Fresh Hope for Marriage

March 10, 2015

Conflict Resolution Series--Fresh Hope for Marriage

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Robert Cheong

Conflict Resolution Series--Fresh Hope for Marriage

A Word from Your BCC Team: Today we continue our BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on conflict, conflict resolution, and peacemaking. In today’s post, Robert Cheong brings together beautifully the rhythm of worship and the rhythm of marriage and how they empower us to address marital conflict leading to marital growth in Christ. You can also read Part 1 in this series by Judy Dabler: The “Frangible” Heart.

The Rhythms of Marriage

Marriage is good, but marriage is hard. After 31 years of marriage, Karen and I most certainly haven’t arrived. We don’t have too many things figured out except for one thing…we both desperately need Jesus to live life with God and with one another. Even after all these years, conflict can pop up instantly with a disapproving look, a defensive response, or an unmet expectation. I used to be surprised at how selfish and unloving I can be toward my bride, but no longer.

God infused fresh hope and clarity for my own marriage as I prepared for our last Redeem Marriage event when we gather as couples to renew our vision, hearts, and oneness as husbands and wives. As I brainstormed with our Worship and Arts Pastor, Mike Cosper, we got excited as we both realized how the rhythms of our weekly Sunday worship inform our marriage daily.

We Worship Through Our Marriage

Mike suggests in his book, Rhythms of Grace, that when we gather as a church to worship, we reaffirm our vows to God as we are reminded of who He is and the promises He has made to us through Jesus Christ. In this way, our gathered worship is like a marriage covenant renewal.

As I considered this idea of marriage and worship, I was reminded that God calls us to live every aspect of life as an act of worship (Romans 12:1). Given this radical way of living, worship is not something to be added to marriage. Rather, we worship through our marriage.

The more I thought about the rhythms of the gospel (adoration-confession-assurance or pardon and passing of peace-receiving and responding to God’s Word-communion-benediction) that we rehearse during our Sunday worship, the more God encouraged and convicted me of my own marriage.

As I thought about adoration, I realized that as a couple, we often settle for a superficial life. When overwhelmed by life’s demands, we can seek rest and refuge through Netflix. A nagging question kept floating in my head, “How often do we enjoy adoring God together as husband and wife?” I first thought about ways I could intentionally worship and experience God with Karen each Sunday. By simply putting my arm around her as we stand to sing or reach for her hand as we sit to pray, I can be reminded I am not alone as I worship God. We have the privilege to adore God as husband and wife.

I then thought about how we can adore God throughout the week with greater intentionality. We can make a point to share with one another our moments of adoration during our individual times with God. We can adore God in the moment by praying together, praising God for who He is and what He has done through Jesus Christ.

Imagine how much conflict could be avoided if we spent more time gazing at God rather than glaring at one another.

As I thought about confession, I considered our conflicts that emerge from misunderstandings, selfish desires, and self-protective maneuvers. When our focus is self-centered, confession feels more like punishment than an invitation to enjoy life with God and each other. Aside from times of conflicts, what would it look like to have regular rhythms of confession before God with your spouse?

As I considered assurance of pardon and passing of peace, I wondered what opportunities I may have missed in assuring Karen of God’s forgiveness in Christ, let alone my forgiveness of her in the aftermath of our conflict. The thought of assuring her of God’s love and offering her the peace I have from God through Christ gave me a renewed vision for our life together and the sweetness that results from encouraging each other in Christ.

Receiving and responding to God’s Word is something we do on our own, but I started to imagine the beauty and power of engaging God and His Word more deeply as one flesh. If this rhythm is essential for our individual life with God, just think how important it is for a husband and wife to share this essential rhythm as a couple and grow in oneness. Imagine how we can experience each other differently before, during, and after conflict if we seek to hear and submit to God and His Word more than seeking to be heard and demanding the other submit to our desires.

We celebrate communion each week as a tangible reminder that Christ’s body was broken and His blood was shed on our behalf. As I reflected on communion, God reminded me of two things: (1) Christ died for me AND Karen, and (2) we tend to spend more time remembering what the other has done to us and what the other hasn’t done for us more than remembering what Christ has done for both of us. God’s reminder of these two points was both freeing and life giving!

Each Sunday, we close each service with a benediction, a blessing for the road. The benediction is a charge to go and live boldly and confidently in Christ as we participate with God in His mission. I thought about the privilege of blessing one another as we leave for work in the morning. Since I tend to leave before Karen and the kids wake up, I have gotten into the rhythm of standing in the hallway outside their doors and offer a prayer of blessing for each of them. It’s a special 60 seconds of time with God before I head out.

We are far from getting into a regular rhythm in all of these areas. We’re better with some movements than others. However, I am excited the gospel offers timeless rhythms of grace we can live out not only in our weekly worship but also in our daily marriage.

The Rest of the Story

Click here for a link for the Redeem Marriage Booklet, “Marriage as Worship.” The first part of the booklet contains the order of worship we enjoyed during our gathering. The back of the booklet offers a guide to help couples engage one another for prayer and conversation following the rhythms of worship.

Join the Conversation

Use these rhythms of worship to assess the rhythms in your marriage. Which rhythms are making beautiful harmony? Which rhythms are lacking?