Because the world is not as it should be, experiencing the Christian life is really paradoxical. For example: joy. It should be easy, bubbling up from inside of us like it just can’t help it. That’s what joy implies. But in our fallen reality, it’s a struggle to experience the joy that grace offers us.
I’ll relate this to marriage in a second.
It’s like I was talking about before. We’ve been given so much only to miss it or misuse it. The Bible is devoted to the theme of God, in His grace, fulfilling all our needs and lavishing us with good things. Then we go and whore it out. The things He intended for our good, to show His love, we use to fuel our sin. We can’t help it.
The weird (and beautiful) thing is that God totally expects that from us. He is not unaware of our imperfect state and has never expected us to be perfect. But He gives us things like marriage. Like He trusts us or something.
The only picture I can think of is a parent putting a precious, sparking heirloom in their child’s craft box. Pretty soon it’s covered in paint, mud, glue, and snot.
I love that about God. He always gives us a chance, even if we’re going to fail. I haven’t figured out if He wants us to fail or not, but He knows that in all likelihood, we will. Then He gets to be the life-giver, the Savior, the One who never fails.
There’s the paradox. God knows we won’t be totally faithful, loving, sacrificial, forgiving, understanding, etc, etc, etc. In Hosea, He tells us that we don’t deserve His love and goodness. He tells us that we should be unloved and ostracized from Him. Then He turns around and tells us that He will allure us. He will romance us, bless us, and will always want us to choose Him. He cares that much about us.
It’s easy to see how marriage in a perfect world would reveal God’s character. A love that keeps on loving because of what we were created to be. But marriage in a fallen world can show us a love that keeps on loving, in spite of. And that is certainly God’s character, too.
Whether the world is how it was intended to be or not, marriage will show us more of who God is.
Marriage is part of the gifts that we misuse and a picture of the grace that saves us.
What a wonderful. Beautiful. Haunting paradox.
I may focus on the negative aspects of marriage right now. The possibility (inevitability) of failure; the fact that on this earth it will never be like it should be, even for those of us who are free in Christ; the reality that the sin I’ll have to deal with will be doubled once my fiance and I are one. But I think you have to start there to see all the good aspects for what they truly are. A grace-given gift we don’t deserve. When we feel humble and thankful, knowing our nature is to fail and wound our spouses, won’t our victories be more victorious? Won’t we be more forgiving and understanding? And won’t every day seem more like a blessing?
That’s the ultimate paradox of the Christian life. That only by realizing our wretched depravity can we experience joy and freedom from full reliance on Christ to give us the victory.