My alarm went off at 5:45 this morning (an hour and fifteen minutes before normal). When it did, my wife and I got out of bed and, with as much excitement as could be mustered at that time of the morning, headed for the computer. You see, at 6 A.M. Central time, one of my closest friends was going to be making the greatest physical commitment of his life across an ocean from us… and, through the blessings of technology, we were blessed to be able to see it.
As he and his new wife were partaking in their ceremony, I was struck once again by how similar the great commitment they were undertaking was to the greatest of all commitments. For they were pledging their lives, their hearts, their focus, and their dreams to one another… for the rest of their lives.
For the last few decades we have lived in a society that no longer sees marriage in this light. One out of every two marriages now ends in divorce within the first ten years. It is not uncommon today to see people in their thirties or forties living in their second or third marriages. Therefore, it should be no surprise that people look at their commitment to Christ with the same disjointedness as they do their commitment to their marriage.
It is customary for people to talk about how they have “grown apart” in their marriages. What this really means is: “I went my way and he/she didn’t come with me.” Every marriage that fails is because one (or both) parties were more concerned with their own desires and pursuits than they were the relationship with their spouse; and for many, the words in the vows they utter on their wedding day are only that: words, having no true meaning or lasting impact.
The reality is, when those marriage vows are uttered, and the words, “until death do us part,” are proclaimed, there is an oath that has been made that you are going to remain with that individual until death comes to one of you. Not, “until I get tired of you,” or, “until I find someone I like better,” this commitment is intended and designed to be everlasting.
This is the same level of commitment that one is making to Christ when the Gospel is obeyed. The church is described as the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9). Therefore, when I commit myself to Christ through belief, repentance, confession, and immersion in water; when I solidify that oath by the acceptance of his blood for the remission of my sins; I have made a vow that I will be faithful to him and serve him the rest of my life (Rev. 2:10). Just as with marriage, it is not a relationship that can be built on selfishness, but selflessness (1 John 4:7-5:3).
It is also interesting to note the style of commitment necessary is the same in marriage and Christianity. The marriage vows often use such phrases as: “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Such is the same commitment we make to Christ: that we will remain with him through thick and thin, in joy or struggle, in life or death (Phi. 1:20-22; 4:11-13).
There can be no doubt that the greatest physical commitment (marriage) and the greatest spiritual commitment (Christianity) both carry the same basic principle: the selfless willingness to make the other party the core of one’s focus. Yet, these two commitments are not mutually exclusive, for when we are willing to make the full spiritual commitment Christ requires, we will be equally able to make the physical commitment marriage requires (Eph. 5:21-32). How committed are you to both Christ and your marriage?