We have been listening to Ps Rick’s messages on the Song of Songs for this past month. I am sure we have all gleaned wonderful insights and lessons from the rare exposition of this book.
As I ponder the messages and lessons and reflect on our relationship with God, I see parallels between the intimate and covenantal nature of marriage and the Christian’s commitment to follow Christ. Christian marriage is also a journey where two persons in a covenantal relationship (like Christian discipleship), learn to meet the challenges of life in a way that will please and honour God. Here are some of my observations.
|What Marriage is…||What Discipleship is…|
|Marriage is a holy institution; designed by God to keep His people holy. It is a public, and yet personal and private vow before God between two persons.||Christian discipleship starts with answering a call to follow Jesus and a commitment to live holy lives, so as to be worthy witnesses to the world of God’s mercy and love.|
|Marriage is an exclusive covenantal relationship between one man and one woman, for life. The couple should not seek out love, pleasure, intimacy and satisfaction outside of it.||Christian discipleship is an exclusive covenantal relationship between a follower and His Master Jesus Christ in an ongoing journey. Christians must be careful not to make idols of anything else..|
|Marriage is a relational covenant which involves giving of oneself to the other without reserve, to become one in body and spirit.||Christian discipleship is a relational covenant which involves giving up the self-life for the building up of the Body of Christ, to serve God and the community.|
|Marriage covenant is for life, regardless of changed or changing circumstances, until one spouse is taken home to glory.||Christian discipleship involves exercising full dependence and trust in the Master in good times and bad, until He calls us home.|
Why is marriage discipleship vital?
To quote Focus on the Family: “Family is the fundamental building block of all human civilizations, and marriage is the foundation of the family. The institution of marriage is unquestionably good for individuals and society, and the health of our culture is intimately linked to the health and well-being of marriage.
Unfortunately, the standard of lifelong, traditional marriage as the foundation of family life in our nation is under attack…. Battered by high rates of divorce and cohabitation, unwed child-bearing and the push for so-called same-sex “marriage” and civil unions, marriage is in a state of crisis.”
An area of discipleship which the church has worked in for many years is marriage mentoring. We have a team of Marriage Mentors whose work with engaged and newlywed couples help them to explore a variety of issues. These include: marriage goals and expectations, communication, conflict resolution, financial planning, household roles and faith issues. They are intended to reinforce the strengths of the couples with whom they work, while modelling and teaching the communication skills needed for enduring, fulfilling relationships.
My prayer is that we will be able to raise more couples to serve in this ministry of mentoring newer married couples. My current team and I have been privileged to walk alongside many couples. In the New Year, we will be giving more focus to equipping our Marriage Mentors and devoting more resources to strengthening families and marriages in our midst. Pray for us.
By Mrs Har Lee John, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 26&27 November 2016)