Posted on September 30th, 2014
1 Corinthians 13:5
September 27, 2014
Social media is not evil. It simply magnifies the evil that is in the human heart.
Status updates rarely reflect one’s real status. We appear always to be doing fun things, important things, exciting things. We are witty, funny, snarky – or bringing a wise, contrarian take on everyone else’s idiocy. We post pictures of ourselves looking our best, and filter our shots to make our lives seem exceptional.
And then we are outraged. Outraged about politicians, outraged about the police, outraged about Israel, outraged about the Palestinians, outraged about religion, the other guy’s religion or lack thereof. And the outrage keeps us from actually learning anything from each other.
Then, when things get really bad? Unfriend. #Blocked.
And at this point you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought this was a wedding; why is this crazy preacher ranting about Facebook?” I’m getting there.
I like to send people pictures of James, my little boy. Someone said to me, “He’s always smiling!” Yes, I sent you the one good picture; I have a hundred others where he is not cooperating, or where you’ll see my house in all its chaos, because I don’t live in a Pottery Barn catalog.
It is in the messes that the marriage is made.
Daniel and Rachel, your life is going to be filled with messes. The best, and worst, parts of your marriage will never make it onto Facebook. But it is precisely in the messes that the marriage is made. It is precisely in the messes that the marriage makes you.
You were made for marriage. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God made us to be like Himself. St. Irenaeus said, “God made man in order that He may have someone on whom to bestow His benefits.” Being made in the image of God means being made to be like God. Meaning, He made you to bestow your benefits, your love, your possessions, your life, on your neighbors.
Today you get a nearest neighbor, the neighbor that comes first. And their status updates, the decidedly non-exotic kind, become the most important of all. “Going shopping. Did you need anything?” “Cleaning the toilet. Again.” “Missed the deadline on that payment, now there’s a late fee.” And stuff we would never, ever tell the virtual world: “I’m just so sad, and I don’t even know why.”
There, in the mundane and in the messes, is where the marriage is made. The one-flesh union is so much more than sex. The two becoming one flesh will mean that Rachel’s hurts become your hurts, Daniel; and Daniel’s sorrows become yours, Rachel.
Right there is the tension. My own problems, fears, anxieties, addictions are bad enough. Now I have to deal with yours as well? And the day, the season, the year will come when you will want to #mute, #block, #unfriend, #unmarry this one, your nearest neighbor. In that hour, you remember that God put you here, God joined you together not only for companionship, help, and procreation, but also to teach you what it means to love.
God joined you together not only for companionship, help, and procreation, but also to teach you what it means to love.
The status of every life and every relationship in this broken world is always, “It’s complicated.” In the midst of all those complications is the call to genuine love which seeks not self-interest but my neighbor’s need. “Love is kind,” we heard St Paul say, and he means so much more than being pleasantly civil.
The concept of kindness is connected to showing mercy. The Christian idea of kindness means to go easy on someone. “Come unto Me,” Jesus says, “all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This yoke, our Lord is saying, is kind; it causes no discomfort.
Most fascinating is how the term kind in the Bible is associated with uprightness. We have been conditioned to think about being upright as being uptight; slavishly following and enforcing rules. But by linking uprightness with kindness, we learn that the upright person is the one who shows mercy, goes easy on the other person.
What does this mean for your marriage, Daniel and Rachel? It means that you can be right and still be wrong. Which is to say, when you insist on your rights, when you try to win, you lose. Precisely by losing the argument, losing the decision, losing your desire, you win. For then you have put your nearest neighbor first.
We have made a terrible mess of this world. So into the mess stepped Jesus.
Marriage is made in the messes, and beginning with our first parents, we have made a terrible mess of this world. So into the mess stepped Jesus. His love for us is likened to a husband for his bride. He loves her throughly, completely, unconditionally, forgiving her sins and wiping the slate clean.
Love is kind, and God’s kindness is His attitude leading to action.
Even when we were dead in trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:5–7 NKJV)
That kindness, St. Paul says, becomes how you live with each other and for each other: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
So, for as many years as God gives you together, let this be your constant status update to each other: Please go easy on me, I’m a mess, I love you, I forgive you, isn’t it the best thing in the world that God in Christ forgives us?
May He bring you both, together and unbroken, to the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end. +INJ+