“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” Genesis 1: 27-28
Indeed God did make Man after His own image. He gave us the right and ability to make our own decisions, to choose death or life, to live by fear or faith, to choose to hate those around us or to choose to love those around us… but God didn’t just stop with creating us and setting two choices before us. He followed up with His creation by telling us exactly how to live…
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land…” Deuteronomy 30:15-18
God spells it out pretty clearly in Deuteronomy. We have two choices we can make…life or death…blessing or curse. And He tells us to choose life and to choose to love! But then God went even one step further than that, by actually showing us how to live, by becoming a living example of what we should be. God took on human flesh and lived among us on this earth for three decades in the person of Jesus Christ, and he lived a life of love and compassion and overcoming power that we are supposed to pattern our lives after.
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:1”
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6”
As I ponder this subject, I am reminded again of something that Mike Mason said in his exemplary book “The Mystery of Marriage: Meditation on The Miracle*”…
“Forming a relationship with us that is far deeper than anything we can possibly know among people is the way God has of challenging and inspiring us to yearn for this same divine depth in all of our human friendships. Were it not for the profound and intuitive knowledge of the Lord in our hearts, we could not know what depth of relationship is and would never miss or long for it on the human level. And so the very distance we feel from the person we love most dearly may be, paradoxically, a measure of the overwhelming closeness of God.
Such closeness is not something we have chosen for ourselves, nor ever could have chosen, any more than we could have chosen to be alive in the first place. Such choices are, however, ones that we can grow into, and there is a sense in which they become more and more our own choices the older we get.”
God created us to be and live in His image. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be a living example of how we ought to live and conduct ourselves in this life and how we should love and relate to others. He left us with His holy and inspired words (the Bible) so that we would have a written plan, a blueprint, and a resource of unquenchable power with which to live our lives in abundance and strength. And then He did something unfathomable…unbelievable…and unmistakable…He actually came down to earth to live inside of us in the person of the Holy Spirit. God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us with the ability to live the life He demonstrated for us to live. God knew we were to weak to live this life on our own power and accord, so He gave us his own spirit to live inside of us and strengthen us and empower us to live beyond our own means.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15”
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:11”
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:15 & 12″
It is absolutely amazing and astonishing, the love that God has shown to us, and how He chose to love us first. Even when we hated and despised Him, still God chose to love us, accept us and even go as far as to lay down His life for us.
“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ loved us and died for us. Romans 5:8”
We are meant to live with the same love pouring out of our own lives, whether that be towards our spouse, our children, our friends, or our enemies. We are called to love as Christ loved. We have been given the commandment to do so, the instruction to do so, the example to follow and we have been given the power within to walk that love out on a daily basis.
Marriage is a God-designed plan for helping us to get a little better understanding of what a true love relationship is. It is meant to help us see and understand Gods own powerful love for us His church.
Once again, listen to what Mike Mason has to say regarding the subject…
“Marriage is one of the great steps we can take in the direction of choosing for ourselves what has really already been given to us: It is a choosing of the closeness of God, in the form of a close relationship with another person. It is a deliberate choosing of closeness over distance, of companionship over detachment, of relationship over isolation, of love over apathy, of life over death. It is not a choice that comes to us at all naturally. It can come only supernaturally, by the divine agency of love. For love is what makes choice possible. But more than that, it is what makes it possible for people to choose what is good for them, even though that is not their natural inclination.
To put it simply, marriage is a relationship far more engrossing than we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be. It is supposed to be more, almost, than we can handle. It was meant to be a lifelong encounter that would be much more rigorous and demanding than anything human beings ever could have chosen, dreamed of, desired, or invented on their own. After all, we do not even choose to undergo such far-reaching encounters with our closest and dearest friends. Only marriage urges us into these deep and unknown waters. For that is its very purpose: to get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter.”
When you really stop and comprehend what God’s design for real marriage is. When you come to understand that marriage was to be a type and shadow of God’s plan for the love and redemption and salvation of his church. And when you actually stop and think of how great Gods love and forgiveness for us is, how can you not recognize just how serious and binding the commitment of marriage is. When we say our vows and make the promise to our spouse to love and cherish till death do us part, it is not a small commitment. It is a reflection of Gods plan of salvation for you and me!
Marriage can be hard, it can be complicated, frustrating, disheartening, and infuriating at times…it is supposed to be. It is meant to be one of the most enriching and fulfilling as well as the most stressful and trying aspects of our life. It is meant to captivate all of our senses and lead us right up to the point of brokenness at times. It is meant to turn us again and again to God for His guidance and help. It is meant to remind us of how much God loves us and how great a sacrifice He made to love us and give His life for us while we were yet sinners.
How many times have you spit in Gods face? How many times have you refused to do what He has asked you to do in love? How many nails have you driven into His hands and feet? How many times have you failed Him, turned your back on Him and refused to answer His call?
Aren’t you glad that Gods loving kindness, forgiveness and mercies are never ending!
Imagine if God gave up on you. Imagine if God said He wanted a divorce. Then what hope would any of us have?
Praise God that His love is much deeper than that, it is deeper than anything we could ever comprehend, and it is our example for love and life.
Choose life, choose love, and let Christ be your example and let His spirit your power and your guide.
If you and your spouse are struggling in your marriage, we want to help! Visit our website to learn more about our Christian Marriage retreat services and learn how we can help set your marriage back on a path to love, strength and happiness!
* Mason, Mike (2010-11-03). The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle (p. 48). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.