“…I take you to be my spouse, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”
Most women and men dream of their big day, of being able to say their vows. After all, they’re entering into something beautiful – a covenantal union for the rest of their loves.
But divorce and adultery have become more rampant in recent decades. It seems the vows recited at the altar have diminished significance. Seated in the pews, I often wonder – and especially so if they’ve written their own vows – if the bride and groom truly know the significance of the words they speak.
My fear is that we are too concerned about the wedding day, and so much what happens after that.
Think of Saul’s conversion (Acts 9). There’s nothing wrong with wanting a momentous occasion or milestone moment. But too many of us focus on the moment of the conversion that we neglect the discipleship that must follow. A wonderful wedding is good, but the lifelong marriage that follows the day is more important.
At the end of a wedding, guests may leave it commenting how perfect everything was. However, what would really make a lasting impact on how the world views marriage today is how you fare when the rubber meets the road for the next thirty years.
In the same way, your followers on Instagram are not that impressed when you post pictures of Bible verses after you become a Christian. They are only impacted when you choose to live the rest of your life in close intimacy with Jesus – when you stick to the commitment you made when you accepted Him as Saviour and Lord.
A conversion is merely a wedding. A discipleship is a marriage.
When the going gets tough, the tough don’t get going.
We’ve all heard of the proverb. But the truth is, when facing difficult circumstances, escape quickly becomes one of the first few solutions we consider. Our generation isn’t exempt from such mindsets, especially when it comes to commitment in relationships.
Unfortunately, many of us also see this in our relationship with Jesus. Forget even talking about persecution: When our walk with God becomes even slightly uncomfortable – we are so prone to forsaking God. I know this well, because I am guilty as charged.
Do you feel this way? You may be on the brink of walking away from God. You may just be dragging yourself to church hoping for an encounter with God in order to “restore” your walk with God.
I don’t honestly think there’s anything that can magically reform or restore your walk with God – unless you are willing to put in the work.
Two of the greatest reformations recorded in the history of Israel are in 2 Chronicles, under the reigns of king Hezekiah (715-686 BC) and king Josiah (640-609 BCE). Preceding these kings were rulers who were idolatrous and far from God. During their reigns, both Hezekiah and Josiah destroyed the pagan worship which plagued their nation.
Unfortunately their reforms lasted only as long as the kings lived. When the next king rose to power, Israel fell into idolatry again.
Think about your relationship with Jesus.
Has your revival gone stale? A fiery passion for God fanned by the winds of revival is not enough to sustain the spiritual life of a disciple.
I spoke to couples who have been married for at least 30 years, and there’s one common thing they say about marriage: Marriage is not easy.
They tell me to “choose love always.” In their own words, “it takes intentional decision-making to show unconditional love to your spouse every day.”
The same goes for our relationship with Jesus. We have to choose love every single day no matter how difficult it gets – it’s our only chance for lasting joy and peace.
We have to read the Bible. We have to spend time with Him. We have to serve Him.
A call to discipleship is a marriage proposal.
“And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood…” (Luke 22:20)
In Jewish culture, if a man offers a cup of wine to a woman, it is seen as a marriage proposal. The process usually goes like this: The prospective groom would speak to his father, to ask the woman’s’s father to organise a feast. He would then find the opportunity to “propose” to the woman.
Now the woman actually gets to decide whether she wants to marry the guy. If she accepts, the man would then go back to his father’s house and prepare a home for his bride-to-be.
Doesn’t that sound familiar to you?
Jesus is the groom who proposes to you, inviting you into a covenantal relationship! He is calling us – the Church – into discipleship! He is the groom who is back in His Father’s house preparing a room for us.
To those who accept and drink the cup, one marriage proposal and one acceptance is enough. All that’s left is to live out our commitment well.