“7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8
“24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” – Gen. 2:24-25
As stated earlier, the biggest problem we have with marriage is that we are on Earth trying to operate machinery imported from Heaven! Without the operations manual, we will soon end up in trouble. IN THE BEGINNING, God descended marriage as a tool to aid man in the achievement of his divine destiny. He said, “It is not good that the man is alone”. So, God in his divine wisdom created a helper comparable to man to assist him, strengthen him, encourage him, challenge him,
Marriage as originally devised by God was to be the ultimate place of safety. A place where husband was free to be himself and wife was free to be herself. A place where there was no faking and fronting. A place where a spouse could be absolutely naked and unpretentious before their mate and not be ashamed. But we have turned marital art into martial arts. Many marriages are a battleground and you often hear one partner say, “Pastor, I can NEVER tell my husband/wife about this fear or weakness because he/she will use it against me when we quarrel””. In the beginning it was not so! Marriage is supposed to be a place where husband and wife find strength and encouragement from each other so that they can go out as a united force to overcome and subdue for God.
God’s design is that Agape love – the God-kind of love, is to be demonstrated on the Earth by Christian couples. Agape subsumes, encompasses and outshines all the other kinds of love defined by theologians. It is ONLY Agape that can withstand the ravages of time, overcome human failings etc. After all, the Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” That love referenced here is Agape. If it were not for the Agape love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, it is only a question of time before the habits and idiosyncrasies of two lovebirds begin to irritate one another. Agape is what empowers a couple to overlook faults and failings and focus on the God-kind of love. That is, a love that loves IN SPITE OF the other party. A love that originates in and from God; that is empowered by God; sponsored by God; sustained by God; grounded in God; begins in God and ends in God!
As human beings limited to the sense realm, we can never really understand Agape love. Right from when we are young, we are taught to “earn” everything. So when a baby obeys the commands given by Daddy or Mummy, he is a “good boy”. When you bring home excellent results from school, you are rewarded with sweets, new clothes, new shoes, a toy, a summer vacation (depending on the pockets of the parents). So, this deeply ingrained thought process carries over to our courtship and marriage life. Subconsciously, the wife says to the husband, “I am tired but because you have been a good boy, I will give in tonight” (Emphasis mine). These actions cheapen Agape and bring it out of the heavenly realm into the sense realm. Subconsciously, one partner begins to plan how to “earn” the love of the other.
Even when it comes to giving, a husband buys his wife a car or gift AS A REWARD for something or the other (such as giving birth to a male heir, overlooking a fault in the husband, or just generally, pleasing him”! In other words, what we call love is a manipulative, selfish “give-to-get” work of the flesh! That is why a seemingly loving couple who are pillars in the community and church leaders fall into scandals and situations that should not be heard amongst fellow-believers.
What then is the solution? It is ONLY the love of God that generates in us the ability to love like God. When we have come to the end of ourselves and can come face to face with the fact that we can’t fool God, then and only then can we cry out for divine help and help will be made available to us. The solution is in the Bible. When we deliberately reject knowledge, we are setting ourselves and our future generations on the path to disaster.
We will end this week’s thought with the words of a hymn by Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)
- Souls of men, why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?
- Was there ever kindest shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior Who would have us
Come and gather round His feet?
- There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.
- There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.
- For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind.
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
- If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word:
and our lives would be all sunshine
in the sweetness of our Lord.