Countercultural Marriage

my-thoughts-or-gods-thoughtsThe Apostle Peter uses an appropriate term for Christians living on Earth: “Aliens and strangers.” This means that those who call Jesus their Lord are to live a counter-cultural lifestyle. Not a lifestyle that changes with the popular culture, but one that stays true to God’s Word.

There probably has never been a more controversial subject in any day or culture than marriage and the relationship between the sexes. Why are these terms “controversial”? I suspect it is because we are naturally bent toward being pragmatic people.

In pragmatism, the outcome determines meaning. If I find something easy to do, convenient for me, and I seem to get applause from those around me, then what I did must be right. However, if it’s challenging to stick with something, and seemingly only a few people approve of how I do it, then it must be wrong. That is letting culture determine morality, instead of letting God determine it.

As Peter begins to address the topic of marriage, and the interaction between spouses, he uses two similar phrases—“Wives, in the same way … Husbands, in the same way (vv. 1, 7).”

In the same way as what? Actually, if you look at the five verses that come before this you will see that it’s not what but Whom. Those verses are talking about our example in Jesus. Peter points out that Jesus showed:

  • submission to God’s purpose—His prayer was, “Not My will, but Yours be done.
  • longsuffering—He did not retaliate nor threaten His persecutors, but for the joy set before Him, He endured the shame of the Cross.
  • servant-leadership—At the last meal He had with His followers before being crucified, He washed their feet, and told them He had given them an example of how they were to serve others.
  • respectful behavior—Jesus willingly suffered the penalty for the world’s sin. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said He remained silent before His accusers.
  • mercy—This always means not getting the penalty we deserve. Jesus came to save us when we were the least worthy of His love.
  • forgiveness—As the spikes were being driven through His wrists, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.

Pragmatism looks at God’s design and says, “Yes, I understand that, but….” Pragmatism tries to find an “out” or a “loophole” that let’s someone change a definition or skip out on doing something God’s way.

If anyone ever had the authority to say, “Yes, Father, I know what You want Me to do, but look how they’re treating Me” it was Jesus.

A wife with a difficult husband may want to say, “Yes, I know I’m supposed to submit to my husband, but….” A husband with a nagging wife may say, “Yes, I know I’m supposed to treat my wife with consideration and respect, but….”

But Peter says, “Wives and husbands, exhibit the same submission, longsuffering, servant-leadership, respectful behavior, mercy and forgiveness toward your spouse as Jesus exhibited toward you!” 

So the question we need to ask is: Am I thinking about marriage—a husband’s role, a wife’s role—in counter-cultural biblical terms or in popular cultural terms?

If I find I am thinking culture’s thoughts, am I willing to try God’s way?

Join me next Sunday as we look at this passage again, and see how a wife and husband can love and serve each other in a God-honoring, counter-cultural way.

144 Buts

144 ButsThe book of Proverbs has so much timely wisdom. Many of the proverbs are presented as the opposite of what pop culture promotes. Nowhere is this more stark than chapters 10-15.

In these six chapters, nearly every verse uses the conjunction BUT to set apart God’s way from the world’s way. In fact, I counted 144 BUTs in these chapters. Clearly there is a lifestyle that God blesses, and a lifestyle that God rejects. 

I would encourage you to read these proverbs for yourself, but let me give you just a taste of what I’m talking about. In chapter 10, the BUTs show us that doing things God’s way leads to:

  • Joy
  • Eternal treasure
  • Honor
  • Blessing
  • Strength
  • Security
  • Peace
  • Unity
  • Wisdom

And doing things the world’s way leads to:

  • Grief
  • Worthless things
  • Disgrace
  • Rot
  • Ruin
  • Insecurity
  • Violence
  • Dissension
  • Foolishness

Or consider the proverbs about our vocabulary from chapter 12:

  • Wicked words are out for blood, BUT upright words rescue (v. 6).
  • Sinful talk ensnares, BUT righteous conversation avoids trouble (v. 13).
  • Truthful words build an honest reputation, BUT a false witness is never trustworthy (v. 17).
  • Reckless words wound, BUT wise words heal (v. 18).
  • Lies are short-lived, BUT the truth wins out (v. 19).
  • God detests lies, BUT He takes delight in those who are truthful (v. 22).

Take some time to study the BUTs in these chapters, and then comment below on what you find.

Links & Quotes

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10 facts on the great commissionJeffrey Kranz from The Overview Bible Project has a nice post called 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About The Great Commission.

“The purpose of the salt in the steak is to do its work so quietly that it changes the nature of what it invades without calling attention to itself. … Salt must get into something in order to have effect, where it indelibly stamps its own character upon what it invades.” —George O. Wood

Good counsel for my fellow pastors: “One great and general rule is, ask advice of Heaven by prayer about every part of your preparatory studies; seek the direction and assistance of the Spirit of God, for inclining your thoughts to proper subjects, for guiding you to proper Scriptures, and framing your whole sermon both as to the matter and manner, that it may attain the divine and sacred ends proposed.” —Isaac Watts

Culture’s Big Lie About Marriage addresses head-on the way culture wants to bend and redefine marriage.

February 27 is the day to shine a light on slavery and sex trafficking around the world. Check out the END IT movement and mark your red “X.”

“I hope the doctrine that Christians ought to be gloomy will soon be driven out of the universe. There are no people in the world who have such a right to be happy, nor have such cause to be joyful as the saints of the living God.” —Charles Spurgeon

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.” —John Piper

Mark Atteberry says, “One way to tell how you’re doing in the Christian life is to count your ‘except you’ moments.” Read more of his post entitled Except You.

Some interesting facts about stem cell research.

Augustine died on this day in 430 A.D. Here are 15 memorable quotes from the Bishop of Hippo.

The way Christians cared for the sick, the elderly, the young and the poor was counter-cultural in the ancient Roman world. Check out The Witness Of Christian Compassion.

Who really believes Lois Lerner’s IRS computer lost all her emails? Probably no one! Now we hear that her devices were intentionally wiped clean.

“One of the ways the Spirit helps us change is by teaching us that God is merciful with our inadequate notions of Him and is willing not only to commune with us, but also bless others in spite of our flawed conceptions. Paul reminds us, ‘for our knowledge is imperfect…but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. … For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood’ (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). So we may be relieved that our walk with God has been authentic and people have been blessed by our ministry even if we have had flawed ideas about God and His ways.” —John Piper

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading & watching today…

“The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes ‘lord’ in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. … That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform.” —A.W. Tozer

John Stonestreet reminds us that even in the scientific community, Macroevolution Has No Clothes.

“Father, we fear our deadly fondness for floating toward the falls when we ought to be swimming against the current. Oh, God, have mercy to waken us again and again to the perils of drifting in the Christian life. Help us heed Hebrews 2:1, ‘We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.’” —John Piper

I love this story: Communion On The Moon.

Hamas are terrorists pure and simple. The Egyptians get it. Why doesn’t the Western media get it? Why don’t Western leaders get it? And why don’t Christian leaders get it?” Read more about the Israeli battle against Hamas in Middle-East Meets Middle-Earth.

[VIDEO] Ken Davis has a hilarious take on airplane restrooms.

The Wall Street Journal rightly sees the situation at Gordon College as The Next Religious Liberty Case.

Dr. Tim Elmore lays out The Messages We Must Send To Millennials About Life After College.

Koinonia

All inIn 2007, Dave Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons published a book called unChristian. In it they reported the cultural view of Christians: haters, judgmental, hypocritical, too involved in politics, out of touch, insensitive, boring.

Do any of these words fit Jesus? No, I’ve never heard anyone—whether in the Bible or in the history of that day—call Jesus a hypocrite, or boring, or a hater. Do any of these words fit the apostles who began to spread the message of Jesus Christ after His ascension? No! Again, I’ve never read anywhere where the early Christians were called judgmental, or too political, or out of touch.

But if these labels are thrown at Christians today—Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13)—the Bible tells us how to reverse them: By living counter culture, by living according to God’s Word. In a word, by living in koinonia.

This is a Greek word that isn’t used in the Gospels, but shows up just after the first Church is born on the day of Pentecost. It’s a word and a concept that simply won’t work in a pragmatic culture, but works powerfully in a biblical counter culture. The word is usually translated fellowship in English.

Koinonia is how the Trinity operates (see 2 Corinthians 13:14). All three Persons of the Godhead are mentioned in fellowship with each other. There is no rivalry in the Trinity, but if any part of it is diminished, so is its total effectiveness and glory.

trinity of koinoniaChristians are called to be part of a trinity of koinonia as well.

  • When I worship God, I am energized to be in fellowship with others.
  • My fellowship with others that flows from my love for God empowers them to worship God for themselves.
  • The overflow of that relationship with God encourages others to be in fellowship with me.
  • And that fellowship energizes me to worship God even more deeply, which encourages my fellowship with others, which empowers them for deeper worship… and on and on and on it goes!

Koinonia is an ALL IN relationship. It’s not something I can dabble in, or be involved with occasionally. I’m either in koinonia, or I’m not.

To see a great example, look at the Christians the very first time the word koinonia is used in Scripture. Acts 2:42-47 shows us how the Christians were not only all in (the Bible uses the word devoted), but how others in the community responded: they were in awe and viewed the Christians with favor. And as a result, lives were being changed every single day.

Yes! That’s what I want to be a part of! How about you?

Noble Revenge

Noble revengePerhaps one of the most counter culture things a Christian will ever do is to forgive. More specifically, to forgive God’s way in which the offending party is forgiven and the offense is no longer counter against him.

But this isn’t what today’s culture teaches us. Instead they say things like—

  • “I’ll forgive them only if they’re really, really, REALLY sorry for what they did….
  • …and I’ll forgive them only if they ask for forgiveness…
  • …and then only I’ll only forgive them a certain number of times…
  • …and most importantly, I may forgive, but I’ll never forget.

Why do we feel this way?

  • We buy into the old line: “Hurt me once, shame on you; hurt me twice, shame on me,” and we don’t want to feel shame.
  • We like to be in control. If we hold on to slights and injuries, then we have a trump card we can play later—“You owe me” or “This is why I don’t trust you.”
  • We mistakenly think that forgiveness makes us appear weak, like our offender won and we lost. And we certainly don’t want them to think they can take advantage of us again.
  • Because if they take advantage of us again it’s right back to, “Hurt me once…” so I’m going to make a preemptive strike and not forgive them.

Yes, forgiveness could make us appear vulnerable. Yes, we could be hurt again by the same offender. And, yes, we could be viewed as weak. But—The foolish thing that has its source in God is wiser than men, and the weak thing that springs from God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25, AMP). Total forgiveness is foolish looking in the natural, but it has God’s blessing on it.

With this in mind, the Apostle Paul wrote—

But Jesus said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

When we are totally reliant on Christ, that’s when His power rests on us. When we say, “I’m going to do this my way,” we block ourselves off from Christ’s grace and power and strength.

We need to remember HOW MUCH God has forgiven in us—He forgave ALL my sins and He no longer counts any of my treachery and rebellion against me. With this in mind, how dare I hold on to the comparatively small injuries others have inflicted on me (see Matthew 18:21-35).

“The noblest revenge is to forgive.” —Thomas Fuller


Forgiveness gives me a nobility.
Forgiveness sets me free from the hurt.
Forgiveness makes me a child of God.
Forgiveness gives me God-sent strength.
Forgiveness is counter culture.
Because forgiveness glorifies God, and not my wound.

What are you waiting for? Get free today by giving and receiving forgiveness.

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