Wedding sermon – For Pete and Claire

Readings:  Genesis 2:19-25; Colossians 3:12-19

Opening gag: Pete and Claire it’s my duty to tell you that you are now sat next to the person who is, statistically speaking, most likely to kill you.

Pause for nervous laughter

The bible is all about marriage.  It begins with marriage and it ends with marriage when all Christ’s people are united to Him at a cosmic wedding banquet.  In the middle the bible is always describing our relationship to Christ as a marriage relationship.

Our first reading described the first marriage.  Adam and Eve.  Did you hear how they came together?  The Groom was put down into a death-like sleep, his side was pierced, his bride was formed, he was raised up and they were brought together to become one.

And the ancient commentators would wax lyrical about the formation of Eve:

She was not taken from Adam’s head to be his ruler, nor from his feet to be his servant, but from his side, that she might be his equal, from under his arm, that he might protect her, and from close to his heart that he might love her.

Isn’t that beautiful?  But it’s a picture of Christ and His bride the church.  He went down to death, His side was pierced to form His bride, He was raised up again and when we come to Him in faith – we are united to Jesus, like a bride is united to her husband.

So friends if you’re here this afternoon and you’re not a Christian, let me tell you what Christianity is all about.  You’ve just seen it.  THIS is the heart of the Christian faith.  According to the bible, this shows us the heart of all reality!

Did you hear those vows:

All that I am I give to you
All that I have I share with you.

Of course when Emma and I said those vows to each other there were sniggers in the congregation because effectively we were saying “All my debts I give to you, And all my student loan repayments I share with you.”

But in our marriage to Jesus it’s different.  He doesn’t have any debts, He has only riches.  But we have debts.  We are in over our heads in cosmic debt towards God.  We are trillions in the red.  We have a wealth of badness and a terrible poverty of goodness.  And we all have a bad name.  We have inherited a shameful family name.  “Humphrey” is quite a good name.  In spite of all Jonathan’s trying to do to ruin that name, “Humphrey” is still a decent name.  But our name, inherited from our human family, sullied by all that we’ve done as a race – that name is stained.  We’re in debt and in shame.  But the minute we say “I will” to Jesus, what happens?  We say:

All that I am I give to you
All that I have I share with you.

We give to Jesus all our debts, all our sins, all our shame.  And Jesus takes it.  His name covers over ours – the way Deaves has now covered over Humphrey.  His name covers over ours, and His riches pay off our debts.  He absorbs  our debt, and pays it all off on the cross.

Then Jesus turns to us and says:

All that I am I give to you
All that I have I share with you.

What’s that?  His riches, His righteousness, His honour, His royal status.  He covers over our old name and gives us His name.  And He invites us into His royal family, to share in His royal power and royal inheritance.  And best of all we get HIM.  He gives HIMSELF to us, to enjoy forever.

History is headed towards a cosmic wedding banquet where we will enjoy our marriage union to Christ FOREVER.

That’s Christianity.  And anyone can come to Christ and say “I will” to Him.  And at that moment they come in on the ultimate royal marriage.  Maybe some here would like to do that, or find out more.  Come find me today and we can talk more.

But because of this marriage union to Jesus, our second reading for today is true:

It says that Christians are:

God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved

You might think, how can we be called chosen, holy and dearly loved.  We certainly don’t look it.  And we rarely act like it.  Well, remember the marriage analogy.  Remember our Groom, Jesus – He is choice in God’s eyes, He is holy in God’s sight, He is dearly loved.  And when we are united to Jesus we share in His choiceness, His holiness, His dearly loved-ness.  We’re adopted into the family, we enter the palace and we become the ultimate rags to riches story.

And so our passage goes on, and tells us, now that you’re in the palace, put away the rags and start wearing the royal clothing.  He says:

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

What wonderful clothes, every marriage could do with this couldn’t it:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience!  It’s the clothing of Christ, isn’t it?  He is compassionate, He is kind, He is humble, He is gentle, He is patient.

And maybe we think, if we just put on this kind of character, our marriages will go fine, right?

Well it couldn’t hurt.  But our passage goes on:

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Our reading expects there to be grievances, it expects there to be things that feel unbearable, it expects there to be sins that need forgiving.

So, Pete and Claire: the strength of your marriage won’t actually be determined by your nice-ness to each other.  You need to hear that, because you’re some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  But marriage doesn’t run on nice-ness.  It runs on forgiveness.

A successful marriage is not about your goodness, it’s about how you respond to badness.  And this passage says, “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

You know when we came to Christ we came in with a trillion pound debt.  And Jesus took it, absorbed it, paid it off, and it’s gone, forgotten, never to be brought up between us again.  Pete and Claire, you’re going to cost each other thousands of pounds worth of hurt.  And sometimes tens of thousands of pounds of hurt.  And maybe at points a million pounds of hurt.  And if you’re just looking at the hurt it’ll be unbearable and you’ll consider it unforgiveable.  But if you look to Jesus, it doesn’t compare with how He has forgiven us.  So may this be your motto, especially when you drive each other crazy: forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And then Paul tells us how Christ’s forgiveness and love will be brought to mind:

Verse 15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

Verse 16: Let the word of Christ dwell in your hearts.

Verse 17: Let the name of Christ infuse all your life.

Be Christ-filled people…

And then we come to the specific verses about husbands and wives.

Pete – verse 19 is yours: Love your wife and don’t be harsh with her.

Do you know why that verse is in the bible?  Because A) Jesus is NOT harsh with us.  And B) Husbands ARE harsh with their wives.  And that just can’t be.

Husbands are playing the part of Christ in this whole Christ-and-the-Church picture.  So love Claire the way Christ has loved us.  He is not harsh with us.  He leads in servant-hearted, forgiving, gentle love.  How can husbands be harsh, when Christ is so gentle?  “Love your wife and do not be harsh with her.”

Claire – verse 18 is your verse: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  Pete is laying down his life for you, to lead you in sacrificial service.  Let him.

Pete – love.  Claire – receive that love.  The great heresy in the history of the church has always been a church that doesn’t receive the love of Christ but tries to earn and perform and do and work and get busy for God.  It’s heresy.

And if the great temptation for men is to be a false Christ and shrink back from responsibility, shrink back from service, to never get off our backsides and love – the great temptation for women is never to rest in love.

CS Lewis once said the best marriage prep would be to put a couple in a chaotic kitchen together.  The pot’s boiling over, the toast is burning, the cats are nibbling at the plates.  Here’s the challenge:  the woman has to sit down and do nothing.  And the man has to jump up and sort it out.  The man has to not be harsh.  And the woman has to submit.  How counter-cultural, how counter-intuitive!  But that’s Christian marriage.

Husbands – love.  Wives – submit to that love.

And then you’ll have a marriage that bucks all the stereotypes.  Our culture rightly despises the caricature of marriage where husbands are cruel or cowardly and women are clamouring or closed.  Not so with you.  The world will look on and ask – why is your marriage so different to the stereotype.  And you can answer – Let me tell you about our riches in Christ.  Let me tell you about the ultimate marriage.  Because of His love – that’s how we manage it.

 

Posted on by Glen in marriage, sermons

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

5 Responses to Wedding sermon – For Pete and Claire

  1. Rich

    Very helpful post – had never heard or seen the comparison of the creation of Eve to the creation of the church. Can you recommend any posts (here or elsewhere!) that describe the biblical leadership of a husband well, in a practical sense. Everyone’s familiar with ‘leading’ as a term, but anywhere in particular that expands helpfully?

  2. Glen

    Hey Rich,

    I speak a bit more about it here:

    http://christthetruth.net/2011/03/31/models-of-masculinity-2/

    There are links at the end of the post to other stuff. Larry Crabb on gender is the most thorough. “Three thoughts on headship” is the most focussed on your particular question.

    I’m *big* into recognizing the distinction of our genders. But I’m *big* against macho-man discipleship. Usually the guys that are into the distinction stuff are also into dudesmanship too so I’m not sure who to recommend with complete confidence. But I like the Larry Crabb stuff and I think his old book “the silence of Adam” nails the failures of men (and husbands).

    Have you come across any helpful stuff yourself?

  3. Rich

    Excellent – thanks Glenn. Yes saw your post about the men’s convention with the Driscoll vid about shooting guns and brewing beer, ’tis often a touch confusing when the big names talk masculinity. Have read a couple of chapters online of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper, which seemed solid enough, but difficult to know really when just starting out on a subject. Will take a look at these links. Thank you.

    One helpful point I heard once was to remember that Jesus was the ultimate man, and the fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, gentleness, kindness and so on. I’m all for a pint and a kick-about but, like most lads I’ve chatted to, just feel guilty when see vids like that… have to fight to remember my identity is in Christ not what I wear/drink/shoot!!

  4. Glen

    Totally! I’ve also got a link there to “Is the fruit of the Spirit too sissy for real men?”

    Unfortunately the answer for some is Yes!

  5. Carl Schuster

    Incredible message glen.. As always thank you..

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