Article by Matthew Holmes
It is that time of year where images of romantic gestures are all around and we are reminded of the cliche. Those who are married or in a relationship sift through cultural expectations. Those who are single are reminded of their singleness, for better or worse.
Our culture preaches a different idea of love than how our Savior Jesus Christ defines it. Culture’s definition of love is one well known to all and very attractive. We will simplify it here to three words, “happily-ever-after”. You will find completion and fulfillment in a companion. Relationships are to look polished, perfect, free of problems. But we know that relationships are messy. Marriages are the joining of two sinners. Therefore, do not overly romanticize romance. The end of relationships isn’t happiness, though that is a wonderful byproduct. But marriage points us to an eternal joy that has been ushered in and also awaits us. The love of our Saviour isn’t a self-seeking, fleeting love. Christ’s love for us, his bride, is a selfless, covenantal love that is eternal.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This season let’s be reminded of how Christ defines love. This season let’s lose sight of what is seen and fix our eyes upon the unseen. Let’s seek the One who has truly defined love and freely given it to us. Let’s fix our eyes not on what is temporal, presented to us by culture, but what is eternal.
Look at marriage in perspective of eternity. Look at your significant other in perspective of eternity. Look at your relationships in perspective of eternity.
Here are some ways that we can fix our eyes on the unseen:
For the married.
“…and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” – Ephesians 5:27
Remind yourself that the end isn’t marital bliss. God is doing a work in your marriage, using the good and bad. God’s use for your marriage is carried out into future glory for both you and your spouse. Renew yourself this season to seeing your wife the way Jesus sees the Church, holy and blameless. Love her not with your own love but with Christ’s love so that she will be encouraged to run to Him in all things. Cherish her in a way that she will cherish Christ more. Allow your marriage to give you a glimpse into the sweet glory that is being united with Christ.
For the dating.
Dating is not about pursuing a finished product that fits all of your needs.
I have found that a central verse for me in my season of dating has been 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
The more you get to know someone, the more you see their sin and struggles. It is important when dating someone to preach the gospel to one another, speaking new creation into any past struggles and being excited about the new creation that the Lord is bringing about in that person. Relationships are about trajectory. Are you excited of where they are going and who Christ is making them to be?
In Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, he puts it this way: “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to His throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’”
For the single.
“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
Look to and delight in Christ’s redeeming work in your life and the lives of those whom God has placed around you. Relationships are an incredible vessel for sanctification. God will use them to humble us, discipline us, teach us. But romantic relationships are not the only way that God does this. God often uses those closest to us to do this. Roommates frequently play this role, assisting in the work of sanctification. Cherish whatever relationships that God has placed in your life in this season. Cherish the means in which God uses to expose sin and conform you more closely into the image of Christ.
Brothers, be reminded of the Gospel of Jesus Christ this season. If you are married, fix your eyes on Christ. Renew yourself to loving your wife with the love of Christ and seeing her as holy and blameless. If you are dating, fix your eyes on Christ. Honor God by honoring His daughter by asking, are you excited about who Christ is making her to be, so much so that you will lay your life down for her? If you are single, fix your eyes on Christ. Are you pouring into relationships and allowing God to use those closest to you to continue to bring about His sanctifying work until completion?
Fix your eyes on the unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen, hidden with Christ, is eternal.