HERE’S A CHALLENGE I recently saw: Are you (am I) living our lives in light of eternity, or are we living soley for the present, without regard to the eternal consequences of our current choices?
The challenge appeared in a book I recently reread on marriage, co-written by pastor and author Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa.
While I thought the book would focus on “marriage tips,” the authors challenged us to focus on Jesus Christ, His perfection, and our failure to be like Him.
Why? Because, the Chans argue, the health of our marriage is based on the health of our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we are strong in our faith and in our walk with Christ, our marriage will flourish; if our faith is weak, then our walk with Christ will be spotty, and our marriage will suffer.
My takeaway from this scenario is that God created the institution of marriage to be our life’s barometer, much like our personal canary in the coal mine.
- MATTHEW 10:37 (NKJV): “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
- PSALMS 111:10 (ESV): “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”
- 1 CORINTHIANS 13:1 (NASB20): “If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Marriage is an “early warning system” that tells us daily whether we’re on track with the Lord or whether we’ve fallen off the path.
That point was made succinctly in Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, which suggests marriage was created not to make us happy but to make us holy.1
You can read my blog on that, titled “Unity and Peace at Home” here.
LIVING FOR ETERNITY
FRANCIS CHAN FURTHER says the health of our marriage depends on our life purpose, on whether we are living for eternity or simply focused on our daily existence.
It’s all too easy, he says, for us to fill our minds with our list of things-to-do-today so that we ignore the most important aspect of our lives — why God created us in the first place. He says it was not to scurry about like busybodies checking off our daily tasks but to glorify God.
Glorify God! How can we do that, he asks, if we’re overwhelmed by daily burdens?
Chan starts his book with a comment that I want to focus on for my life because it is so startling and so prescient that I wonder how I never thought of it before:
“People accuse me of going overboard in preparing for my first ten million years in eternity. In my opinion, people go overboard in worrying about their last ten years on earth.” —Francis Chan, Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Claire Love Publishing, San Francisco, 2014, Kindle, p. 5 2
WHAT DOES YOUR daily activity list look like?
Here are two lists that Chan offers.
The one on the left is what most of us professing Christians will write; the one on the right is what Chan says the Bible tells us our lists should look like:
Two Priority Lists
|1. GOD||1. GOD|
|5. POSSESSIONS||5. FAMILY, FRIENDS, WORK, POSESSIONS|
Chan says, “Too many are content with the list as it is arranged on the left. But that list doesn’t come from the Bible.” Ibid. P. 20
He says that while professing Christians often say, “God first, family second,” they rarely live out their lives that way. The test, he says, is to ask yourself, “If I lived for family first and God second, what, if anything, would be different?” Ibid. P. 74
The reality, he says, is that very little would change, which proves the point that while we recognize our God should come first in our lives, we rarely live that out.
IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, God tells the Israelites, and through them He tells us, not to worship idols, meaning anything that we cherish or value more than we cherish and value the Lord.3
Yet what priorities do we show in our actual living? What comes before God? Is it work, or pleasure, or home, or family, or title, or cars, or musical instruments, or computers, or boats, or … any other of our possessions?
I hate to admit it, but I need to: I cannot imagine functioning anymore without my array of electronic gadgets, from computer to tablet to smart phone to smart watch to noise-canceling earbuds to “tags” that I can attach to valuables (like my keys) so I can find them with an audio beep activated by an app on my smart phone.
Where is God in all of this?
Have I left Him behind? Thrown Him into the ditch? Ignored Him? Pushed Him aside?
I hope not.
As I said earlier, “I hate to admit it,” but I need to acknowledge my sin and repent of it, learning that God has given me this lineup of electronic gadgets to assist me in my labor but not to take first place in my heart.
WE NEED TO KEEP in mind not only that God created us for His glory and purpose but that through the sacrificial love of His Son, He has reconciled us to Himself that where He is, we might live also.4
We are not our own but are bought with a price and that price is the life blood of Jesus Christ.5
When we do that, the Chans say, when we really focus on God and His message of love and compassion to us, when we’re living for eternity with God, then we are living “on mission,” according to the will of God, our Creator. 6
When we lose sight of that call on our lives, we stumble in the dark, unsure of our way.
Lisa Chan said it this way: “Those who don’t believe [in Jesus Christ] are going to live self-absorbed, greedy, sensual, indulgent lives. But those who belong to Christ will be on a mission.” Ibid., P. 78
If we want better marriages, we should adhere to the Bible’s teaching, to seek first the things of God and then everything else — including our marriages — will be thrown into the bargain. 7
OUR FATHER GOD, we are so grateful for Your willingness to reconcile us in fellowship with You after we broke it through our disobedience. Now, we honor You through marriage, in which husband and wife share life’s burdens but, more than that, encourage one another to walk “on mission” for the Lord, witnessing to the secular world through word and deed the blessings of Jesus Christ. In His precious and glorious name we pray. AMEN
- Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, Zondervan, Grand Rapids,Mich., 2000
- Francis Chan, Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Claire Love Publishing, San Francisco, 2014, Kindle, p. 5
- Exo. 20:3-4; 1 John 5:21
- 2 Cor. 5:19; John 3:17; John 14:2-3
- 1 Cor. 6:19-20
- John 10:28; 2 Cor. 4:18
- Matt. 6:33; also C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”Mere Christianity. (1952)