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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How would you live and love differently if you really believed that you and your spouse are one?

I'm continuing today with my "What If" series. If you missed my last post, you may want to go back and read it, because in that post  I explain the how and why of all this "what iffing."

The goal of this series is to get you to thoughtfully ponder the implications of certain statements of marital truth and to allow them to impact the way you live and love.

So don't read any further unless you are ready to give this some serious thought!

Here's what I want you to consider this week:

What if... you really are one with your spouse?

You probably know what I'm referring to, but in case it's not clear, I'm talking about the verses in Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 that say a husband and wife, when they are joined in marriage, actually become one.

The Apostle Paul describes this as a great mystery. In the Greek the word is "mega" - literally a mega-mystery!

He adds to the mystery by stating explicitly that husband and wife are one in the same way we become one with Christ when we come to faith in Him. Whoa!

Unpacking the Mega-Mystery

The first thing to realize about the whole two-become one mystery is that it is not something you do.

It's not even something you become.

It's something you ARE.  

You ARE one. The Bible declares it to be so, and so I believe it is.

Yeah, I know, it's hard to get your head around that sometimes. A lot of times it doesn't feel that way, right? I mean we fight, we get self absorbed, and sometimes we grow apart. How can you say we are one through all of that?

That's the mystery.

In the verses in Ephesians that come before the statement of marital oneness, Paul blows the doors off this "what if" mystery by stating that it's exactly the same as it is with Christ and the church. We are one with our spouse in the same way that we are one with Christ. We don't work our way into oneness with Jesus. We don't  grow our way into it, or pray our way into it, or earn it with our daily devotions and weekly church attendance.

No, the Bible make is clear that at salvation we become one with Christ, one in a mysterious spiritual union.

It's the same with marriage. You are one with your spouse by virtue of the fact that you chose to marry each other. It's that simple.

Enjoying the Fruit of Oneness

If you are already one with your husband or wife, then it is kind of silly for us to "try" to be one. The question isn't really how to become one. The question is how do we fully enjoy the fruit of the oneness that is already ours by virtue of the fact that we are married?

To make this notion a little clearer, let me draw the spiritual parallel to which Paul alludes in Ephesians. As believers, we are one with Christ, whether we "feel" one or not. How we feel is not the issue. The oneness we share with Him gives us access to all kinds of great things like a 24/7 intimate walk with Christ, the continuing fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the right to ask anything in Jesus' name, etc.  Whether or not we tap into all these great fruits of our oneness does not change the fact that we are one with Christ.

So what are the implications for oneness in marriage? Well, for me, if I really am one with my wife, then:
  • Score-keeping makes absolutely no sense, because when my wife"wins" then so do I.
  • Self-centeredness, self-protection, self-promotion and self-reliance have no place
  • Intimacy in all forms (spiritual, physical, emotional, intimacy, financial, intellectual) is the natural, intended state of my marriage.
  • When I choose to meet my wife's needs, I'm actually also helping myself.
  • I don't need to "perform" or jump through certain hoops in order to earn intimacy. It's ours by right.
  • When we choose the Path of Separation instead of the Path of Intimacy, we tear at the fabric of our oneness.
  • Neither of us is more or less, we are instead a perfect complement. One.
  • I am completely free to bring my full self to my marriage, to hold nothing back from my wife. I am fully  hers, as she is fully mine.
  • When I hurt my wife, I'm actually hurting myself.
What are some other implications of the  oneness you have with your spouse? How would you behave differently if you really believed it? How has being one changed how you live and love? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

image credit: icyyoke /

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Warning! This Post is not to be read lightly!

In my last post, "What If...", I talked about the ways in which we sometimes "what if" ourselves into a fearful, fretful corner. We worry about what might be or about what might have been.

Such "what ifs" are a waste of time and energy.

I then offered you some alternative "what ifs" to ponder, encouraging you to consider the implications of certain statements of truth. You see, there are certain truths that we believe on the surface, things we say we are true, yet we don't allow the full implications of them to settle deeply into our souls. We give them passing acknowledgment without letting them impact our lives in the radical way that they could - and should.

A Reader's Guide to "What If"

I have been thinking a lot about the open-ended "what ifs" I posed to you last time. I decided that these and other "what if's" are worth digging into a bit more, worth really exploring for their incredible implications.

So I'm embarking on a short "what if" series.

Here's the deal, though. I want you to treat these next few posts differently than most. Very differently!

I read tons of blogs. I know how it's done. You scan through headlines, and read at least the first paragraph or two of the ones that sound interesting. If you go further, you tend to give it a light reading, skimming through the content for the nuggets, the gist, the bits of truth to consider briefly before moving on to the next post in your reader or inbox or favorites list.

I read blogs this way every day.

But you see the whole purpose of unwrapping these truths, these "what ifs," is to get them. I mean really get them. To ponder them. To chew on them and ingest them fully. Really take hold of the implications. Pray over them. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and revelation.

I want you to go beyond what I write. Think for yourself, "What if this really is true? What am I going to do with that? How am I going to live and love differently?"

Practice Time

In order for you to give your "what iffing" muscles a workout in preparation for the posts to come, I'm actually going to let you do this first one on your own.It's okay. Be brave. You can do it.

Oh I may chime in with a comment or two as well, but I want you to dig deeply into this one for yourself.

Remember what I said. Consider it thoroughly from all angles. Consider what it means to you personally, to your marriage, to your family to other relationships in your life. What does it mean for how you spend your time and energy? Think about all of the implications of it.

What if it is absolutely, completely, immutably true?

Go deep with it.

You ready? Here it is.

What if... God really is love?

Yep, that's it. Simple yet extremely full of profound implications.  What if God is not simply full of love, or made up of love, but what if love is simply who God is.

Now go. Think deeply on it. Pray on it. Ponder it.

As you process it, finish this sentence in the comments below, "If God really is love then..."

image credit: norgal /

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How do you do "What If?"

I often say around my house, "I don't do what if."

When I say "I don't do what if," I'm normally referring to the kind of hypothetical "what if" that precedes a possible future negative scenario, one triggered by doubt or worry or fear of an unknown future event. "What if we get in an accident."  "What if we run out of money before we run out of bills."  "What if my child makes a bad decision?" Those kind of "what ifs" are almost never fruitful.

I also refuse to "what if" in response to concerns over the theoretical consequences of a past action or decision. "What if I should have taken that other job?"  "What if I shouldn't have said that to him?"  "What if I chose the wrong husband?" More useless and pointless what ifs.

These are the kinds of what ifs I try not to give voice to. 

Some "What Ifs" We Should Do

I'm thinking that there are times that I maybe should actually do a little more "what iffing."  No, not the negative, worry-filled kind. I mean maybe I should do some more hope-filled, promise-motivated, truth-oriented "what iffing."

Maybe you should join me.

Yes, lets go ahead and put aside those fretful "what ifs," and grab hold of a few altogether different ones like these:
  • What if God loves you and me as much and as relentlessly as He says He does?
  • What if the promises of the Bible are really true and really for you and me?
  • What if God's enduring faithfulness really does reach to the heavens and right into our circumstances?
  • What if perfect love really does cast out fear, and what if that perfect love dwells right inside us?
Now there are some what ifs worth focusing on!

A Bit of Marriage "What If"

I wrote the following bit of "What If" prose a few years ago for a marriage retreat the I helped lead. I was reminded of it while writing this post. It's another bit of "what if" that is well worth considering.
  • What if marriage is more than simply a convenient social institution for orderly human procreation?
  • What if marriage was purposefully conceived by God before all time in order to create a living picture of His desire to dwell in intimacy with you and me?
  • What if, when he created the first marriage in the Garden, he already knew that he would ultimately send his Son, Jesus, to be our heavenly Bridegroom, and planned to send Him to His death so that we could live in intimacy with Him forever?
  • What if God, who was willing to go to any length to be in relationship with you, made you for the express purpose of loving you unconditionally and not for what you could “do” for Him?
   Just Think.  What if...?
  • What if this understanding of God’s love for you sheds light on the way you are to love your husband or wife? 
  • What if the primary purpose of your marriage was simply to love your spouse and not so much so that you could get them to do what you want, to meet your needs, or even so that they would love you in return. 
  • What if  love was your only motive.
  • What if love was your spouse’s only motive? 
  • What if you knew that he or she was only after your heart and not your conformance to a set of expected behaviors. 
  • What if what mattered most to your spouse was to live in intimate relationship with you and not how they could get their own needs met.
  • What if you were both able to love each other “as if” your love was already a perfect reflection of the selfless love of God, even when you behave otherwise, in the same way that God loves us.
What kid of marriage would you have then?

What about you? Do you tend to do the negative "what if" thing? Can you offer some alternative, truth-filled "what ifs" besides the ones I listed?  I'd love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment.

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