Recently, I was reading a story of a Muslim man who converted to Christianity and the ensuing struggles he faced with his wife, other family members, and his community, all of them Muslim. Rejected and persecuted for his newly confessed faith, he was determined to respond with the love of Jesus Christ. He knew his behavior would always have to be consistent and forgiving if he was to demonstrate that Jesus Christ had truly changed his heart. It was not easy. His wife left him and took his three children away. His father disowned him. He was ostracized from his place of worship and labeled an infidel. Still, he persisted. He was joyful to have eternal life and salvation through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
As I reflected upon the sincerity and depth of this man’s faith in Jesus Christ, it was clear that he understood the cost of following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, in a way that I and many others never would. The reflection also triggered a deeper connection within me as I saw other relationships in a new light.
I have attended many seminars on marriage and relationships. All of them have inspiring stories of couples that were about to call it quits until the intervention of friends, family members, or pastors helped them on the path to recovery. All were embedded with kernels of truth and good advice, but very few resonated with me. Whether it was because their situations were unique to their circumstances, or their problems did not seem insurmountable, I absorbed very few lessons.
The story of this man’s struggles with his faith, although only peripherally related to marriage, connected the disparate marital ideas and stories I had previously heard, into a seamless narrative. He was totally committed to his relationship with Jesus Christ; it was complete submission and obedience, a total sacrifice with no turning back or half-hearted attempts. Anything less would be recognized as hypocrisy and lack of faith by everyone who interacted with him. His attitude and faith were admirable and worthy to be emulated in our marriages. It was an “Aha!” moment.
After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Hebrews 12:4 (NLT)
Many spouses would aver that they would gladly die if it meant they could save the other’s life. There are many examples of these actions such as shielding a spouse from physical injury or donating an organ. All are intended to prevent physical death for our loved one at our expense. These are worthy and noble sacrifices. But would we also be equally willing to sacrifice our life for our spouse so that our behavior would always be kind and caring? Would we give our lives if we could slay the desire to point out a minor fault in our spouse? Like the husband who clung to his faith at any cost, so that the testimony of his faith in Jesus Christ would always be true and consistent, are we willing to live every moment with our spouses with the same holy attitude that we hold our relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?
If marriage is to be successful, the relationship must be elevated to the sacred and holy level that God requires of all believers. If we dare not deny our faith in Jesus Christ, we can do no less with our spouses. It means I need to behave differently when I am with my spouse because every thought and action is being scrutinized by others and a holy God. We must be consistent in our behavior and not violate the trust of God.
It was an Aha! moment for me when I understood that like our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ who are persecuted because of their faith, we need to be willing to give our lives in our struggle to resist the sins that can tear a marriage apart.
The stakes are too high to accept anything less.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.