Apr 1, 2013
neil

Are you ready to let marriage change you?

 I took a marriage preparation session for a number of engaged couples at our church last week. There were lots of things I would have been very happy to discuss not least all of the many practical issues that a couple face as they get ready to marry. But rather than start there I wanted to start with the biggest issue facing any human relationship: Am I willing to let this person change me?           

Tim Keller in The Reason for God writes:  One of the principles of love – either love for a friend or romantic love – is that you have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy.  If you want ‘freedom’ of love – the fulfillment, security, sense of worth that it brings – you must limit your freedom in many ways.  You cannot enter a deep relationship and still make unilateral decisions or allow your friend or lover no say in how you live your life.  To experience the joy and freedom of love, you must give up personal autonomy.’

For a love relationship to be healthy there must be a mutual loss of independence. It can’t be just one way.  Both sides must say to the other, ‘I will adjust to you.  I will change for you. I’ll serve you even though it means a sacrifice for me.’

In the most radical way, God has adjusted to us – in his incarnation and atonement.  In Jesus Christ he became a limited human being, vulnerable to suffering and death. On the cross, he submitted to our condition – as sinners – and died in our place to forgive us. In the most profound way, God has said to us, in Christ, ‘I will adjust to you. I will change for you. I’ll serve you though it means sacrifice for me.’  If he has done this for us, we can and should say the same to God and others.

In summary:  As God has changed for you, so you can now change for him.

That’s exactly what we find in a passage like Philippians 2:1-18.

2:5-11 tells of Christ’s willingness to leave the glories of heaven and become a man, taking the form of a servant, being willing to die, and to die on a cross (a cursed death – the worst death). From the highest place it is possible to be, at the right-hand of God, Christ now occupied the lowest place it is possible to be, cursed on a cross.

Either side of these verses are a call for our relationships with one another to be utterly transformed by this gospel pattern.

So, 2:2-4 we read: make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (NIV).

And 2:14-15: Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation” (NIV).

The power to live well in a marriage comes from our willingness to change and to let our marriage partner be God’s change-agent. Christ’s willingness to change for us gives us every reason to change for him and to let him use others to do exactly that.  As we learn to welcome change and to say to our marriage partners,for Christ’s sake, I need you to change me to be more like him so our marriages grow stronger.

 

1 Comment

  • Hi Neil,

    Interesting read and I agree that change and sacrifice should be made in order to accommodate for another person.

    Could you expand upon/clarify your point ‘As God has changed for you, so you can now change for him’, as God obviously changed form when Jesus came to earth but the bible points to God being unchanging: Malachi 3:6? Does it come down to the meaning of change?

    Thanks

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