Radical Love

Today I am really excited to have Elizabeth Spence guest blogging with me! I really love Elizabeth’s heart on marriage, and you can check out wonderful writing by her and other amazing wives at her blog, The Warrior Wives.
Ps. Don’t worry – my last post on the theology of sex will be here on Wednesday.

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The ring was on my finger.  Wedding plans were under way.  My love for my fiance was exciting and I frequently dreamed about the day when we would be officially Mr and Mrs Dave Spence.  Together, we were working through the prerequisite premarital counseling required by our church before we could be married, counseling designed to help us work out important issues prior to entering into the marriage covenant.  Finances, housework, communication, sex…we talked about it all.  At the time, I remember vaguely thinking that marriage might be hard sometimes, but in my blushing bride naivety, I thought, “Well, we’ll just talk about it and then it will be fine.”  I knew of lots of good marriage books and had heard of some good marriage conferences.   I thought we had the perfect recipe for marital success.

If you’ve been married for longer than a day, you know how that turned out.

Although marriage can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life, it can also be one of the hardest.  And it doesn’t just take reading a few marriage books or attending a few marriage conferences or having a few really solid conversations about issues.  No, if a marriage is going to be successful, it’s going to take some seriously radical living.

Being radical is all the rage within the Christian community right now.  Authors like Francis Chan and David Platt are challenging the status quo within the church and inspiring many people to truly imitate Christ and fulfill his call to make disciples of all nations.  One of the most controversial statements that Francis Chan makes in his book Crazy Love is this: “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing.  To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians.  We will not see them in heaven (p.83-84).”  In other words, the only way to live the Christian life is to live completely sold out for Christ, no matter how radical this looks to the rest of the world.

Marriage shouldn’t be any different.  To put a spin on what Chan says, there should be no such thing as a lukewarm spouse or lukewarm love.  We are called to love radically, even in our marriage.  Christ is calling us to love even when we don’t feel loved. To love even when we aren’t being treated well. To give up our rights, the things we think we have deserved.  To see our husband’s desires and preferences as more important than our own.  To seek to serve and understand and appreciate and honor even when we find ourselves in a marriage that doesn’t measure up to our expectations.

I think that far too many of us wives have bought into worldly wisdom that prompts us to tell ourselves that we deserve to be happy, that we should stand up for ourselves, that our desires and needs are more important than our spouses, that we’ll only be kind to him if he’s kind to us first. I think Jesus would call us to task for thinking that way.

Am I preaching to you because I’ve arrived?  Nope.  I’ve only been married for a little over nine years, and so far 2 1/2 years of those nine years were fairly miserable.  I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it, especially when 18 months into our marriage, my husband informed me that he was unhappy and was leaving.  He didn’t.  God had an awesome transformation in store for us.  But you know what I know from here on the other side?  It takes a huge amount of work.  It takes enormous self-sacrifice.  It takes more guts than you think you have to push through the struggles.  It takes humility and compassion that can only come directly from our source of strength – God.

A godly marriage will require a fight, a fight for which you will need to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Eph 6:12-13).   Yes, it is hard.  But God is faithful and will give you the strength and even the motivation to serve your husband radically.  With His help, you can do it.  You can be a warrior wife.

11 thoughts on “Radical Love

  1. This kind of reminded me of an story I recently read about a Bible translator working with the Hdi people in Cameroon:
    “Translator Lee was confident that God had planted a clue somewhere in the Hdi culture to let the people know who He was and how He wanted to relate to them. But though he searched, he could not find it.
    Then God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee and his wife had learned that verbs in the Hdi language always end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find an ‘i’ and an ‘a’ form – no ‘u’ form.
    Lee asked his Hdi translation helpers, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. “That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.” He asked, “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.” Then Lee asked, “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” Everyone laughed. “Of course not! If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did or didn’t do. No, we would never use the word ‘dvu.’ That would mean a kind of love that doesn’t exist.”
    Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”
    There was complete silence for three or four minutes, then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of the Cameroonian men. Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. It would mean He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”
    One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you, based on Who I am. I love you because of Me and NOT because of you.”
    God had encoded the story of His unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there — available, grammatically correct and understandable, but unused. When the word was finally spoken, it called into question their entire belief system, and the number of Christ-followers quickly grew from a few hundred to several thousand.”
    The New Testament in Hdi is ready to be printed now, and 29,000 speakers will soon be able to feel the impact of passages like Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘dvu’-d the church…”

  2. I love this Elizabeth! We really do have to fight for our marriages every day. It takes intense action on a daily basis to make our marriages thrive. Without effort, we simply drift away from one another and our hearts become cold. Without forgiveness and grace, we become hardened and bitter towards our spouses. So glad you’ve been fighting for your marriage for the past nine years! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • The daily action is so important. I remember a quote from Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect? (my most favorite marriage book) where he says, “Your marriage may be good, but it is never safe”. We just can’t allow ourselves to slack off.

  3. This is great, Elizabeth. I love what you are challenging all of us to do and be in our marriages. Marriage truly takes “radical love” and I’m so glad we have a radical God who can supply what we need to pour down on our spouses and those in our lives. Thanks for this inspiring post!

  4. Wow i love this post Elizabeth. I wrote something along these lines just this week in a post titled “the danger of familiarity in marriage” So often we drift into “flight” , instead of fighting for our relationship. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. This is yet another great post I’ve discovered since I started poking around for women with thoughts (written thoughts, that is) complimentary to my own.

    I have been out of the blogging community for a few years and just started back recently with a new focus. A truly amazing group of Godly women are telling it plainly with the kind of instruction I could so have used 15 years ago. Better late than never though.

    Thanks for your wise words and God bless.

    Colleen

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