Greg and Dena, in the preparation for your marriage we have had the chance to talk together a number of times. And certainly the focus has been on what you can do to help make your relationship stronger. We’ve talked about communication and conflict resolution, finances and parenting. We’ve tried to be realistic and practical. And I think you are both well aware that marriage is going to take a lot of work. It is good to know that. It will make marriage easier to know that marriage isn’t going to be easy.
But that isn’t what I want to talk about today. Because your own efforts are only going to get you so far. The question for today is, how is God going to be at work in your marriage?
When we sat down to choose a scripture lesson, we went through a few: “Build your house on the rock, not on the sandy land......” Good advice, but it’s more about what you should be doing; it’s about your own efforts.
There were some scriptures about Love, of course. “Love is gentle, love is kind” and so on. And love is surely a good thing. But again, that’s about what you are doing. And no matter the quality or the quantity of the love that you’ve got for one another, and the love that you show to each other, there are going to be days when it just isn’t going to be enough. You’re both human, after all. And you are going to sin and do stupid stuff that you will regret.
Gregory, instead of actively listening, there will be days when you just nod and go along with Dena without trying to understand her. Dena, instead of being assertive, there will be days when you expect Greg to know what you need without telling him. Neither of you is going to be perfect. So your love for one another is a wonderful thing, but it only goes so far.
So we kept reading through some scriptures. And then I read Ephesians 3:14-19. Greg, you heard me read it and said, “I like that one.” And Dena, you agreed. And I think there is great wisdom in your choice. Here is why.
You chose to hear a blessing on your wedding day. Ephesians 3:14-19 is a blessing that Paul prayed for churches that he had planted, but today we bless you with it. Now this blessing is in very eloquent and poetic language. So much so, that we might easily miss what exactly you are being blessed with! Paul mentions strength and power and knowledge and love. And these are all fine things. And no doubt we could talk about them at great length. But I would hate to talk for too long about something that wasn’t the heart of the matter. And these things (strength and power and knowledge and love) aren’t the heart of the matter.
The heart of the matter is amazingly simple. And the best way that I can think of to show it too you is this. Take the first half of verse sixteen and the last half of verse nineteen, put them together and this is what you get, “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant....... so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Let’s simplify just a little bit more so that we can’t miss the point, “I pray that he may grant...... so that you may be filled.”
What Paul is telling these Ephesians is that what they really need isn’t something that they can get for themselves. It isn’t something they have. What they really need, what they need to be filled with, is what God can give them. What ONLY God can give them. And so Paul is blessing them with that. He is praying that God will give them all that they need, until they are full up with it. But the important part, the heart of the matter, is who is giving to whom. God is the one giving and the Ephesians are the ones who are receiving.
Here’s the deal. God chose both of you in baptism. He made a decision about you Greg; he made a decision about you Dena. He decided to grant you something, to give you something: the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. You didn’t choose; he did. You didn’t give; he did.
So what I’m saying is that the blessing of Paul is already a done deal. God has granted. And you have been filled. You have been filled with Christ himself. And in Christ, you have absolutely everything that you will ever need: the breadth and the length, the height and depth, the whole shmeer, the whole kit and caboodle. It is yours by faith. What does this mean? It means that you aren’t relying on yourself Greg. You are relying on Jesus Christ. It means that you aren’t relying on yourself Dena; you are relying on Jesus Christ. Individually and together you are both relying on what God has already abundantly given to you. Or rather, you are both relying on WHO God has given you. He has given you Jesus Christ, and he is more than enough. Amen.