Serving God as One Flesh

ImageMany have heard the passage

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”…But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18-24

However, as “one flesh” what is the purpose for the man and woman, besides of course procreation, which God commands in Genesis 1:28.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

We learn in Genesis 1:26-27 that God created humanity in “their” image (God speaks of himself in the plural (trinity)):

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

In Genesis 2:15 we find that God created Adam with the purpose to work and take care of the garden.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

This morning my pastor briefly spoke about this verse and said that “work” in the Hebrew can be translated as worship. God created Adam to worship Him by serving Him through working and caring for the garden. Then in Genesis 2:18 we learn that God created Eve to be Adam’s helper. Throughout scripture we find again and again that God created us to worship Him, to serve and obey Him. For example, in Romans 12:1 we learn that dedicating ourselves to God as a living sacrifice IS true worship. Offering ourselves as a living sacrificing is the same as giving up/sacrificing our fleshly desires and appetites, choosing to follow God’s lead instead. He is the treasure, His spirit dwelling within us transforms us by the entire renewal of our mind so that we have the strength to obey Him and to be able to discern His good and perfect will (Romans 2:1-2, Galatians 5:13-26).

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want. Galatians 5:16-17

Married or not – God has a plan for us and that plan is ultimately in every way to worship Him. Of course God created each of us with different talents and personalities and His Spirit in us equips us each to glorify the Father here on earth through serving Him the way He created us to. Approaching our lives through this lens of service humbles us before God, recognizing His authority and enables our priorities to fall in place under His Lordship. Paul recognized this and even referred to himself as God’s bond-servant (Romans 1:1).

Within the context of marriage, like Adam and Eve – we enter a blood covenant, literally sealed upon physical consummation, to serve God as one flesh. In light of God’s plan for us to worship Him as one, my pastor said that during premarital counseling he asks the man what he needs His fiance’s help with, or in other words, how is the man currently serving/worshiping God with His life and how is this marriage going to be used to serve and worship God at a level that could not be attained by just one person? I felt this was a very good question, and not one that is asked much. We are not created simply to satisfy the cravings and desires of our fleshly appetites, although the institution of marriage and the procreation of family does bring some of the highest levels of satisfaction when done within God’s plan. However, the greater purpose is to serve/worship God and be in communion with His very present spirit as one flesh. The relationship of a man and woman united before God is a relationship where not only can the greatest levels of physical intimacy can be attained, but also spiritual intimacy. So when approaching dating relationships – remember the greater purpose of serving God – keep focus on God’s agenda and if it is His good and perfect plan, He will provide a helper to you at the perfect time to help serve Him while also blessing you with the gifts of marriage.

Many people who are Christians take dating and marriage into their own hands and set out to find that other Christian (and sometimes even a non-Christian) to marry by using their own tactics and devices instead of surrendering this facet of their lives to God and to His timing. This results in many marriages being motivated by physical and emotional desires, where two people are placing huge expectations on the other and on their relationship to satisfy their deepest needs. This also results in compromise – compromising serving God, compromising holiness and purity as well as compromising the relationship with God and the ability to trust and obey. Instead of putting God first and spending time with God on a daily basis in order to be filled with and satisfied by His Spirit and in order to be able to discern His will, oftentimes “we” fill that time with ways to satisfy our desires apart from God. Even while we are doing this we my try to follow legalistic parameters – such as trying to make sure they fit into the “Christian” category/label or trying to pursue physical purity, but in the end we are just applying religious principles to make a fleshly decision look better. This trap is easy to fall into and can be a slow journey with one compromise after another. I experienced this by slowly starting to at first compromise my daily quiet times, spending time with my romantic interest instead of putting God first. In the end the I was more focused on checking the box – Christian or non-Christian, but following the desires of my flesh to be emotionally satisfied within the confines of marriage instead of fully dedicating myself to be satisfied by God alone and serving Him while waiting for Him to bring a man into my life in His timing.

I bring all of this up not to make anyone feel bad, but as an example of how we easily we can fall into trying to fill that “God shaped hole” with something else, or try to satisfy God-given desires our way instead of His. The most unfortunate result of doing this is that many Christians find themselves married to a non-believer or in an unequally yoked situation where your husband or wife is uninterested in serving God as one flesh. Just like Levi Lusco recently preached in his “Red Pill, Blue Pill” sermon, giving into the deception of temptations to satisfy the flesh it is like trading your inheritance for a bowl of soup like Esau did with Jacob. Furthermore, marriage is a blood covenant that God takes so seriously that even if a person leaves/divorces their spouse for anything (other than unfaithfulness) God still considers them to be married, to the point that he considers relations after the divorce to still be adultery (Matthew 5:32). How seriously then we should consider God’s plan and will for our lives prior to entering a dating relationship!

For those of us who may be married to someone who refuses to submit to Christ as Lord and dedicate their lives to God in service, do not lose heart. Although there are consequences to sin – which are never worth it. God can restore and redeem the messes we make and use them for His glory. Ever notice that one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is faith? Our own faith can be so small and wimpy – but the Holy Spirit in us can bring faith while we pray for even the most seemingly hopeless circumstances. Also, God not only desires us to be a Christian witness through our lives to others outside of our families, but the first area of glorifying God is to our own spouses and our own children – which is sometimes the hardest areas – but where we are weak He is strong. In the end, whether you are single or married, and if so no matter to whom, Christ alone can fully and consistently satisfy.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Unequally Yoked

I read a really good blog post today, written by a sister in Christ by the name of Kathy Keller entitled “Dont Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever“. I think the advice she provides is very important for Christian singles!!! I’d be the first one in line to earnestly beseech my fellow Christians to obey God in who they date and marry! Many times however married people who are in an unequally yoked situation may feel like there is plenty of messages telling them the situation they are in is wrong but not enough Biblically based encouragement as to what to do if you are married to an unbeliever or in an unequally yoked Christian relationship (such as one person struggling in their faith while the other is strong or a protestant and a catholic). I would like to point out the following which God has been teaching me as a spouse in an unequally yoked situation. In spite of the stress and pain that can rear its head in the relationship due to being unequally yoked:

1. Being unequally married gives the believer or stronger Christian no license to treat the other without respect/love – Ephesians 5:33 is an act of obedience towards God and not contingent on the other spouse. Respect/love them with your heart, voice, face and actions whether it be in the home environment or publicly to others in church or elsewhere.

2. Just because the stress and pain of not being able to pray, read the Bible or fellowship in Christ together may be present, doesn’t mean that there isn’t any friendship or fun going on in the relationship. My spouse is still the same person I fell in love with, that will never change and the reasons I fell in love with them are still there. As with any marriage, love is a decision and a commitment.

3. Being unequally married does not give the believer or stronger Christian the license to “give up” on a) the marriage and/or b) their pursuit of God.

4. I think the article when directed towards single Christians is good advice, however I feel like there shouldn’t be an “all hope is lost” portrait painted of couples in an unequally yoked situation. Some people end up in an unequally yoked situation because one of the spouses came to Christ later in life or sometimes because one of the spouses backslid in their walk Christ. Even if they fell into an emotional battle and sinned as a Christian by marrying an unbeliever God’s grace is sufficient. Although sinning is never worth it, with repentance and faith in God all things are possible! Even pursuing God and being transformed into a godly spouse in spite of the situation. Our hope and joy in Christ is not dependent on our situation – give thanks in all circumstances and offer up your prayers unceasingly to God our Father.

5. God gives hope to the believing spouse in 1 Peter 3:1 saying that their spouse may be won over not by discussion but by the godly life of the believer or stronger Christian. An important thing to notice here is that this verse turns your eyes off your spouse and makes your life not about nagging or dragging them into church but about pursuing God because when it comes to being godly well there is always room for great surrender to and transformation by the Holy Spirit. Again, loving and respecting your spouse should not be contingent on whether or not they believe or obey God but is an act of obedience toward God.

6. There are the downsides/consequences-not being able to pray or read the Bible together or perhaps them not wanting to get involved with church etc. which can cause pain and strife. However God commands the believer or stronger Christian not to take part in arguments because they lead to quarrelling and to answer their opponents with gentleness and courtesy in the hope that the unbeliever will be saved, 2 Timothy 2:23-25. See how God again makes it about you and becoming more like Jesus instead of being about how to change the other person?

7. Just because someone is married to an unbeliever or to someone who is struggling with the faith gives the church or other Christians no right to pass judgment because the only one out there with the right to judge is Christ since he lived a sinless life and He chooses to give grace. In fact the only response the church/Christians should have towards people already in an unequally yoked marriage should be love, acceptance, compassion and support for BOTH spouses (believer and unbeliever) as Christ would. How else will the unbelieving or struggling spouse see Christ? If the husband hears from his wife how awesome God is but then is made out to be the villain, judged, criticized and/or snubbed by God’s people, then what?

8. Sometimes the lack of mercy and compassion my spouse has received from other Christians made me upset. It hurt because in spite of the pain that I do feel in my marriage due to being unequally yoked, I still love my spouse! However God calls me to forgive my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who do pass judgment or who are unmerciful because Christ forgives me for my shortcomings and I should pray for them and be unhindered in my pursuit of being a godly wife.

9. Lastly, like Stormie Omartian says in her best-selling book, The Power of a Praying Wife, “Shut up and pray!”. God loves both spouses so much, no matter where each spouse is or “is not” in their walk with God. Surrendering a spouse to God to let Him pursue them can be hard sometimes cause it feels like you are giving up hope. However the less they hear from you the more the “air is cleared” for them to hear from God and the more you pray the less your eyes will be fixed on your spouse and more on God which leads to being transformed more into His likeness.