Big Idea: We can only rightly understand our relationships in light of the cross.
Sometimes we think of Christianity as something very private. In my home and in my heart I worship God, but maybe it should not come out into my everyday life. Surely the cross does not affect the way we work, the way we raise our kids, our politics, and our fashions, right? When we think that church online, rather than being in a real community of believers, is an acceptable alternative rather than a temporary necessity, we betray a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian truth. If our hearts and lives have been squeezed into the likeness of the Son of God who was crucified for us, then the way we interact with everyone and everything will be different. The closer the relationship, the more sharply the new texture will be seen, but it is inescapable in everything. Every relationship is transformed by the truth of the gospel.
First Corinthians 7 brings this new reality to the closest relationship of all: husbands and wives. Our understanding of marriage should be fundamentally shaped by our purpose as Christians. My spouse and I should always be leading one another to Christ. When we choose to marry someone, that should be a key standard. But if someone is married to a non-Christian, they cannot simply turn that away on a whim, for the same reason. My happiness is no longer the primary goal of my life, and perhaps someone could lead their spouse to Christ. When the unbeliever wants to end that marriage, God has called us to peace, but as much as it is in our power, we are to be salt and light. Would our marriages be any different if there were no Cross? If not, we are missing something essential.
Paul looks at the implications in other relationships too, but the big picture is clear. Every relationship we have should be different in light of the cross. As a pastor, I am a Christian pastor, not a Jewish rabbi or a Muslim imam, but an undershepherd who serves the Shepherd that laid His life down for His sheep. As a husband, I know what love is because of the cross. But it does not end there! As a father, a customer, a driver, and a taxpayer, I should first be a Christian.
Discussion Idea: Through what relationship (with a friend or family member) have you seen God’s love and character displayed most clearly in your life? How?
Prayer Focus: Pray that we would sanctify all of our relationships by the sacrificial love of Christ.