This year I have the immense privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of four couples (I already did one in January, congrats again Charlie & Kalli!). One unique thing about these four weddings is that they all contain former students of mine! In two of the couples, both the bride and groom are former students! Being able to walk with students from 6th grade to marriage (and onward from there, Lord willing) is a peculiar blessing of youth ministry for which I am extremely thankful.
The excitement and joy isn’t about officiating the ceremonies (though that’s a privilege and a blast), but it’s about preparing the young couple for their marriage. For me, the ceremony is nothing compared to the marriage it creates. In per-marital counseling, I love rejoicing with couples about the amazing gifts God has given them in one another. I thoroughly enjoy letting God’s Word shine on their relationship and preparing them for their future union. Helping couples learn how to communicate, love, and repent well is a particularly satisfying work for me knowing how richly it will pay off later on in their marriage. Leading a ceremony is fun, but helping to build the foundation of Christian marriages is the work I’m most jazzed about.
Your Marriage Need the Local Church
In a premarital counseling session I finished yesterday, we spoke in-depth about a marital truth often ignored, at least in practice. In his excellent marriage book, Love That Lasts, Gary Ricucci expresses the truth beautifully:
Friends, sanctification – becoming like Christ – is indeed a community project. And marriage, growing to represent Christ and the church, is every bit as much a community project.
The church is the place where marriages are fed and supported with truth. The local church is God’s primary context for the teaching and application of God’s word. As helpful as recorded messages, Christian media, conferences, and even books can be, the Lord has established the church as the central depository and dispensary of truth. If you truly want to mature as a husband or wife, if you want your spouse to spiritually thrive, if you want to see your family nurtured into the truth, the local church is your God given context.
Of all the leadership decisions I have made by the grace of God, the very best one has been leading my wife and family into our local church. Here we have remained for more than 28 years. We were married here, our children were born and raised and are now serving here, and as I write this, one child is just weeks away from being married here! We are part of it. It is a part of us and our entire family. For us, life, marriage, and raising children apart from the local church is literally unimaginable. Friends, this should be the norm, not the exception, for every Christian. And regardless of the cultural whirlwind around us, it is the local church – Christians living a shared life biblically before God and one another – that will ultimately secure the place and role of marriage and family from generation to generation.
(Taken from Love That Lasts, p. 25).
For joy, make sure you and your spouse are meaningfully connected to Jesus and His.
How About You?
This is one of those easy posts to read, nod your head, whisper “amen,” and then fail to actually examine yourself to see if you’re enjoying the wisdom. It is an easy truth to accept in the head, but not as much in the heart or hands.
So, take a moment and ask yourself, “Is my marriage meaningfully connected to a local church?” Are there other Christians in your church who are committed to the health and Christ-centeredness of your marriage? Are there pastors who actually know about and watch over your marriage’s joy and purity? Do you children see how married folk ought to relate to the church by your example? If not, you’re missing God’s heart, God’s command, and God’s gift.
Friends, God’s Bride most definitely has her quirks, but in her heart she’s a fine lady with a faithful Husband. Being her loyal friend and meaningfully joining your marriage into her ranks will bless your Lord and your union.
Take the invitation and receive the joy God has for you. Get your marriage planted in a church.