Monday, July 25, 2011

Christ-Centered Marriages:

Matt. 7:3-5  3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I'm the kind of guy who likes to get the root of of issues. Admittedly, I'm not always able to do so in the best way possible.  

For example, a couple of months ago my sister-in-law wrote this post on why the church should not teach Christ-centered marriages.Wrongfully, I didn't focus on the conclusion of the post (which, for the most part, I agree with), but instead I focused on the differences of opinion we had in the reasons for it.  And while, as a pastor, I may continue to remain hesitant/defensive toward words of what the church should not do, I must confess my intentions of focusing on the differences of our opinion on this regard was the wrong way to go about it (especially since, this subject matter is most likely a Jar 3 or Jar 4 issue.)

On the subject of "Christ-Centered" marriages and whether or not this verbiage ought to be used, at this moment it is my opinion the church ought to refrain from it for the following reasons.

1) The Christian-life isn't compartmentalized, it's all-encompassing.

The main point of my SIL's post was that the church should spend it's energy focusing on "Christ-centered lives".  This, I must agree with.  As Dallas Willard noted (I believe in Spirit of the Disciplines), one of the things the church has done poorly over the past 20-30 years is to compartmentalize the Christian life into different areas.  We may teach, "Be Christ-centered at your work place...or in your marriage...or in whatever" instead of simply acknowledging that the Christian life is all-encompassing.  Therefore, we must acknowledge that we are representatives of Jesus in all we say and every part of our lives, not only our marriage.

Recently, I attended the annual conference for our association of churches and one of the speakers admitted there's one part of ministry he does on a regular basis that he swore he would never do when he went into ministry; that is, he preaches the gospel every single week.  While it may not be an invitation to receive Christ as savior, he admitted that we all need to be preaching the gospel to ourselves on a regular basis.  By doing so, we'll be able to best live out the gospel in every aspect of our lives.  Truer words may have never been spoken, and I would recommend this book to anybody interested in applying this in their own life.

2) The Church is not the Holy Spirit

Don't misunderstand me, here, I firmly believe the church is God's chosen vehicle to reach the world with the gospel message.  Jesus said, "Go!" and we are to go. And the book of Acts clearly indicates that Jesus' disciples went and went boldly.  But we should still acknowledge that it is His church, and not our own.  And that only the Holy Spirit can truly convict others of their sins. Therefore, on the subject of marriage, if one member of the marriage is a believer and the other is not, the believer is to continue keeping Christ at the center of their life with the prayer that their actions will lead their spouse to one day choose to do the same.  (This isn't a statement made to produce guilt, as there's really no greater satisfaction than living an all-encompassed life truly based on the teachings of Jesus.)

With these above thoughts, I'm indicating how I believe the church ought/ought not teach "Christ-centered marriages".  In the marriage seminar my wife and I have taught in the past, we didn't use the phrase. And while it may very well be possible for one to use the phrase, "Christ-centered marriage" and present a very good explanation as to what this means, perhaps it's best to teach others how we may focus our attention on the plank in our own eye, so we may then see clearly.  Because it's only when we see clearly that one will allow us to easily remove the speck from their own eye.

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