Monday, March 25, 2013

Remain With God: thoughts on a famous passage about marriage

1 Corinthians 7

vs. 17-22
 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God

According to my "tie the knot" app I have been married for 238 days, 20 hours and 6 min. People say this first year is the hardest. I have stopped listening to these "people" because I am almost positive that harder times are coming for our marriage. However, there have been some good times, and some hard times and I have learned a bunch during these past 238 days. Here are some examples: 

1) Like Marian Jordan said "Being married doesn't make you happy. It just makes you married" * Seriously. I am so glad I am married. But there are still some days that I am an unhappy person. Jake can't make that better. Our house, our shared closet or bed, our time together, this ring on my finger,  none of it makes me happy all the time. It's just evidence that I'm married all the time.
2) Being married does not automatically make you wiser or more talented. Raise your hand if you are single and have ever had a married woman talk to you like she knows more than you and has a right to give you advice on all areas of  your life just because she said "I do". Right. She is  lying to you.  I might know more about a few topics due to the fact that I have lived with a boy for the last 8 months but I didn't wake up the next day older, wiser, or suddenly an awesome wife.  
3) Marriage really is a ton of work. Both interpersonal and practical. It's work to make a home. To begin to build a marriage and to begin to create a comfortable place for us to live life together. Talking, Serving, Spending time together, Cleaning, Cooking, Groceries, Adapting, Decorating, Organizing, Learning, Teaching. It's all work. 
4) And Marriage is sanctifying. Being with Jake all the time shows me a lot about myself and a lot about him. We work with each other. It comes from constant community. 
5) Finally, NONE of these things are only learned in marriage. They can be seen from the outside and they can be seen in any community. The first two are givens and the and last two are just a result of living with another person. So... why do people get married?  Why get married at all? Should we even get married? 

There is a scene from the movie Pride and Prejudice that I just love! (I love the whole movie but really, i'll spare you an entire review of it). The dreaded cousin, Mr. Collins wants to marry Elizabeth. He comes in to propose and before he expresses his love to her he wants to make her aware of his reasons. "Firstly," he begins, "I am convinced it will add greatly to my happiness" no matter how many times they are told marriage will not make them happy, people say it will. They really think it will. It won't. "Secondly, it is the duty of a clergyman to set the example for marriage in his parish." People think that it is their christian duty to get married and have a family. They might not say it, but don't they feel like they are less of a believer if they aren't a wife or mother? "Finally, it is at the urging of my esteemed patroness, Lady Deburg, that I select a wife." People feel pressure from their church, friends and family to settle down.

I don't think these are good reasons to get married. But then again, What is a good reason to get married? I'm not sure. But, I had  professor in college tell me, "Run the race hard after God. Set your eyes forward. And if you happen to look around at some point and see there is someone running alongside you, well then you might as well run the race together." **  Maybe that is the key. Headlong after Jesus. Always. Only, sometimes, we get the specific companionship of a spouse.

Ok, getting back to I Corinthians 7. This a famous passage where Paul addresses marriage, divorce and singleness. Remember, he was talking to a church full of self-indulgence and immorality. He as a lot of suggestions for married and single life but the point of all them is to better serve the Lord.  I pulled out the versus above because I think that they are relevant to everyone married or single. "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." Today you find yourself in a specific place in life. Are you living in that place?  Or are you trying to live somewhere else? There are a lot of people that talk about marriage and singleness as gifts. You might have the gift of singleness they say. But instead of worrying about which gift you have what if you lived today where you are. "So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God". Remain with God. I love that phrase. Live that moment in that day, with God. I find it so much easier to live with Jake, or coworkers, or friends, than with God. What would my marriage look like if today I remained with God? 

Later in verse 35 of the same passage Paul is talking about remaining single and he says, "I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord." Paul tells believers that if they are not married it is better for them to stay that way. But he doesn't say it to be restrictive but rather because he is aware that the goal of our lives is undivided devotion to the Lord. That's the point. What does that look like in your life? How are you doing the work of the Kingdom where you are? Depending on where the Lord has placed us, in each season, this looks different. But though our lives may look different, the goal of it remains the same. Serve the Lord. 

It's so easy to get distracted by our daily lives. Work, kids, groceries, friends, family, marriage, dating, not dating, school. All of it is part of the life the Lord has assigned to us. How are you serving they Lord in these things? Leave a comment for me and share some ways that you are leading the life He has given you for His Kingdom.  My prayer for myself and of you is that today we would remain with God, in undivided devotion to the Lord, for our good and His glory.

* From Wilderness Skills for Women: How to Survive Heartbreak and Other Full-Blown Meltdowns  (A book I highly recommend for married and single women. Actually I recommend this author. period.) 
** From a Marriage and Family class taught by Dr. Brian Moulton at San Diego Christian College. Good man of God.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Abigail Ruth! I am Ruth Ann. I found your blog because we both commented on Traci Stanton Little's blog. Thankyou for your post. It blessed me. With that attitude you will make it regardless of how long you've been married. Stop over to my blog and check it out. Your post reminds me of the verse that speak of being content in ALL things. Godliness WITH contentment is great gain! Being in Christ is wonderful , but learning to be content in all things is really where we will gain spiritual ground. If we don't learn that we will be stagnant in our Christian walk.