Your individual purpose is to be a representation of Christ on the earth, but what is the purpose of your marriage?
Start with this: God is love. Love isn’t just something God does. It’s not just something he has. It’s who he is. Marriage is an institution of love, the first institution God established. Not only is marriage the first institution established by God, it is also the poetic symbolism that he uses to represent the depths of his love for and commitment to us, his church and bride. The bride and groom are a picture of the church and Christ.
Because of this profound symbolism, there is an even deeper, darker intent behind the assault against marriage, a motive too few recognize. The attacks against marriage — its definition, destination, and diving roots — are about more than politics or social progress.
Scripture makes it clear that we do not merely wrestle with flesh and blood, that our adversary is not a government or organization (see Ephesians 6:12). There is an ancient foe — the enemy of our souls — working behind the scenes to twist and pervert the divine merger. He will not stop attacking marriage until he has utterly distorted our frame of reference for the way God loves and relates to his people.
The last thing Satan wants is for us to discover and receive God’s transforming love. But by the grace of God, we can defeat our foe and embrace everything that God desires in and for our marriages.
God made marriage, and he also has a plan and purpose for it that hasn’t changed. Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees in one of his most famous conversations concerning marriage. They were badgering him about divorce, and Jesus said, “Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.” (Matthew 19:3-6 MSG)
The Pharisees were content to know what was legal, but Jesus wanted them to comprehend the power of love.
We can’t deny the fact that God originally planned men and women for each other. In marriage, they leave their parents to form living unions. Once the two sexes are joined, no one should sever their merger.
In fact, in this translation, divorce is called a desecration of God’s art. It’s the fact that marriage is God’s art — something he created — that makes divorce such a big deal.
To desecrate is to treat something sacred with violent disrespect. Can you imagine how the world would respond if someone desecrated Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? Every news outlet would pick up the story. The perpetrator would be condemned by society and go to prison. How could anyone dare to desecrate one of humanity’s greatest works of art?
Well, God views marriage as one of the greatest works of art to be expressed through His favorite creation. His passion for marriage is evident in Jesus’ response to the Pharisees.
Under the Law of Moses, concessions were made because of the hardness of the human heart (see Matthew 19:7-9). This was a provision, not God’s original purpose. Make no mistake; God hates the effects of divorce. When a husband and wife are separated, one of the mysteries of God’s creation is violated and torn apart (see Ephesians 5:31-32).
However, if you have suffered a divorce, don’t allow it to define you. It is a part of your past, but it does not have to determine the landscape of your future. The enemy of your soul will try to use your past to thwart God’s plans for your future. Remember that God has given you today and the choices you make today will shape your tomorrow — not your yesterday. If you’ve made poor choices, embrace the wisdom and power of God. Humble yourself through repentance and experience the wonders of his grace, which has the power to transform the bleakest of circumstances.
Everyone, married or divorced, knows that cultivating a marriage requires a lot of time and energy. If we want our marriages to be healthy, there is no fast-food option that will allow us to circumvent the necessary work. This is a good thing, because we value what we work for, and we need to value our marriages.
The good (and sometimes bad) news is that everything you plant in your marriage you will harvest in different areas of your life.
God’s institution of marriage is like soil, and your current or future marriage is like a tree. The original plan for marriage is good ground in which your union can grow, but the choice is yours: Will your marriage be a tree that produces life? Will your spouse, family, friends, and coworkers experience love, joy, and peace through its nourishment? Or will it offer discouragement, selfishness, and bitterness to those who eat its fruit?
Many of us have viewed the institution of marriage as the source of our problems. Others have sought to blame their spouses. Both perspectives expose a refusal to acknowledge and address the depravity of our own hearts. We hope this is no longer the case for you.
Before you continue this journey, a decision must be made. You must choose to believe that your marriage can and will become everything God has destined it to be.
Maybe you’re inclined to think, I’ll believe it when I see it. But belief in change always precedes the evidence of change, for all of God’s promises are received by faith. The good news is that your marriage is not about you — it’s all about God. All you have to do is get over yourself and let God be God. After all, your marriage is his work of art. If you let him, he will transform it into a beautiful masterpiece.
Take the next step to a great marriage by joining me for the Promise Keepers Virtual Men’s Marriage Summit. It’s a free, fast-paced two-hour event just for men that’s filled with practical advice from powerful communicators.
For more information, visit promisekeepers.org/marriage/
***Adapted from The Story of Marriage by John and Lisa Bevere, published by Messenger International Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.
John Bevere and his wife, Lisa, are best-selling authors and the founders of Messenger International, a ministry that exists to develop uncompromising followers of Christ who transform our world. They are dedicated to providing believers worldwide with access to life-transforming messages regardless of their location, language, or financial position. John and Lisa have been married for more than thirty years and together they have four sons and four grandchildren.