[This was share during the wedding our niece, Katelyn, and her new husband, Noah. God bless you both!]
Noah, you surely know by now that Katelyn loves to accessorize!
I’ll never forget the day that Katelyn showed us some of the contents of her bag. Inside were other bags. Inside them were purses and holders of all kinds. Accessories inside of accessories, purses inside of purses, sort of like those Russian babushka dolls, each one concealing smaller dolls inside, until you get to a tiny one in the middle.
Today, as you begin your married life together, I want to talk with you about the essential accessory you will need for both your marriage and your lives. This accessory and what we need to do with it is described in Romans chapter 13, verse 14. It says, “Put on Christ.”
That phrasing may seem odd at first, but it’s deliberate and precise in describing what it means to be a follower of Christ. Each of us knows that, as the Bible tells us that love, the love we need to power our marriages and our relationships, “is patient…kind…not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” We know that it doesn’t “insist on its own way…is not irritable or resentful…does not rejoice in wrongdoing…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Some couples hear that description of love, smile smugly, casting knowing looks at one another and seem to believe, “That’s us. We know how to love.” Sigh.
Let me share a bit of wisdom with you, as your uncle, as a pastor, and as someone who’s been around the block a time or two. No couple—no matter how much they love each other, no matter how well intentioned they are—no couple can muster the kind of love we all know that it takes for a lifetime marital partnership to work.
Only the God we meet in Jesus Christ, the God Who took on human flesh, Who offered His life as the perfect sacrifice for our sin, taking the death sentence we all deserve, Who was raised to life again by God the Father so that all who turn from sin and trust in Christ have everlasting life with God, and Who sends the Holy Spiirit to stand by us, guide us, give us wisdom, and pump us full of hope when it can’t be found anywhere else—only this God can fill you with the love, the forgiveness, the charity, and the understanding you will need to have a marriage more filled with love fifty years from now than it is today.
That’s why you need to “put on Christ,” you need to clothe yourselves in Christ, entrust yourselves to Christ each day. You need to import His tough love, wear it as the essential accessory for living life to the full!
Now, don’t get the wrong idea, the only “happily ever afters” Jesus promises come in eternity. In fact, Jesus once made a strange promise to those Who follow Him. “In this world,” He said, “you will have trouble.” But, He goes on to tell us to take heart because, through His death and resurrection, Jesus also says, “I have overcome this world.” Life can do its worst to us, yet through Christ, we can know that nothing will separate us from the love of God!
Putting on Christ—having faith in Christ—does not come naturally to us. We like to think that we can make it through life on the strength of our own love, or own wills, or our own resolution. But Jesus is emphatic when He says that apart from Him, we can do nothing. The love and help of Christ can be hard to accept; it seems too good to be true that a Savior we can’t see can possibly help us.
But He can, no matter how puny our surrender to Him may sometimes be. A man once approached Jesus. He needed a miracle for his child. “If You are able” to help my son, the man pleaded with Jesus, “would you?” “If?” Jesus asked Him. Anything can be done for the person who believes, Jesus said. “I do believe,” the man responded, “help my unbelief.” It may be hard for us to believe or trust in Jesus—and by the way, harder by far to believe in Jesus when things are going well than when things are going poorly. But if, like that father going to Jesus on behalf of his son, you’re willing to trust Jesus, if you’re willing to put Him on your life and fill you with love and power, you will be amazed at what God does.
Put on Christ! And to reinforce your relationship with Him, be involved with a church family, pray, study God’s Word, serve others in Jesus’ Name, daily repent for sin and trust in Jesus, forgive as you’ve been forgiven.
As you put Christ on day by day, your marriage and your faith will grow stronger. And Jesus will no longer be a mere accessory. He will be, as He has been for Aunt Ann and me these thirty-seven years, “the way, and the truth, and the life,” the third member of your marriage, the One Who helps you confidently to say that while you may be able to do nothing without Christ, you can, as the Bible puts it, “do all things through [Christ] Who strengthens” you.
God bless you both. I love you. Amen