In neighborhood after neighborhood across America, the rows of rooftops conceal people whose lives in one way or another have experienced the impact of family disunity or divorce. Perhaps they grew up in a fractured home themselves. Perhaps they’ve watched a grown brother or sister’s marriage fail, ending in awkward custody battles. We all live in close proximity to the divisive effects of marital problems, whether happening under others’ rooftops or under our own.
But under many of those same rooftops today, husbands and wives who have lived for years at emotional distance are reaching back to find the love that first knit them together. Words of accusation and disapproval are being silenced by a true desire to serve and uplift each other. Some of the same hands that once were so quick to point out mistakes are now being clasped together in prayer as they rush into the presence of God. We can know that a Christ Awakening is being ushered in upon us when we see a decrease in divorces and renewed commitment to marriage between a man and a woman in covenant relationship as God intends.
In centuries past, young men and women found strength to stand up for what they believed, even in the face of pressure and persecution. Joseph stood strong against an Egyptian temptress, because giving in “would be a great sin against God.” (Gen. 39:9) Daniel refused to compromise his convictions in the face of an antagonistic Babylonian culture. Peter and John chose to obey God rather than men: those doing so invited persecution. Others throughout history have done the same, becoming modern-day parallels of those who “shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire…became strong in battle…were mocked…chained…killed.” (Hebrews 11:33-34, 36-37)
Marriage in the twenty-first century could well be our battleground, our “lion’s den,” as we are challenged to live out a conviction of marriage as a God-given covenant as the world watches to observe our faithfulness. Our task will be to present the Christian faith to our families, to our young people, and to the world in ways that demonstrate that believing is an intelligent exercise of knowing what is both objectively true and relationally meaningful. Having convictions, then, can be defined as being so thoroughly convinced that Christ and His Word are both objectively and relationally meaningful that you act of your beliefs regardless of the consequences—but how will holding to such convictions be possible in a “wicked and adulterous generation?” (Matthew 16:4) How can our marriages remain secure in their covenant commitment?
First, we must remain secure in our identity as His Beloved. Because Jesus Christ entered our world to redeem us and make us God’s children, we are connected and bonded to God’s family. The means God used to reconnect with you is the means by which He defines your identity. Because of the Incarnation, you, your children, students, youth group members, or church members are now in God’s family. You can realize your true identity as son or daughter of your Father God, who relationally accepts you unconditionally, loves you sacrificially, understands you intimately and relates to you continuously.
Excerpt from Beyond Belief to Conviction by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler; Wheaton, Il., Tindale House Publishers, 2002. Used by permission.
Praying for a Christ-Awakening, Marriage CoMission, pp. 33.