Most of us know that Jesus should be a central part of our marriage.
We talk to our students about Christ-centered relationships using the image to the right; explaining that as a couple maintains their focus on God and moves closer to Him, they will also move closer to one another. But what does that really mean? How does that look in the daily grind of a marriage with all its ups, downs, joys, struggles, and mediocre moments?
Obviously, none of us will ever measure up to the ideal. God should be first in our hearts and our minds every moment. If this were happening, it would be easier to love our spouses. The love would flow from Christ, and we’d have a wellspring of compassion, forgiveness, patience, and forbearance. We don’t know for sure, but our guess is that you’re just like us—you try real hard, but sin and life just keep getting in the way! This is normal and okay.
A true Jesus-centered marriage is one where both spouses strive to keep Christ as the focus—strive being the key word here. What does striving mean in a practical sense? It means that you should be evaluating yourself and your actions, and taking steps to be closer to God and to each other.
Here are a couple of questions to help you discern where Jesus is in your marriage:
1) Where does your identity come from?
Your full identity should come from Christ—not from your spouse, ministry, children, or wealth (we know you youth pastors have so much wealth!). He is the one that we should be looking to for our sense of worth and belonging. Yes, your spouse can be a great source of encouragement and support, but their love will always fall short of God’s love. What they can tell you about yourself will always be less than what God can affirm about your worthiness in Him. It’s important to keep bringing this to mind over the years and make sure you’re not putting unreasonable expectations on your spouse in this area.
2) Where does your example of love come from?
1 John 3:16 says, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (NLT) In marriage, it is easy to get caught up in a tit-for-tat kind of love—I’ll love you better when you love me more. This is especially true in rough seasons. However, Christ challenges us to love our spouse unconditionally, just as he loves us. This is difficult and will always be a work in-progress, but it is part of the Jesus-centered striving we should be doing in our marriages.
3) Where does your sense of hope come from?
Christ is the ultimate redeemer, rescuer, and rejuvenator. No matter how rough our marriages get, we can always hope in this promise: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.” (Romans 8:28 NLT) When life gets tough, it is far better to stand with your spouse and look to Christ for rescue, rather than putting pressure on one another to fix whatever isn’t going right. This does not mean that counseling and professional help are to be ignored, but that with a willing heart to seek help, Christ can work miracles.
Thanks for loving each other and your students,
Jake and Melissa Kircher
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