A healthy, Christian marriage has to include change. It?s not possible to be joined together as two sinners in pursuit of God and holiness and not help one another along on the journey. Transformation is part of what God is up to in marriage, and He uses us as instruments to accomplish that transformation. Most of us would probably agree with this to one degree or another. But there?s a problem: I want to make my spouse not like God, but like me.
Can you relate?
Ask yourself this: what do I think growth in godliness would look like for my spouse? Now ask a second question: does that change make my spouse look more like Jesus, or more like me?
So you love to read the latest Piper book before you fall asleep, but your spouse (who is faithful in morning devotions) would rather hop in bed and watch reruns of the Andy Griffith show. Is your practice really the mark of godliness ? or is it just your practice?
You?re energized from doing hospitality and would have people in your home every night, but your spouse gets worn out by the whole process and would like to have a few nights off. Is that a matter of sinful selfishness on your spouse?s part? or is it just an expression of different personalities?
You want to give every spare dollar to the church?s mission fund, but your spouse thinks saving for your children?s college education should also be a priority. Is your goal the only generous, godly one ? or does your spouse simply have a different way of loving God and others with your money?
Here?s where I think many of us (certainly including me!) struggle. Our preferences and our desires and even our own Christian practices get so bound together in our minds that we spend ourselves trying to make our spouses into our own image. Differences between us become threats or areas where the spouse needs to become more like me, rather than opportunities to see God?s glory displayed in diversity. But if we begin to see one another as persons created in God?s image and being renewed through salvation to progressively display Jesus? image, we may have to admit that our agenda and God?s agenda for change might be very different. Yes, we are to help our spouses change, just as they are to do the same for us. But could it be that growth in godliness, growth in reflecting the image of God in our lives, might be less like the light from a flashlight beam ? narrow, defined, and pointing in one direction ? and more like the light shone through a diamond ? sparkling, diffuse, and scattered in a thousand different glorious directions? Could it be that God wants our spouse to become more godly in a way that complements, but doesn?t imitate, my own walk with Him?
God is not after Christian clones, and we should not be either. Let us pursue change in our marriages and in our relationships, yes ? but let?s make sure we?re helping one another become more like Christ, not each other. As we do so the glory and creativity and wisdom of God will be displayed in our diversity!