31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
This phrase, one flesh, refers to deep soul-level oneness. It’s not oil and vinegar, which just sits on top of each other when you mix them. Or, chocolate chips that you knead into dough. This is speaking of a chemical reaction. Jackie’s maiden name is Choi. I think that’s why she married me so that she didn’t have to go through all the trouble of changing her legal name. So our marriage is not RC + JC = RCJC. It’s RJC². It’s a chemical reaction and the output is a new compound. We are one new person.
You know the phrase “opposites attract.” That’s such a bogus statement. Opposites don’t attract. If you are a rich person, are you attracted to poor people? If you are a nerd, are you attracted to jocks? If you are a hilarious, spontaneous, fun, care-free person, are you attracted to someone who is boring and is a homebody? No, you look for friends who are just like you and who share the same interests. The phrase, opposites attract, simply means, if a man is attracted to any woman, by definition, they are already opposites to begin with. The Bible points to the fact that it’s not personality traits, it’s something much more fundamental. Men and women are complements. We are opposites, opposing halves coming together to form a whole. Genesis 1-2. Men and women complement and complete one another.
How are we completed in marriage? The idea of completion assumes that every person on their own is incomplete. We are all works in progress. We have deficits that need to be filled. We have weaknesses that need to be strengthened. Rough edges that are in need of smoothing over. We are not yet sanctified and Christ-like so we need others to complete us.
Our friends may not be the best people to complete us because if you share a struggle with a friend, what do they do? Friends normally listen and they sympathize. Oh you poor thing. They comfort and sympathize you. Completion rarely happens. But if you take an opposite like a spouse and you come together in marriage, then there is some real chance at completion.
In our marriage, I see this principle of completion at work. As a guy, I don’t really need friends. If God calls me to do something and no one else is by my side to support me, I’m okay. It’s just me and Jesus. Like the hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus:” Though none go with me, still I will follow; No turning back, no turning back. A pastor needs this kind of independence. God, I will follow you wherever you lead. At the same time, this can be a weakness. If all I cared about was me and Jesus and I didn’t care about how the members of this church were doing, then I wouldn’t be much of a pastor. Jackie is much more interdependent. She is relational. She is very sensitive to the feelings of others. This can be weakness if she is overly people conscious, but in our marriage, it can be a strength because she can reel me back. Before making a decision, she asks me, did you think about how this decision will affect so and so or how it might make this person feel left out? No, I hadn’t thought about that. Thank you. She completed me.
This is a mirror of what happens in church. We are completed through our relationships here. This gets back to what I said about friends earlier who are very similar. Our friends who are just like us might not be very good at completing us. If our church is very homogeneous and we all look like each other and talk like each other and think like each other, then there is a good chance that we will have blind spots. And so there will be areas of our lives as a community of faith that will remain incomplete. This is why it’s important for us to grow into a multi-ethnic church because it will stretch us and complete us in ways that would take longer if we were all the same.
Also, even in a church as small as ours, I believe that God has already brought together people of varying gifts. Spiritual gifts are great, but if we all had the same gift, we would be severely imbalanced. Imagine if all of us had the gift of evangelism, but we lacked the gift of nurturing and discipling younger ones. Then, we might grow in number and see conversions, but we wouldn’t be able to take care of anyone beyond that. Spiritual gifts are good, but there is a dark side to each gift that needs to be balanced or completed by the other gifts.
Marriage points to the local church and both marriage and the local church point to Christ and THE church, the future, universal church. How do we know that Paul in Eph 5:32 is not talking about the local church, but he’s talking about the future, universal church? Easy. Name any church in the world that meets the qualifications mentioned in Eph 5:27. Without spot or wrinkle but holy and blameless. Any church come to mind? I didn’t think so. There is no church on this side of eternity that fits this description. So marriage and the local church point to this future universal church that all Christians will be part of.
And this future universal church is ushered in with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb between Jesus, the Bridegroom and the church, the bride of Christ. Whether single or married, whether at Hill Community or part of another church down the street, all of us need to find our completion in Jesus. Jesus completes us. Jesus is the perfect man and the perfect woman. He is the perfect blend of masculinity and femininity. Men, you can look to Jesus and learn how to be a real man. Submit to Jesus’ authority. It’s not a tyrannical authority. It is not an oppressive authority. Jesus is not passive nor oppressive, but he proactively lays down his life for the church.
Women, look to Jesus. In Christ, can’t you see how beautiful it is when there is subordination of an equal before an equal? The beauty of putting power under someone else. Glorifying someone else. Submit as Christ submits to His heavenly Father. Be a helper in the way that God is described as our Helper. Use your power in such a way that it empowers someone else. It’s a power that enables instead of replaces. The fact that women can help implies that there is a deficiency in men in an area that women are not deficient in. Men need this enabling power. Jesus is a perfect paragon of feminine power as well as masculine power.
Marriage and the local church point to the future, gloried church, and ultimately, EVERYTHING points back to Jesus. Now we are back full circle to the first sermon on marriage a few weeks ago. The mystery of marriage is gospel re-enactment. The gospel is embedded in the gospel.
The gospel tells you that you are more helpless and hopeless in your sins than you ever dared believe, and at the same time, you are more loved and cherished than you ever dared hope. REPEAT. We have the courage to face our sins, no matter how bad they are. Why? Because we have the safety net of God’s love to catch us from falling into a pit of despair.
I have one simple application to wrap up this topic of marriage and it is regarding our speech. Eph 5:26 speaks of washing and washing is a very personal activity. Marriages and local churches are places where we see each other’s dirt. How do we wash each other? It says, washing each other by the “word.” This is not the written word, as in the Word of God, but it is the SPOKEN word.
If Jesus were standing here right now, what words would come out of his mouth? Would he say, man, you’re pathetic. You call yourself a Christian. What’s wrong with you? How many times do I have to forgive you for that same old sin? Are these the words that would come out of Jesus’ mouth? I highly doubt it.
What words would Jesus speak to wash off your dirt? He would say, I love you, I laid down my life for you. You’re safe with me. Own up to your sin because I want to set you free. Don’t carry the guilt around. Your debt has been paid for in full. Here’s my blood, which cleanses you from all sin.
Don’t carry the burdens of life on your shoulders alone. Come to me. Don’t be afraid. I am gentle and humble in heart. Find rest for your soul. Take my yoke upon you because my burden is easy and light. Let’s do life together. Follow me. You can trust me.
The words of Jesus liberate us from legalism, and performance, and low self-esteem. We can confront the dirtiest parts of our hearts without being crushed. Because we are forgiven and loved.
The spoken word is very important. Your entire life has been a compilation of verdicts that people have said about you. You are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough. When we are filled with the Spirit and we speak the truth in love about Jesus and the words of Jesus come forth from our lips, we can overturn all of those verdicts with a single word.
Brothers and sisters, choose your words to one another carefully. If you are careless with your words, you think you’ve got a kid’s water gun in your hands but actually you’ve got a rocket launcher. In marriage and in churches, you think you are barely getting somebody a little wet with a squirt when you say mean things, but it’s like the cartoons, you shoot out some words carelessly and you’ve vaporized your target and all you’ve got left is a pair of sneakers with smoke coming out of them.
If having access to your spouse’s dirt, you abuse that power and privilege and speak carelessly, you don’t realize that you have a rocket launcher. And instead of achieving deep soul oneness, marriage ends up being nothing more than a business partnership where you learn to bargain and not deal with the dirty parts. Or, you let the words fly in a raging firestorm that will destroy both of your lives. What words come out of your mouth toward your spouse is very important.
Likewise, in churches, we hold the same potential for good and evil in the way we speak to one another. The life-giving words of Jesus can re-program your self-image. With our spoken words, we can wash and confront sin in a way that edifies and cleanses and affirms God’s love in spite of our sin. Also, with the same spoken word, we can condemn and tear down, enslave and abuse. The words that come out of our mouths toward one another are extremely important. Through words, God created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is logos, or the Word embodied in the flesh. Words can create, words can breathe life, and at the same time, words can tear down and destroy.
Ultimately, Christ reprograms your self-image. Listen to his words. Listen for his voice. Let the fact that He died for you be the only fact that matters. Let that reprogram you. I matter to the only person in the world that really matters. Everyone else can criticize but you don’t fall apart because Christ thinks the world of you.
Jesus loves you in spite of you. A man and woman who are in love. The guy might be a total jerk and people around may wonder, what does she see in him? The couple’s love in the beginning is quite immature or she is blinded by romance so she may not see his flaws, which are obvious to everyone else. I see his heart. Who he really is. The problem with immature love–you see the heart but not the blemishes. A mature love sees blemishes but also sees the diamonds in the rough rocks that are yet to emerge. Jesus loves us. He sees your sins, and he says, let me cover them and remove them from the inside out. I see the glorious person that you will become one day.
Marriage is only a metaphor for the Great Marriage. The real completer is Jesus. Jesus is the Helper and the Head. A great marriage is not enough. It doesn’t complete you. Christ completes you. He comes as the ultimate spouse, head, helper. We are sub-men and sub-women apart from Christ. Look to him. In Him, you will see the completion and the perfection of your soul.
Lastly, Christian life is a divine romance. Jesus is madly in love with you. When you look at how a man falls in love with a woman and sweeps her off her feet and marries her, you get a glimpse into Christ’s love for you. He sets his heart on you with a passion that makes the most daring romance in this world seem like kids stuff. It’s a love that goes beyond any passion that you will ever experience.
Someday, when faith becomes sight and you see Jesus face to face and you flop into the arms of your Savior, you and I can say, at last, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, now that I am with you, I know who I am. I am finally complete.