Sunday, August 13, 2017

Where Marriage was created.

The sexual debate has gone full circle from Caesar's time to now. When the Church began its entrance into Gentile territory it faced a sexual minefield. Rome's attitude to sexual relations was in stark contrast to that upheld by the Judeo-Christian faith. How did the Christian faith take on the challenge? 

By paying a high price in its commitment to the Scriptures Jesus believed in. By an understanding that marriage had links to the Creation of Adam and Eve. Believers showed a better way in their marital relationship and its impact upon the children. I don't read of Christians holding protest marches but rather being vilified for their stance and power of debate. The cross triumphed over the sword and the arena by the faithful witness even unto death.

Why would people once happy with a free and easy, unrestrained sexual taste remove themselves from that scene? Why would they be willing to be scorned by those once considered friends? Because the came to understand that marriage was more than sex and having legitimate heirs. Behind it was a spiritual dimension that only the Creator would explain much later. This reason undergirding marriage has for many Christians and church goers been neglected, or worse still, debunked.

Genesis tells us that the Lord created Adam first and from his side made Eve. How ridiculous! We all know it is the woman which gives birth. Why would the Creator stretch our credibility with Adam producing Eve? This isn't only recorded in Genesis 2:21-25 but by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:13. It is only the Scriptures that tells of the reason and it is twofold. One is that when a husband and wife come together in the sexual act they become one flesh. This is why the Bible is so strident against promiscuity. It is also the same reason as to why same sex relationships will never be valid  in the Lord God's sight. 

The other reason is that Eve being formed from out of the side of Adam pointed to Christ and the cross. Jesus is the redeemer. He is also the One (and the only One) from whom the Church could come. The significance of the spear into His side is for forgiveness, yes, but more so for the creation, birth, forming of the Church. That is why the Church is likened to a bride. It takes us back to the Creative act of God in Genesis. Therefore when a person was converted and realised the call upon his or her life a new mindset based upon the Bible developed.

Within this new realm grew a desire to honour the Lord and Saviour. To do that required making a commitment to live a life pleasing to Him. There are many verses in the New Testament explaining the difficulties but determination in living such a life. Too many disciples of Christ have too little understanding of the lifestyle required as pleasing unto their Lord.

Let us stand our ground as to why the Christian concept of marriage is best for our society. we don't have to be rude, crude or derogatory towards other views. However we may need to develop a mindset which will endure various forms of opposition. The best answer is in many ways is being muffled by relationship breakdowns of church goers. What is needed by non-Christians to see is a fulfilled, interesting, growing and enjoyable marriage between a man and a woman who seek to honour Jesus. Let it be your!

Ray Hawkins 13.8.2017
The devotional 'From Eden with Love is about Marriage. It is available from Christian bookshops and as an ebook.
You can get it from me, the author, also.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Marriage, ministry, Mutual responsibility



Lately there has been much discussion about women in ministry. Alongside of this has appeared wife abuse. This blog would like to take you along a path in relation to husband and wives in Christian ministry. When Adam was created God gave Eve to him to be the man’s help mate. There wasn’t any intention of competition or inferiority. God’s principle inherent in that relationship still exists and should be best expressed within the marriage of a minister and his wife. It is called 'one flesh.' That has no emphasis on rank but on oneness and finding each one's differences woven together for mutual strength and honour.  That is a challenge to both. How well do I release my wife to fulfil the Lord’s calling upon her life? Do I have any idea what her gifts and abilities may be? How well am I sustained and encouraged by my 'help-mate!'  

In 1 Corinthians 9:5 there is a snippet concerning the Apostle Peter. It regards to the unsung role of an apostle’s wife. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?’ Why would Peter have Mrs. ‘Peter’ accompany him on at least some of his ministry ventures? Once again the silence of Scripture intrigues and teases the imagination. The macho apostle in a male chauvinistic world was uninhibited and unashamed to have his wife by his side. What Peter wrote about wives and husbands in 1 Peter 3:1-7 was it out of personal experience. Could he have been showing appreciation of a ‘one flesh’ relationship within ministry? It must have motivated him (with her encouragement?) to see converts separated by their faith woo and win their spouses to the Lord. His advice is still relevant.

There is another couple within Scripture about whom we know a little more and yet not enough. Aquila and Priscilla stand out as a wonderful, faithful, energetic couple. Something which has aroused some commentary responses are the occasions when Priscilla is given precedence over her husband. Again we do not know much about their relationship or up-bringing. We do however gain insights about their team ministry. It wouldn’t be far from the mark to say they were comfortable with each other’s role. Neither would have felt threatened when the other was mentioned first in despatches. How different it has been with some others in the Christian ministry.

The male ego is often fragile while at the same time lapping up the ‘crumbs’ of public applause. Sometimes an immature personality is unsettled or jealous when his wife receives accolades for  exercising her gifts and abilities. The attitude of Diotrephes (3 John) can be rampant within the minister’s house as well as with a local congregation. Where, O where, is the beautiful Biblical incentive of ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others’ Philippians 2:3, 4. In the context of a minister’s relationship with his wife and her expressions of ministry surely the same rule applies.

Proverbs 4:5-9 is about Wisdom. This information can be so easily applied by a minister to his wife. There is great benefit to him personally and therefore to his ministry in treating his wife as Proverbs explained Wisdom. The word ‘Wisdom’ has been change in the following passage to ‘wife.’ ‘Do not forsake your wife, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you… Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendour.’ Such an outlook releases the wife to express her gifts and abilities with the husband’s encouragement and pride. The consequences of all this trust is to enrich her life and expands her love, respect and admiration for her man. The testimony of such a mutual ministry and relationship is a wonderful attraction and a strong challenge. 

When asked what has been my greatest asset in ministry I unhesitatingly reply, ‘My wife!’ Mary has been my help-mate in every area of my life and ministry. From a human perspective without her I could not have had our fulfilled and successful ministries. She has been God's gift to me!
Ray Hawkins August2017.