My girlfriend recently commented on the fact that in comparison with others that she has dated our relationship has been first of all based on being Christian brother and sister, I think there are a number of reasons for this and while the reason she gives is adequate (that she was involved with someone else at the time) I’d like to map out what my personal values are in seeking her good and joy in not just my romantic relationship with her, but my friendship, and brotherly love for her.
Paul says to Timothy in his first letter to the young Pastor to “honour all, older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters.” This is one of the passages that I hold dear that shapes how I seek to honour those around me. I’m given a place in the context of the church as a family. So when I first meet her as she is younger my goal was to show Christ to her in patience, in kindness and in seeking her good through teaching her of the things I know in Christ.
I think this is part of what Paul has in mind when he talks of marriage in relation to Christ washing his bride with the water in the word, if our relationships both romantic and non aren’t focused primarily on the uncovering the riches of God’s grace one to another then we’re not focused on the things God is focused on. God is focused on showing Himself to us in Grace, He does this through the Cross of Christ, He does this in the sentness of the Church, and he calls us as members of the Church to be the fragrance of Christ. If we’re more focused on what we can get out of any particular relationship rather than what we can give over that the other may know more deeply Christ and Him crucified then we’re holding ourselves up as idols in comparison to truly loving the other, we’re saying that we’re more important than them, what we are is more important to them than God. Especially in a romantic relationship if we as Christians are more important to the other than God then something is wrong. Part of my duty as a husband will be to present my wife to Christ, for she is put in my care, I want her to abound in God, like all those whom God rends my heart for and more I want her depth in Christ, experientially and cognitively to far outstrip me because if it doesn’t I’m not employing the giftings and desires that God has placed within me for His Glory but my own.
A lot of my actions in the friendship before it became romantic were couched in where I was when I first met her. I was not looking for a relationship and though that changed in subsequent months I wasn’t expecting anything of her in that manner. I had felt I had given over finally that part of my life to God and I was wanting to continue to honour that decision of “God has control of this and His will be done.” It is this that needs to ground our Christ-centeredness. If we’re acting in our life and our relationships as if God is not in control according to the Bible we have no hope and are fools.