“Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them out. Just as they are – chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” Dinah Maria (Murlock) Craik
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5.13-16
“What if the truest thing about you can cause you to reimagine your entire life? What if the truest thing about you can drown out all the noise and speak the words that you’ve waited for your whole life?”1
Perhaps at the center of tension and conflict in Christian marriage is a lack of understanding and living out the reality of our new creation, our new selves; a recreated man and woman defined by none other than Jesus Himself. He redefines us as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Notice the declarative nature of these two statements. He does not say, “You will become salt if you _________ or you will become light someday when you _________. There are no conditions on these edicts other than one’s faith and trust in Christ’s atonement. It is at this moment of faith that our eternal genetics are transfigured and we become who He says we are – salt and light.
There is certainly a broader audience to whom Jesus makes these declarations. He has made clear to all His followers that we are to live out of this new nature so as to dispense the flavor, illumination and preserving work of the gospel. But as we apply this truth within the world of marriage does it not make sense that the first place we reflect the effects of our new nature is within the domain of family? If we say to our city that Jesus is the light of the world yet hide that light from the intimacies of marriage, do we not dim the reflection of “Christ within us” to the world (Colossians 1.27); are we not a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13.1)?
So here are two things that happen in our most intimate unions when we fail to live from the riches of who we really are – our new nature. Speaking for myself, I often forget that I am in the midst of a war; a war for my heart. In my mind I am well aware of the truth of the new nature but because I spend an inadequate amount of time in reflection and worship of God my heart gets cluttered with lesser matters – things that are temporary and fading; things that arouse the old man in all his pride and self-worship. It is at these times that I find myself being more snippy, inconsiderate and distant; less intentional, affectionate and refreshing to Robyn. There is a direct correlation to the amount of time I spend in allowing the Spirit of God to speak to my heart, reminding me of who I am in Him and the quality of refreshment and care I display toward Robyn. Nothing new here except that I am not talking about learning more theological facts about God, spending more time in the Bible or listening to the latest Francis Chan sermon. As important and beneficial as all these things are, I am speaking about the undistracted time I need to recognize my emptiness and then be renewed by the presence of Jesus who has given me a new name and resides in the center of my being. You see Robyn deserves more than I can give her with my convenient (for me), self-made love. She deserves a man who speaks out of the resurrection and new life that is found in the declaration of God,
“Mark, you are the salt of your marriage! Live from this high calling and bring out the rich flavors of your union; preserve and protect it by reflecting My presence in your everyday connections with your Eve. You are the light of matrimony! Stay there and bring light to everyone in the house.”
The second thing that contributes to living below our capacity in Christian marriage is that we forget that our spouses are also endowed with a new nature. In our flesh when we are offended by the other we are quickly tempted to believe that the one we married is not who we thought they were; they are less than advertised. As a result we fuel the ongoing perception that “I am what I do.” When Robyn’s behavior is mature and godly she is good. But woe to her if she responds selfishly and abruptly; if she doesn’t do it the way I would have; if on a given day her brokenness is more evident! In those moments I can fail to see her on the peak that Christ does. I can fail to see her as my co-heir. Indeed I reject the declaration made by Jesus Christ that Robyn is salt and she is light and in doing so I reject that same declaration made of me. What if instead I regularly envisioned her as the Daughter of God she is? What if I believed that what was truest about her had nothing to do with what she did, what she has or what she desired – good or bad?2 What if I chose out of my Spirit-filled new nature to believe that when she is acting out of insecurity and fear that what she really seeks is boldness and “perfect love” (1 John 4.18)? Answer: We would see the miracles God intends for our marriage acted out in daily living and indeed the world would see that there is something supernatural afoot in this house; God would be glorified! If we would believe and function out of the true wonder of what God has done in each other we would truly fulfill Larry Crabb’s simple but profound definition of “connecting” – “something powerful touching something good”.
Father, in Jesus name we have been declared salt and light. We are humbled by this new identity because we recognize that it is truly an undeserved gift. As we reflect on this new grace we feel the movement of Your Spirit deep within us. Help us to know that this movement is no rumor but has been etched permanently into our being by your signet ring. May the salt and the light in this house be ever seen. To Your glory, O God! Amen.
1 David Lomas and D.R. Jacobson, The Truest Thing About You
3 Larry Crabb, Connecting
I am so glad that I have been loved when I have been so messy. This is God’s brand of love in us – “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.6-8)
“We are well aware that we are smack-dab in the middle of God’s process of sanctification. And because this is true, we will struggle again. Selfishness, pride, an unforgiving spirit, irritation, and impatience will certainly return. But we are neither afraid nor hopeless. We have experienced what God can do in the middle of the mess. This side of heaven, relationships and ministry are always shaped in the forge of struggle. None of us get to relate to perfect people or avoid the effects of the fall on the work we attempt to do. Yet, amid the mess, we find the highest joys of relationship and ministry.”
Lane, Timothy S.; Paul David Tripp (2006-11-01). Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (p. 2). New Growth Press.