If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not professing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity.
You have to be a visitor from outer space not to recognise that our nation, homes, families, and churches are divided, all simply because we have let self-focus on our culture run amok us. When Adam and Eve were created by the Lord, they were in perfect unity with God and each other, but when Satan came into their lives, unity disintegrated. One thing that Satan hates is to see Christians united. The more mature a Christian becomes, the more mature a church becomes, the more active Satan works in order to come and destroy that work.
Back in the 1750s, when the British and the French were fighting in Canada, Admiral Phipps was the commander of the British fleet. He was told to go early and anchor outside of Quebec, he was ordered to wait for the British land forces to come in, and to support them when they attack the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early as ordered, and while waiting, the admiral became irritated by a few statues of saints on top of some cathedral nearby to where he was anchored. The statues irritated the admiral so much that he commanded his men to open the ships’ cannon to shoot them down.
No one knows how many rounds that were fired, or how many statues of the saints that were knocked down, but it was said that when the land forces arrived, and the signal was given to attack the city, Admiral Phipps was of no help, because he had already used up all of his ammunition shooting at the saints. If there is anything to take away from this story, it is this – We need to save our energy and time for the real spiritual battle with the enemy and not with one another.
God created a man for a woman for a lifetime of joy, happiness, fulfilment, and commitment. That is God’s purpose for marriage. Marriage as God intended it, is in the context of a total commitment to self-giving, forgiveness, and fulfilment. Marriage as God intended it, is in the context of a marital covenant for a long-life companionship. Marriage as God intended it, is for a man and a woman to compliment and support each other for life. Marriage as God intended it, is an act of God, and that is why divorce is not an act of God, it is an act of men.
“Things are never perfect in a marriage, there will always be snow storm or missed plane flight or something else to change your plan or dreams. But that’s when you have a choice. To turn on each other or turn to each other and together ask God for his guidance.” – Roma Downey, in Touched by an Angel.
How sad it is that, what God has joined together, only man can separate. In the ultimate sense, every Christian marriage is ordained by God and every divorce is not. Why God permits divorce, He permits it in only certain cases – continuous unfaithfulness that includes all kind of abuse (physical or non-physical). I cannot see it anywhere in the scripture where divorce is commanded or commended, divorce is only permitted.
I must say that there is absolutely no excuse for a man abusing a woman. It is absolutely inexcusable, the chauvinist attitude, the gross abuse of some men towards women. The scripture is innocent of it, it has nothing to do with the biblical faith. In fact, I was listening to a fundamentalist preacher who once said that a woman who gets hit by her husband has every right to pack his bag and put him out in the driveway, and say to him “hit the road jack and come back no more.” I’ll say amen to that! There is no excuse for such behaviour. It is ungodly, it is unbiblical, it is not Christian. The scripture commands men to honour women, not abuse them.
It is absolutely mind boggling for me, it does not make Christian sense whatsoever, for two spouses who have stood before God, who testify before the congregation and before the audience of Heaven, and said, “for better for worse, for richer or poorer,” It does not make any sense that they would both go to the courts of law, only a few years later, and start haggling over who gets the furniture or the dining room as they tear each other apart.
This is my personal opinion, you know the marriage vows the couple recites, they need to be modified, so when the couple says, “I promise to love, honour, cherish…” it should be added, “forgive.” Please, don’t misunderstand me, different levels of offenses have different levels of forgiveness. The little things need daily forgiveness, but the major offense or betrayal requires a major time, and effort and prayer. It would take a genuine repentance, brokenness, and willingness for a total change if there is going to be a restoration after a major offense. I am realistic enough to know that when a spouse betrays a marriage vow, there is a far deeper level of forgiveness, and the level of forgiveness depends on the level of repentance and change of heart.
Nevertheless, forgiveness is still required even if the betrayal (big or small) continues or after a temporary remorse. Yes, we must forgive even in our heart without the person’s true repentance, because Jesus forgave us, and we are commanded to forgive. When I was a young Christian, I would hear the preacher say, “God forgives and forget.” Genuinely, I used to think that God has a case of amnesia. No, not at all, what the word means is that God does not count our sins against us, that is what the bible means by “He remembers our sins no more.”
“Can two walk together unless, they agree?” – Amos 3:3
You can only really knit together things that are of the same nature. You could never knit wool with cotton, it would wreck the garment. That is why the bible is clear that a husband and a wife must be knitted together in unity. Members of one body must be in unity. True believers in Jesus Christ must be in unity as brother and sisters of the Lord.
The apostle Paul warns us in 2 Cor. 6:14, when he said, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” When you try to put two people together, so that they become one, it is impossible without the power of God and the grace of God and the power of God’s Holy Spirit. I once took note of the following amazing quote:
“You may not know it but, you haven’t been planning for a wedding all these years, you’ve been planning for a miracle, the miracle that occurs when God takes two people and makes them one.”– Roma Downey, in Touched by an Angel.
It’s only by the power of God that two distinct personalities, two sets of likes and dislikes, two sets of emotions, two sets of characteristic, two sets of temperament, and two sets of wills can be made one.
“For this reason, a man leaves his father and mother and shall cleave unto to his wife: and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24.
This one single verse by virtue of its content and repetition in the scripture teaches more about family and about marriage in the home than any other single verse. The necessity of the cleaving implies that this is to be worked at in daily living in such a way that the outcome will be oneness, not togetherness.
If you want to get in good shape, you go and work-out, if you want to get ahead in your profession or your vocation, you work long and hard and that takes time. Then tell me please, why in heaven’s name, when it comes to marriage that we think that it should happen without any or much effort, energy and time?
Today, with all the technological advancement, we are connected with people more around the world, but disconnected from the people in the house we live with. A family should stick together, not be stuck with each other. A recent study was conducted to find out what makes a family strong, and they found the following principles:
- Strong families spend time together
- Strong families discuss their concerns together
- Strong families always have a sense of being a team
- Appreciation for each other.
Sometimes friends and advisers can give you conflicting advice. Wonderful as they are, friends are no substitute for the word of God. Their advice is not a substitute for reading the word of God for yourself, for discerning the word of God for yourself, for discerning the will of God in your life for yourself. In fact, it was the advice of some well-meaning friends that literally ruined John Wesley’s marital life.
At the age of 32, John Wesley travelled from England to the US – Savannah, Georgia as a missionary. He fell in love with a Georgia peach, and he wanted to marry her, but some well-meaning friend, said to him that it would be more pleasing to the Lord if he remained single. In fact, one of them suggested finally that what they need to do is draw lots to discern the will of God. They got three pieces of paper – one carried the message “marry,” the other paper with a message, “think of it not this year” and the third piece of paper with the message, “think of it never.”
So, they folded the papers in a container and Wesley agreed along to this foolish idea, and he pulled out a paper from the container which read, “think of it never.” He went on and broke his engagement to this Georgia peach and went back to England. Fifteen years later, at the age of 47, he married a wealthy widow, who turned out to be a poor companion and true hindrance for the ministry. For the next 20 years, John Wesley lived in a marital misery, until she decided to leave him. Then someone said he should have married the Georgia peach. In fact, it is reputed that John Wesley was asked one time, “Mr Wesley, have you ever met Satan face to face?” He said, “No, but I’m married to his sister.”
“There is almost no unhappiness so poignant as the unhappiness of an unhappy marriage, and almost no tragedy so great as the degeneration of what God meant for love and fulfilment into a non-relationship of bitterness, discord and despair” – John Stott
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” – Psalm 13
This unity that the psalmist is talking about is not uniformity nor conformity. There are some people who think that unity is when you lump together a group of churches, or a group of denominations and have them join together in organisational unity. This is not the unity that the bible is talking about. There is no church, institution, or movement that can truly claim unity in Christ if they are not unified on the word of God. A house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:22-28).
“Biblical unity is a unity of purpose, it is a unity of direction, it is a unity of total agreement upon the truth. Biblical unity is a unity of having a common commitment to the truth of the word of God.” – Dr. Michael Youssef.
This principle of biblical unity spreads across the bible from cover to cover, yet believers, again and again, fall short of discerning this very important principle. I believe with all of my heart that this is one thing that the devil works harder on than anything else because he knows that in obedience to this principle, there is a blessing from God that cannot be explained in human terms.
The unity between a husband and a wife is the secret for joy in marriage. The unity between believers in a given church is the secret of God’s blessing and activities in the life of that church. The unity between two friends who come together in Jesus Christ will open the windows of Heaven and bring answers to prayers. Here is what Jesus said in Matthew 18:19, “When two of you agree on earth about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven”
Jesus prayed (in John 17) that the disciples be united together. Why? Because He knew that their unity together in the Lord Jesus Christ is going to be a blessing, and the bible said that these twelve men turned the world upside down, and even the Roman empire was afraid of them. There is blessings in unity and curse in disunity. Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, why? Because they did not understand or practice this principle of biblical unity. They were divided, they murmured, and they grumbled after being delivered from the slavery of Egpyt.
The scripture tells us (in Eph. 4:1-6) that we can experience unity of the spirit because of the very essence of our faith – our God is one; our faith is one; our baptism is one; our hope is one; our spiritual unity and family is one. We have One God – the triune God, He is one, not three Gods. The three persons in the Godhead are in perfect unity, and not a hint of conflict or disagreement. Each person of the Trinity has a unique role to play, yet, there is not the slightest hint of disagreement or conflict within the Godhead.
But that’s not all, there is the Holy Spirit. One Holy Spirit indwells us all, we don’t have two-million or two-billion Holy Spirits indwelling different Christians. No, we have one Holy Spirit who indwells every believer and that is why there is a unifying factor, and we can be united in the spirit in the body of Christ.
P.S. I previously wrote on the subject of unity in a different blog post: