(Photo: Dan Delzell)
Relationships can get very messy. Perhaps you already have firsthand experience in that area. The only Person I know who has the ability to clean up the mess is Jesus Christ. In fact, He also has the power to help a man and woman stay out of a bunch of stuff that will only bring heartache into their home.
If you as a believer want to end up in a big mess, start dating someone who does not love the Lord. If you really want to end up in a tough spot, get married to someone who is "on the fence" when it comes to Jesus. That is a recipe for disaster.
Here's the deal. Jesus went to the cross for you. You need to deal with that fact first....before you even think about marrying someone. I wish I could give you what I gave to a couple today who came to me to discuss getting married. I gave them a DVD of "The Passion of the Christ" and asked them to watch it together. Before the three of us visit any more about them committing their lives to one another, I am asking both of them to decide what they plan to do individually about Jesus....and His cross....and His call on their life.
Don't go down the aisle and say "I Do" to the one you love....until you first make a firm decision about the Man who is already standing there for you. At the cross, He said "I Do" to you. Don't commit to a marriage until you decide about Jesus. If either of you decide to say "No" to Him, your marriage will not have God's blessing upon it. It's not that He doesn't love you. It's just that He doesn't bless anyone who chooses to ignore and reject Him. You absolutely need His blessing if your marriage is going to succeed on every level.
A perfect time to commit your life to Christ is during your courtship with the one you love. That is a great time to consider God's love for you....and His commitment to you.....and His invitation to you. If you are a Christian and you are thinking about marrying someone who is "wishy washy" about Jesus, my loving advice to you is simple: "Don't do it." It is not God's plan for you....at least not yet. If that person is not resolute about having Jesus at the center of your home, you are getting in way over your head.
Are marriages which are built upon Christ free from problems? Heck no. But they have something incredible going for them. They have the love of God and the forgiveness of God available to them every hour. Getting married today without Jesus is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. The landing will not be pleasant without the Lord there to help you land safely. Surprisingly, even some couples who begin with Christ mistakenly decide to take off their parachutes halfway down....go figure.
The young man and woman I met with today are already making some sacrifices for one another. But what about Jesus? Will both of them choose to make whatever sacrifices He calls them to make as His disciples? Are both of them on board about committing or recommitting their life to Him? Don't commit your very life to another human being until both of you have committed your life to Christ. It won't work. And even if you make it through this life without divorce, neither of you will land well at the end of life without Christ.
So why wait? Put on God's parachute today. Make specific plans now for how and where you and your spouse are going to grow in faith with other Christians on a weekly basis. When you commit your life to Christ, He leads you to commit your life to His bride, the church. It's messy there too. But it has to be messy in order for it to take some level of sacrifice out of the love you have for Christ. If marriage and the church were both just a piece of cake, where would the opportunity be to demonstrate real love? That only gets revealed when things get messy.
It's easy to "love" God and other Christians when nothing is being asked of you. Real love, as you know, calls for gritty sacrifice and much effort and tons of persistence. Otherwise, all you have are some warm fuzzy feelings. That will get you down the aisle, but it won't get you over the speed bumps you are going to encounter along the way.
The wedding ceremony itself is a piece of cake. It's almost as easy as having sex before marriage. Anyone can do that because it doesn't require any love or any patience....just raw unbridled passion. Likewise, praying a prayer to receive Jesus is easy....but it's just the beginning. Marriage only succeeds with commitment and sacrifice and forgiveness. Christianity is only authentic when it is taken every bit as seriously as marriage....and even more so. Otherwise, all you have is religion.
If God wanted us to just have religion, He would have stayed up in heaven and not come here to sacrifice His very life for you and me. He wanted us to have more than religion. He wanted us to have a relationship with Him which will last forever. He is extremely serious about it. What about you? How determined are you about living for Him?
Before you get into a serious relationship with someone.....and before you plan to get married....you and that person should sit down and watch "The Passion." Take it to heart. That's a lot of love going on there at the cross. Visit with one another at length concerning what you plan to do about Jesus.....not just in the moment....but for life.
Without a definite decision that is firm and heartfelt, there is no point in planning to have your wedding in a church. Why go down that aisle if you have not yet gone down the aisle for Christ in your heart? It won't do anything for you just to have a church wedding....other than perhaps satisfy some family and friends who may want you to get married there.
Sentimental feelings are like balloons at a wedding. They float away and are gone before you know it. You are then left with either a loving marriage built upon Christ....or an empty shell that is doomed to fail because it is built on sinking sand. Don't fool yourself into thinking that your marriage can last on feelings alone. When you hit the bumps in the road....which you will hit....your spouse will only be as strong and loving with you as he or she is with Christ. For real.
As I told the couple today, you need to go into this thing with your eyes wide open. Either Jesus means everything to you, or He doesn't. If you can watch "The Passion" and not sense the love that God has for you, then your heart toward Him is like stone.....and your relationship with another will only place you between a rock and a hard place every time you try to solve a conflict in your own strength. Those conflicts will arise....and when they do, you will not be able to overcome them without Jesus. You will not be able to walk with your bride....or your groom....into paradise....if you reject the One who is even now preparing a place there for His family. Isn't love supposed to last forever?
So what do you want? A short-term passionate relationship with someone....or a spiritual union that will provide both the earthly peace and eternal joy that only Jesus....and I mean only Christ.....can give you with one another. It's your choice. He made His decision. He made His sacrifice for your sins. There is even a movie about it to help you grasp His astounding love for you. His gift for you is every bit as free as wedding gifts that are received on the big day. That doesn't mean marriage or Christianity are easy. It just means the gift is free. What a fabulous way to begin a relationship....with a free gift that keeps on giving!
So go ahead and get on with it. Talk about it together. And then make the call. But please do so carefully. If you both decide to commit your lives to Christ, you will see that you really can have your cake and eat it too!