Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Relational JOY in the OT!

Reading time: two minutes. The Bible’s teaching on marriage is all muddled up.  (Don’t panic; keep reading).  The same jumbled teaching happens in the New testament as it does in the Old.  In Ephesians 5:21-33, when Paul describes husbands and wives, he gets all muddled and slips into describing the relational wellbeing between Christ and the Church.  “But I’m talking about marriage… but I’m talking about Christ and the Church…”  Which is it? The prophecy from Hosea in his first three chapters is the same.  God tells Hosea to get an unfaithful wife and to be patient with her, because He himself has an unfaithful spouse, Israel, and He has been patient with her.  So which is it?  What’s the topic in Hosea 1-3, Hosea’s marriage or God and His bride? It’s very muddled together, but there is one point that shines through, and it’s crystal clear.  In a word, we like to describe relational wellbeing as “patience,”  the fruit of the Spirit.  As anyone who is trying to live in a long-term relationship with another sinful human being, in marriage, at home, at work or community or in the Church knows full well, patience is essential. We all disappoint one another.  None of us keeps our end of the bargain.  Like mountain climbers tied together at the waist, we all take our turns slipping and falling.  It’s frustrating to be scaling your way up the peak, only to be pulled back because someone tied to you makes a misstep, slips, and pulls you back. Until, that is, when a few yards later, you do the same to them.  Relationships are grounded in the ability to forgive.  Thanks be to God for His perfect love and grace! Hosea’s wife Gomer wandered back to her unfaithful ways, and her husband forgave her.  It was only a small reflection of God’s forgiving grace to a nation that wandered from His perfect love. We gather with spouse and family and friends before the altar of the Lord each week and we pray, “Lord, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” and we recognize that our patience with one another is only a pale reflection of our Lord’s patience with us. Life with God.  Life together.  It’s all muddled together, isn’t it?  We forgive, because He first forgave us.  We show patience, because we’ve been shown patience. Joy comes from seeing, “Jesus did that!”  Sunday absolution.  Joy!  Jesus did that. Those closest to me, loving, forgiving, patient with me.  Joy!  Jesus did that, too.  I’m a lot more Gomer than I am Hosea!  I’m learning about the love of Christ from those who are so patient with me. I hope you are enjoying muddled relationships, too. Thanks for reading! Subscribe to Blog Do you serve on a professional church worker conference planning committee?  Our staff has vast experience leading groups of all sizes from every church work background through innovative wellness programs custom designed to meet your needs.  Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman today to begin exploring the possibilities or visit our website to see some of our ideas for your conference!