This is a short message I gave at a couple of friends wedding.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing both Billy and Kate for several years now. I had the joy of being Kate’s youth minister and although I never got to be Billy’s youth minister I have spent a lot of time with him and have gotten to know him well over the last 5 or 6 years and my wife Bobbi and I consider both he and Kate to be family.
These two desire to be, and are, defined by their relationship with Jesus Christ. If you know them you know they are both very intelligent, you know they’ll both be very successful in whatever they do and they are very talented. If you haven’t heard these two sing you need to. They make great music together. But as intelligent as we know they are and as successful as we know they will be and as talented as they are, those things are not what gives them their identity. Their identity is in Christ. They want to be known for loving Christ and they want to make Him known.
So even on their wedding day they want to deflect all the praise and attention away from themselves and to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Billy and Kate have a great love for Christ and for His church. They understand that their relationship with Christ includes having a love for His church as well. They’ve asked me to share their hearts on this and give a brief explanation of how marriage is to be a reflection of love for Christ and love for the church.
God had a purpose for designing marriage and in Ephesians chapter 5 when Paul is laying out God’s pattern for marriage, as he is wrapping things up he writes, “For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery , but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
God designed marriage long before Christ actually came. But in a mystery that is really prophetic, it has always been a picture of Christ obtaining for Himself a bride. The mystery of marriage is that it points to the work of Christ and His relationship with His church.
“A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife…” Christ fulfilled this in two ways. First left His Father in heaven for a time and came and dwelt on the earth. He came with a mission: to pursue His bride. He would live for His bride for 33 years in sinless perfection, qualifying Himself to purchase her by standing in her place and receiving upon Himself the punishment for her sins. He died for her on the cross. He literally suffered the wrath of God. His Father poured out His divine fury upon Him and treated Him as if He had committed every sin of every person who would ever believe.
He exchanged His righteousness for His bride’s sins. And His bride received the reward that His life earned. In other words God treats the believer as if he/she had lived the 33 years that Christ lived. Christ’s sinless life is credited to the believer as if they had lived it.
So Christ left His heavenly Father to pursue His bride. Secondly, Christ left the natural relationship with His earthly parents to pursue His bride. His obedience to His heavenly Father and the plan of redeeming a people for Himself was His complete focus. This is what is pictured in a man leaving his mother and father and cleaving to his wife. Christ was pursuing His bride; He sacrificed His life to obtain her.
So marriage is a metaphor. It images forth the relationship of Christ and His church. In God’s design marriage is to be between one man and one woman.
The man is to take his cue from Christ’s relationship to the church. Christ lived for the church and He died for the church and he leads the church. In the same way the man should lead in the marriage with a leadership that is willing to live to give his wife life and to die to give his wife life. Leadership is not dictatorship, it is a submissive leadership. Jesus taught by word and example that a leader is one who serves. So the man is to be the one who humbly leads the family in a life of prayer, a life of Bible study and a life of worship.
The woman is to take her cue from the church in relationship to Christ. She is to follow her husband’s lead. Jesus Christ is equal to the Father but in His redemptive role, He chose to submit Himself to the Father because He loved His Father. In the same way the wife is equal with her husband yet she is to live with her husband with a submissive spirit because she loves him and more than that she loves God’s design and does not despise it.
Billy and Kate want their marriage to image forth the relationship God has created between them and Christ. They want their marriage to be a living metaphor. What they desire in their marriage is that when you see the love Billy has for Kate it will remind you of the sacrifice and love Christ has for His church. And when you see the love and admiration Kate has for Billy and her willingness to let Billy lead, they want that to remind you of their commitment to Christ and their willingness to submit to His Lordship.
These two here today, Billy and Kate, want God’s definition for a successful marriage. I believe they will have that. I believe that they will do great things. Billy will probably be teaching in a seminary someday and Kate will probably be great Physicians Assistant. They will sing great songs. They will probably have a CD someday that sells millions. But the best success they will have and the best music they will make will be with their lives together centered on Christ. And I’m sure it will be beautiful music that will edify us all and points us heavenward. We pray that is what will always define them.