The world paused for a few hours to drink in the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. My wife, who loves her sleep, set her alarm for 4am to get up and take in the nuptials. I even caught my Golden retriever fixated to the TV. What draws us? I believe the joining of a man and woman is something holy, designed by God. It is a painting on the canvas of humanity, the relationship between Jesus and His church. For all the pageantry, beauty and drama of the Royal Wedding, the truly spectacular part of marriage is a man and a woman journeying through life’s ups and downs, peaks and valleys side by side, ‘til death do us part. That kind of fidelity and love must be fought for continually. Not really a romantic thought I know. But at the deepest level, all of us desire a relationship where we can be fully known, the good the bad and the ugly and still be accepted and loved. We experience the same unconditional love and acceptance in our union with Christ:
“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. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
I remember what my pastor told me in pre-marriage counseling. He said, “Marriage is the closest thing to Heaven on earth, or Hell on earth………..choose?!” Both in marriage and our union with Christ, we must be on the lookout for ‘Wedding Crashers’.
Here are a few:
1. Other Loves
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19)
Being both a pastor and a daddy of two daughters, I let every boy interested in my daughters know, “I can marry you and I can bury you!” It’s probably why they both are still single! The reality is, every wedding is actually a funeral! A single person must die, so that a married person may live. In our relationship with Jesus, there must be a death to self so that a new life in Christ may live. So many things will vie for your attention and affection, many of them good things. They aren’t wrong; they just can’t be first before Christ. It’s amazing when Christ is first in our life, how our other relationships in life blossom.
2. Conditional Love
“.…….for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Jesus has made these vows to His Bride, the Church: “I’ll never leave you”, “I’m with you always”. Regardless of our performance, Christ is steadfast. Marriage is a covenant and not a contract. Can you imagine how different the marriage vows would be? Not “for better or worse, richer or poorer…”. Suddenly the vows would begin with “if you, then I…”. If you: make a certain amount of money, stay at a certain weight, perform a certain task…, then I will do…” That would definitely make the wedding ceremony a bit more entertaining but falls short of the beauty and hope of a relationship based on mutual giving. Thus, we must guard our hearts against putting escape clauses in our relationship with Jesus. “I’ll follow you if you give me this or if you do that”.
3. Lazy Love
“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
I recently read somewhere that the #1 reason for divorce in the UK is no longer infidelity, it’s that “we fell out of love?!” That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s like an athlete who never works out and when confronted by his coach replies, “I fell out of shape!” Relationships must be worked on and maintained. I know that’s not a real sexy or romantic idea for Hollywood, but it works. So too, our relationship with the Lord must be fought for, creating space and time to be with Him. I was challenged by this statement, “If you’re bored in your relationship with Jesus, He probably is too.”
If you’re in a rut in your walk with Jesus, change up your routine, change up your meeting places. You must fight to keep your walk with Jesus vibrant and alive.