told: “we’re both Christians; but we can’t stop fighting.” We’ve also been told: “we both love the Lord; but our home is a war zone. Our kids are so hurt because we can’t agree on anything. We keep fighting.” That boggles our minds.
We can well understand having disagreements. We’ve had our fair share of those. Actually, that’s a “normal” part of marriage. Couples often conflict as they work out their different approaches to life. There is a purpose to it—to build relationship bridges. But for two Christian spouses to have their home be a “war zone” where they “can’t stop fighting?” And yet they say that they both love the Lord? How is that possible?
We’re talking about two Bible-believing, Christ-loving, church-going Christ-followers. How can that be? How can Christians honor God and yet fight with each other in such toxic ways? SOMETHING is horribly wrong in all of this. There is a total disconnect going on here.
When we disconnect in small, or big ways—that’s when we need to figure out how to get back on track of being one in love and purpose. That’s especially true when our words and actions have turned toxic. Would God ask any less of us?
Simply put… in computer terms it’s called rebooting. As far as marriage relationships, it’s called reconnecting. This will take intentionality of purpose to reconnect once again. But again, as Christ followers, would God ask any less of us?
Striving to Be One in Love and Purpose
To do this, lets first remember what we promised each other.
On our wedding day most of us stand before a minister and make promises similar to this:
I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband),
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish;
until death, do us part.”
Is that basically what you promised each other? Perhaps you wrote your own wedding vows. But aren’t the promises you made similar to these ones? We challenge you to go back and look at the vows you made to your (now) spouse.
No matter the wording, our wedding vows definitely declare a determination to be each other’s loving, devoted partner. We pledge to be united in purpose, on purpose. It’s all tied together as a “cord of three strands.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
With this in mind, lets prayerfully consider what marriage IS and what it IS NOT.
First off, in the Bible we are told that marriage is a “profound mystery.” (Ephesians 5:32) And it sure is! Who knows why God would tie such a fragile relationship together with the picture of Christ’s love for His church (us)? We don’t know; but He does. It’s an amazing mission. And that’s why it’s especially important that we are intentional in being one in purpose ON purpose.
Also, it’s important to note:
“Marriage is not a private experiment, littered with prenuptial agreements and an attitude of ‘Try me! If it doesn’t work, you can always bail out!’
“Marriage is not a social contract—something you ‘do’ for as long as you both shall ‘love.’ [That’s not how God looks at it.]
“Marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman and their God for a lifetime. It is a public vow of how you will relate to your spouse as you form a new family unit.” (Dennis Rainey)
Dennis goes on to clarify what marriage is a bit more in this next statement.
“Marriage is about the glory of God—not about the happiness of man. Working on your marriage is your greatest witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“A marriage is not a joining of two worlds, but an abandoning of two worlds in order that one new one might be formed. In this sense, the call to be married bears comparison to Jesus’ advice to the rich young man to sell all his possessions, and to follow Him. It is a vocation to total abandonment.
“For most people, in fact, marriage is the single most wholehearted step they will ever take toward a fulfillment of Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” (Mike Mason)
Purpose to Prayerfully Consider:
“Marriage is not a noun; it is a verb. It’s not something you get. Instead, it’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner everyday.” (Barbara De Ange)
“Marriage is all about focusing on what it means to love the Lord, serve the Lord, and allow God to help us become conformed to the image of His Son. What does it look like to love one another as Christ loved us? What does it look like to ‘bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things’ (1 Corinthians 13:7)?” (Gary & Carrie Oliver)
“When we become one in our marriage, we reflect the unity of God to the world. When we are not one, when we do not follow His pattern, it affects our relationship with Him and with each other (1 Peter 3:1-7) …Furthermore, when we selflessly love our spouse and lay down our life for him or her, we are giving the world a moving example of God’s love for His people.” (Mitch Temple)
H. Norman Wright shares the following about marriage:
“Marriage is more than sharing a life together; it is building a life together. What you do now is for both, and what is said now is for both. What your purpose is now is for the kingdom and giving glory to the image of God.”
Building in Unity
So, as you work to be one in purpose on purpose, and as you build (or rebuild) your life together, it’s important to note God’s building plan:
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” (Proverbs 24:3-4)
We pray you will build well! And:
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)
Cindy and Steve Wright
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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