Friday, 17 June 2011

Another Wedding Sermon

Samuel & Danielle’s Wedding

Passage: Genesis 1:27, 2:18, 23

Good morning, shall we pray:

Well, it is an honour to be here. I am very privileged to be invited by Sam and Danielle to speak at their wedding day. My wife, Chene and I only wish we had a bit more time to spend together.

Sam and I didn’t use to be very close although we grew up in this very church. I guess where we really began to know one another a bit better was back in 2005, when I had organized a little Bible study on Genesis 1-3. I didn’t actually know if anyone would turn up at all, but Samuel did. That’s the reason we decided on these verses that we just read.

Let me read you a bit of his own testimony from 3 years ago:

The study of Genesis 1-3 changed my perception of God. I saw that God was a personal God through His Son Jesus Christ, who is the light that was there from the beginning, who shone into a world of darkness.

That changed life is the reason Sam is standing here with Danielle now. So what was it Sam saw, that changed his life? Well let’s take a look at Genesis 1:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27, KJV).

We, the human race, were made in the image of God, and after we were made, He said that it was good. What does that mean, what are we supposed to be like? Well one of the things you’d notice straight away, is that He created mankind both male and female. You see the God of the Bible, the Creator God is not some solitary Person. Otherwise all He’d have made is one other person when He made the earth. No the God of the Bible tells us that He is Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that have had a fantastically loving relationship with one another since eternity. And so it is not surprising that when this community-based God creates humanity in His image, He creates a race that is completely based on being in relationships with one another – and that is destined to multiply and to grow those relationships - to fill the earth with His goodness.

We see that idea again, in the next chapter Genesis 2, where after God came down to form the first man Adam out of the very dust of the earth, He takes a look at what He has made, then says this about him:

... "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis 2:18, ESV)

There was something not quite right when Adam was made – no, he wasn’t made with any flaws - he didn’t have anything wrong with his body, or his mind, or his soul. No what was wrong was not what was inside him, what was wrong was that he was lacking a helper – a companion who would be completely suitable for him, much like a key to a lock – she would fit him perfectly. She would quite literally turn him on – it’s no wonder when God makes the first woman, Eve from Adam’s own body – he says to her – Wow!

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." (Genesis 2:23, ESV)

This is awesome – Woman! Then and only then after putting Adam and Eve together, the Lord God said – it was very good!

That is what it means to be made in the image of the Living God, where the Father and the Son love one another so completely so wonderfully, through the Holy Spirit.  We were made to be in this kind of relationships – and not only in these relationships with one another, but in the same kind of engaging, compatible, forever relationship with God – through His Son Jesus Christ. Isn’t that a wonderful plan for humanity?

Yet Adam and Eve, well they didn’t believe that. They didn’t trust Him, that He already loved them, and wanted to be in relationship with them. They thought that they needed to prove how good they were as human beings - to prove that they were smarter than one another, or stronger, or richer, or more beautiful or even more religious - to even prove to God Himself that they were worth His time and effort. They did not believe that they would only find out who they were meant to be when they became the helpers, the servants and the lovers of God and of each other.

Sam has had a taste of that in his own life. Again this is from his testimony:

In 2005, I was asked to lead in my church’s youth camp. I took the plunge to discover to my horror that all these years, I thought I had led a pretty good Christian life, I went to church, I prayed, I gave tithes, I sang praise songs, I lived in a church, even taught in a Sunday school class and did all the things a “good” Christian should do... I asked myself, how much can I keep on going living a lie.

Sam, like many of us thought, that what He needed to do was to prove to God and others that he was a good person. Yet, as he found out through that one week of Genesis studies: “I realise my gauge of goodness as a Christian was a pathetic picture of my pride and sinfulness...“

He was trying so hard to fit into what he thought he should do. After all he is a pastor’s son! Yet he didn’t realise that all he should ‘do’, is let Jesus love him, and when he realised that: “This was when I embraced Jesus as someone whom I could have a relationship with, who understood our every need, weakness and temptation.” Sam finally understood that the very reason he was made in God’s image was that he was made to be loved and to love – and that would make him very good indeed.

Danielle felt that in her own life too – as she was sharing with me. She had a difficult time growing up, she felt that to be accepted among her peers, she had to depend on her appearance, as we all can see - she’s very pretty. She thought that people would only love her if she looked good. And so she had some pretty bad experiences, some of which were her fault, and a number was the fault of others – I can’t give you any details here, but I’m sure if you asked her – she might tell you. But in her own words she said, “I ended up being disillusioned in my appearance – I felt my body just became a tool” – she felt she was not being loved, but being used. That’s what sin does to us all, as we reject God’s love, we no longer feel loved. As much as we try to prove ourselves, we end up feeling like tools, to be used by others.

But thank God, she met some Christian friends at a camp, who began to love her a little bit, and she felt accepted and wanted to meet personally with the God who enabled them to love. She joined the OM ships - that’s where she met Sam – because she was that desperate to meet with this God Who was spreading out, multiplying this goodness, through His beloved people.

That is where our handsome bridegroom, Sam, stepped into her life. They met as they were doing Bible study together on board the ship, and after about 8 or 9 months as friends. Sam, being the techie he is, sent her an email with 2 questions:

“Do you love Jesus above all else & do you want to make our journey official?” Now if that seems a bit strange, perhaps what was stranger – is that Danielle didn’t sleep for 2 weeks after she read that – not because of Sam’s proposal – but because of the first part of that question. “Do you love Jesus above all else?”

Their relationship got off to a rough start, Danielle told him that she was a mess as a person, and she was independent and never wanted to get married – but deep down it was because she was so afraid of being used again, she thought it would be better to be left alone.

Sam initially tried to fix Danielle, to make things right with suggestions on what to do. But after a while he stopped – nothing was working. And he remembered, what really needed to change was the knowledge that Jesus loved her. So instead of fixing her himself, he starting waiting patiently, and praying for her – that Jesus would show His love to her. Danielle responded, “I put him down time and time again, but he didn’t leave, he was so patient, so nice, just encouraging and praying”. Then she thought, if Sam is like this, then what must Jesus be like?

Sam by doing that you have shown to all of us - God’s answer to our rejection of His loving relationship. That is the good news of the Christian faith. God so loved the world – his children – that He sent His Son Jesus, to come along-side us – to be that helper-companion that we always needed. To wait lovingly with open arms, to a people who would put Him down and reject Him time and time again – to people who would even kill Him. Danielle – we thank you that you didn’t end up killing Sam.

The answer to sin, to rejection of love – is the offer of love given in marriage, by the great bridegroom of the universe – Jesus Christ. Jesus came and to a bruised and broken world in darkness, shone like a brilliant warm light, just like He did way back in the beginning, in Genesis 1 – and said to us – will you marry me?

Sam finally proposed when they left the ship – why he waited till then is because you’re not really allowed to marry when you are serving on that ship, it’s a special rule they have. But the minute they got off onto terra firma – in a secret plot with her sister – he brought Danielle to her favourite childhood place in Northern Ireland, Rathlin Island – and proposed, this time not by email, but face-to-face. And in response, that was the first time Danielle said “I love you”. And they told me that day – there was a ray of sunshine, and 6 rainbows.

What a story eh? And it’s true, and it’s even more true than you think. Why? Because that is the story of reality itself. As we know from every love story ever told – we want to be loved – that is what we were made for – to be loved. And so often, we waste our lives trying to prove both to God and to others that they should love us because we are smart, or hardworking, or we vote for PAP, or we are rich or beautiful. And where does that bring us? Nowhere – people only end up liking us because of those things, not because of who we are. The only One who can love us for who we really are is the One who made us and the one who died for us – Jesus. Once Sam knew Jesus loved him, He could spread that goodness to love Danielle. The only reason you and I exist is to be loved by Him – that is why He made us in His image.

Sam and Danielle, as I finish, this is the calling for your marriage. I know both of you are in media, they take photos and make movies, but this time you are the media. You are now a picture, an image, a movie to be watched by a world of cynical critics! People will look at you to find out the meaning of their lives. But you need to watch out, the same sin that turned you away from God in the beginning, will still be at work in your marriage. Sam that sin will make you want to overpower Danielle, I know she has a little height advantage, but you will want to clench your fist at her and make her listen to you to prove your worth. And Danielle, when you want him to listen to you will try by your looks or emotions to seduce Sam, to force him to do things that you want. To say, I’m worth your love. But the minute you do that – that emptiness, that feeling of being used – will set in again, it will eat away what you’ve worked so hard to build today. Don’t let it. Love one another, serve one another, submit to one another – be each other’s helper-companion – just as Jesus is loving, serving and leading you.

And as you love one another, you will do what God commanded us to do in the first place – to multiply – to fill the whole earth. Yes, one way is that you could have that many children, but no, it also means that as you love one another – that love, like the love that God the Father has with His Son, will overflow – it will be a spreading goodness. It will spill into the lives of others and help us remember what we were made for.

Do you here today with us remember what you were made for? You were designed to be loved by Jesus – it’s something we so quickly forget...  and our lives become hollow and empty. So now I invite you all to look at them, the happy couple, and remember this is what we were made for – this kind of love, this kind of married life with Jesus Christ. And that is very good.

Let us pray. 

No comments: