Sanctification, Odd Couples, and the Seinfeld Effect


For just a moment, join me in remembering some of television’s best comedic duos (trust me, there is a point to this).

  • Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza.
  • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
  • Andy Griffith and Barney Fife.
  • Jim Halpert and Dwight Shrute.
  • Leo Marvin and Bob Wiley.
  • Bert and Ernie.

Each of these brilliant duos has one thing in common: The combination of a normal, straight-laced guy, with a total nut job. In almost every situation, each guy drives the other one crazy.

Dwight insists on sitting on an exercise ball instead of a normal office chair. Jim pops the exercise ball with a pair of scissors. Bert tries to keep their apartment neat and organized.

Ernie is constantly bringing chaos into the apartment.

Jerry wants to join together with George, Kramer, and Elaine, to buy a television for their engaged friend. George, who is a perpetual cheapskate, can’t believe they are spending so much money on one person.

By themselves, the characters wouldn’t be nearly as funny. I suspect this is why the solo projects by these guys haven’t been nearly as successful (what has Jason Alexander done in the last twenty years other than Dunston Checks In?).

God Loves Odd Couples

God also seems to have a particular affection for odd couples. In fact, one of the primary ways he sanctifies us is through the quirks and quaintness of other people.

God uses people not like us to make us like him.

All of us are like stones (the real kind, not the band). We have sharp edges, rough spots, and unsightly cracks. Our character flaws jut out, causing cuts and scrapes and gashes in other people.

God uses people not like us to make us like him. Click to Tweet

But when God puts us together, whether in marriage or in a church or in a friendship, we begin to smooth each other out. God puts us in the tumbler of his grace and we begin knocking against each other, slowly wearing the sharp edges off.


For example, I’ve never been a particularly sympathetic, compassionate person. When I was younger, I didn’t have much patience for what I considered to be the weaknesses of other people (despite the fact that I am rife with weaknesses).

Then God gave me three daughters. Three daughters mean a lot of drama, a lot of crying, and a lot of mermaid talk. It means hormones and princesses and other strange, unfamiliar concepts.

Having three daughters has forced me to grow in compassion and mercy and sympathy. It simply doesn’t work for me to tell my daughters to suck it up when they get hurt or when they are sad. I need to comfort them and be compassionate toward them.

In his infinite wisdom, God gave me daughters who are very different from me in order that I might grow in holiness. God joined me with three little girls who are wonderfully different from me.

God has also paired you up with people who are very different from you. You are creative and artsy and spontaneous. Your husband is ordered and regimented and inflexible. God has put you together in order to sanctify you both.

You are neat and clean and hygienic. Your son could wear the same pair of jeans for a month straight until they can stand on their own. God has intentionally brought you together!

You are passionate about the outdoors. Your daughter is more interested in writing and performing music. God has paired you together in order that you might serve each other.

You love binge watching Netflix. Your best friend wants to play pickup basketball. That friendship is no mistake.

Don’t Despise The Differences

It can be really tempting to wish those who were close to us were more like us. Sometimes we try to make them in our own image, forcing them to adapt to what we want. This is a mistake.

The beauty of the gospel is that it creates love between people who would normally despise each other. It takes us far beyond, “Can’t we all just get along?” It makes us brothers and sisters.

Don’t despise the stark differences in your spouse, children, or friends. Don’t view those differences as obstacles. Instead, see them as divine opportunities. God has joined you to those people in order that both of you might grow in holiness. God brings odd couples together to help the odd couples grow in godliness.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Seinfeld marathon to watch.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer. I drink too much coffee and know too much about Star Wars. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook