It was a breezy spring day in New Mexico. The sun was strong and warm as it fell on my black sports coat. I was holding my leather-bound Bible and reading Ephesians as I paced up and down a flagstone path.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” I said, to no one in particular.
I was in a secret garden, or at least that’s what it looked like. Dark green grass stretched out in front of a raised flagstone platform. A wooden gazebo had been erected over the platform and it was overgrown with giant blooming wisterias. The whole place smelled like honeysuckle and the breeze made white and purple petals flutter whimsically to the ground.
It was a fine place for a wedding.
I knew this fact because when I worked as a caterer and a chef’s assistant, I went to at least one wedding a month. I’d been to all kinds of weddings: house weddings, church weddings, outdoor weddings, dry weddings, drinks for everyone weddings, even a wedding that had to be put on pause while the father of the bride went and convinced his daughter that she still wanted to get married. If that wasn’t enough, I had also briefly worked as a photo booth operator, and, you guessed it- more weddings. It was safe to say that I wasn’t a spring chicken when it came to the whole tuxedo and white dress party.
But, this one was different. This wedding was for one of my oldest friends, and on top of that, I was officiating this one.
You could say that I was nervous.
No, I wasn’t biting my nails in fear of speaking in front of a crowd, I wasn’t sure that what I had written down was going to go over with the bride and groom very well. I had written out an invocation (that’s the official term for the speech/sermon given at a wedding) a few days before and I had sent it to my best friend and his bride to be, but then, last night, I felt like God was challenging me to throw it out and start again.
So I did.
Besides my wife, no one had seen this version, and I was pretty sure that I was a 3-minute speech away from never being asked to officiate another wedding.
Well, my speech didn’t gush about feelings or life adventures, it didn’t make the seemingly obligatory wink-wink-comment about sex, and it barely even talked about love.
So what did you say?
If you must know, it went something like this:
Friends and family, today we are dressed up and gathered here to witness the joining of —- and —- in the covenant of marriage.
Marriage. Today, there are so many different opinions about what a marriage is or isn’t. We have books, movies, magazines, and sitcoms that all try to tell us what a marriage should look like. I would like to encourage you all to mute all of those voices for a moment as we look at what God says about marriage. You all know where I’m going. We’re going to look at the great love chapter in the Bible: Genesis 1.
In the beginning, God. That’s the foundation of everything.In the beginning, God. That’s the foundation of everything. Click To Tweet
The next chapter shows the first man and woman being brought together by God. “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Marriage wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t something that God did in a state of panic as he thought about how best display to the world his love and submission to himself. Before time began, God had a plan of redemption that was to come through the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus, and in that same amazing mind blowing ridiculous plan, he chose marriage to be a picture of Christ’s love for the Church and it’s submission to Him.
I love what Jesus says in Matthew 19 when the Pharisees are arguing with him about divorce, he says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said [at the very beginning], ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The world paints a different picture.
The world portrays marriage as a prison, “The old ball and chain,” or the conclusion of a fun time, “Game over, man,” or the fulfillment of your dreams, “You complete me.” Those are all lies from the enemy.The world portrays marriage as a prison. That is a lie from the enemy. Click To Tweet
God says, this was my eternal plan that as Christ loved the church and gave himself up completely for it, that husbands should do the same for their wives. And as the church completely submits to Christ in all things, that the woman should likewise submit to her husband. Those things two things when they are working together in marriage, shout to the world: JESUS!
That is what marriage is. It is a billboard, and not only that, because he causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose, it is also the place where we get refined to look more like Christ.
Again, the world says:
“Marry someone who is pretty enough to keep you from committing adultery, and who is so much like you that you’ll never have to deal with your deep seeded fears, pride, or selfishness.” This, of course, is nonsense.“Marry someone who is pretty enough to keep you from committing adultery, and who is so much like you that you’ll never have to deal with your deep seeded fears, pride, or selfishness.” This, of course, is nonsense. Click To Tweet
When was the last time that you went to the gym and saw the biggest strongest guy searching the gym for the lightest weights? It doesn’t happen.
Marriage is the same way. God has designed it for your sanctification. At the end of your lives together, after all of the heavy lifting, when death do you part, you’ll both look more like Jesus. That’s God’s plan for marriage.
Jason and Tory, I am excited for both of you. Yes, learning to become one flesh will involve lots of growing, uprooting, weeding and sowing. Some of that will be difficult, and some of that will be downright painful, but oh the sweetness of being one flesh. Cling to each other, but most importantly cling to Christ, because without him you won’t know how to love each other.Cling to each other, but most importantly cling to Christ, because without him you won’t know how to love each other. Click To Tweet
Dying to yourself daily and picking up your cross isn’t an easy task, but that’s why we have God’s grace and that’s why his mercies are new every morning. The last thing I’ll leave you with are the words found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
That’s what I said. Now, I have to live like I believe it.That’s what I said. Now, I have to live like I believe it. Click To Tweet
Until next time, lose your life!