By Jeff Klick
Marriage is supposed to be an example of the relationship between Christ and the Church, as stated in Ephesians 5:32, which is a love affair that will last for all eternity with the husband (Christ) loving and laying down His life for His Bride (the Church). It would not be much of a stretch to say that many Christian marriages fall short of this goal. Some are simply war zones with occasional truces, and others end in divorce with around the same ratio as the non-Christian world. Somewhere the Church has failed to walk the Christian talk in the home.
From the beginning, God had a plan for marriage. Simply put, God knew that it would take two people to adequately represent Him to the world of unbelievers. Both male and female would be necessary to properly reflect the character of God. When God created Adam in the garden, He looked and said, “This is pretty good, but he still needs something. He needs a woman to be complete.” Well, what He actually said was:
“…It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18
This passage has interested me since I became a Christian. Adam had everything a human could want. He was in perfect fellowship with God. He had no sin to cloud his judgment or reasoning. He would not age, die of any disease, and had a perfect situation. But, God said he needed a helper. Now, “helper” can mean a couple of things. One, helper can mean that this person is sent to wait on, serve, and take care of my needs, similar to a servant or slave. On the other hand, helper can mean someone to come along side and help bring to completion. I believe the latter idea is what God had in mind. Adam had no needs before Eve was created. He did not need his house cleaned or laundry done. Meals were already provided, and Adam had God to talk with, so conversation was not an issue.
So why the need to create Eve? Adam was incomplete without her. From the very beginning, God desired for the married couple to become one. It would take both to accurately represent the nature and character of God. Both would be necessary to train the children and be a representation of Christ and the Church to the world. Even in Adam’s perfect situation, God knew he needed a helper in order for him to become what God desired. Thus, marriage was born, mates were given, and the crashing began!
Shortly after you are married, say three minutes or so, the realization that you are vastly different from your spouse hits – not only physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The opportunities for bumping into each other are unlimited. Crashes of all sizes and shapes happen daily. The process of two becoming one takes a lifetime and is not a calm process. Both people will be challenged to die to themselves daily. An illustration to help picture this is river rapids. As two streams merge into a river, the water is often tumultuous. However, downstream the river is deeper and stronger than either of the two streams. In marriage, the initial coming together as husband and wife often is the roughest water, but later on, the river runs deep and smooth.
Most marriages are a super highway of opportunity for crashes, and I believe God planned it this way from the very beginning. I have often said, “If two people are identical, one of them is not really necessary.” If God wanted two “Adams,” He would have created them. He did not, He created an Eve and she was vastly different from Adam, and wives today are still vastly different from husbands. They think differently, react differently, and have different needs than their husbands. Therefore, conflict is inevitable and I believe part of God’s plan.
God desires for men to learn to lay down their lives for their wives and for wives to learn to respect and honor their husbands (See Ephesians 5:22-32.) The key word in that sentence is “learn.” It is a process and will take the better part of a lifetime to get good at it. God knew exactly what each and every one of us needed to help us become what He wanted.
Once you are married, you are now married to the correct spouse, and there is no need to go looking elsewhere. God will use our choices and make something good from them even if we make bad ones. Within your own marriage, God has provided ample opportunities for growth and bumping into each other. With each collision, we have the chance to grow and become more Christ-like. Almost every day you will be given the chance to become more like Jesus. A word will be said, or an activity will take place that will rub us the wrong way. What do we do with these irritations? What do we do with all those crashes going on in our marriages? I would suggest that we learn from them and use them to drive us to the cross of Christ. Every time we have a crash, we are given an opportunity to grow. Each irritation and disappointment is another growing experience. As we learn to die to ourselves and embrace the cross of Christ, we will grow in being more Christ like.
Another reason God provided marriage is to make sure we have many opportunities to crash into someone and be instruments of change for good. It is impossible to repeatedly crash into someone without change happening. We must make sure we are bumping towards the goal of godliness and spiritual gain. Often we want to ram into our spouse to hurt them because we are hurt and we want them to feel our pain. This is rarely constructive and often causes major injuries. The goal of bumping each other is to move us along the right path towards Christ and His will. As we bump into each other through discussions, conflicts, emotional crises, and stressful times, we are changed. God wants us to be purposeful in our crashing and not vindictive. Love must be our motivation, and revenge is not part of love.
What if only one spouse wants to crash for the good? Go ahead and ram away … remember both cars are moved in every crash. Just make sure you are ramming for Jesus and not for the devil! We have to be constantly examining our motives of why we do the things we do and what are we trying to accomplish. God has ordained that each married couple will have many situations where they think, act, and react differently. This is not because God was bored and desired some entertainment, but because He wanted the couples to bump into each other and grow together. Each one of these potential crashes gives opportunity for change to happen to both spouses. I also believe God allows both spouses to grow at different rates so there will be even more times of bumping. God knows that each person needs others to help keep them on the course. What better way to assure a life of bumping than marriage?
If you have a longing to know that you are making an impact, you do not have to look any further than your own marriage. This relationship is full of potential for impact if we ask God for the eyes to see. The fruit of embracing our differences in our spouses will be great if we can ever get over the differences in the first place. God gave you exactly what He knew you needed to become what He wants you to become – a mature man or woman of God with a sanctified bumper car. Learn to embrace the differences instead of resisting them. We all need to realize that God has given us our spouses to help us move to maturity, not to torture us. One way to look at our progress is to ask these questions – “is my spouse better or worse as a result of our marriage?” “After 5, 10 or even 30 years of marriage is my spouse more or less Christ-like as a result of my bumping into him or her?” Our God is a God of hope so do not get discouraged with your answer to those questions. Regardless of how you have done up to this point, God can change everything if we will simply humble ourselves and allow Him!
When Christian marriages begin to reflect Christ, the lost and dying world will take notice. Godly men that learn to love their wives, as Christ loved the church, and laid down His life for her, will stand out in a crowd. Christian women that respect, honor and support their husbands will be vastly different from the “normal” wife of today. I pray that our marriages will grow to the place where we really are being an example of the love between Christ and His Bride. This type of love is rare in our dark world, and as we shine before the darkness, the light will break through.
Excerpt from “Saints Under Construction” by Dr. Jeff Klick – Published in November 2012