December 04, 2018 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
Once upon a time, there was a conversation between two friends who met for a cup of java. Both of them were just ordinary young women thinking about their futures. The question on the table was this: "Since divorce is so prevalent, will getting married ruin my relationship?" The names have been changed. It went somewhere something like this:
ALICIA: Rick and I have been dating for awhile now, and he wants to get married.
BRITTANY: That's great news! I'm happy for you. I wish I could find a guy I could marry. The older I get, the harder the good ones are to find.
ALICIA: I know. I should be happy, but I'm miserable.
BRITTANY: I thought you loved Rick?
ALICIA: I do. I really do. I know this is crazy.
BRITTANY: And aren't you the one who watches "Say Yes To the Dress" every Friday night? And "Four Weddings?"
ALICIA: Yeah. I've dreamed of my wedding day ever since I was a little girl.
BRITTANY: Well, isn't your dream now becoming a reality?
ALICIA: That's just it. I'm scared to death. Everyone I know got divorced. My parents, my friends, my co-workers. If I marry Rick, I'll probably end up losing him!
BRITTANY: So you think making a commitment will make you both less committed?
ALICIA: Yeah, I know. It's not logical. But half the people that get married, get divorced.
BRITTANY: What about the other half? They stay together! And how many people who live together, stay together?
ALICIA: I have no idea. That can't be good either. Hey, your parents are still married, aren't they?
BRITTANY: Yes, it has been 27 years for them.
ALICIA: What's their secret? Did you ever ask them?
BRITTANY: Yeah, we've talked about it many times. Ever since I was a teenager.
ALICIA: Well, do you care to share? I'm dying here!
BRITTANY: Do you remember that wedding we went to last October?
ALICIA: You mean Adam and Elizabeth?
BRITTANY: Yeah, that's the one. Do you remember that, during the ceremony, they each took a cord and braided it together with a third cord?
ALICIA: Yes! I remember thinking that I'd probably be so nervous that I would mess that up. What was that all about anyway?
BRITTANY: It's from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The passage says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." It's Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
ALICIA: I agree, two are better than one. But it says a cord of three strands is not quickly broken!
BRITTANY: You caught it! Good ears! God commands each one of us to repent of our sins and place our faith in trust in Jesus Christ as our only Savior and our Lord. Adam and Elizabeth did just that. As they set out on their journey of life together, they not only committed themselves to one another but they, first and foremost, committed themselves to God. As they keep God first and foremost in their lives, they not only grow closer to Him but grow closer to each other as well. This is the key to a blessed marriage!
ALICIA: Wow, Brittany, you're like a preacher or something. What does the "cord of three strands" have to do with it?
BRITTANY: The cord of three strands is a symbol of their mutual commitment to God. It is God who takes the initiative to come to us for without Him doing so, we would not come to Him. Next it is the husband who takes the initiative to lead the home in the ways of God. And his wife follows him in this. As a husband and wife keep God an integral part of their lives together, their relationship is made strong and stays strong.
ALICIA: This is like what that pastor who writes in The Gardner News has been saying.
BRITTANY: Now the lights are coming on. You cannot be rightly related to God without Jesus Christ and you cannot be rightly related to one another without God.
ALICIA: You cannot be rightly related to God without Jesus Christ and you cannot be rightly related to one another without God. That means you can be rightly related to God with Jesus Christ and you can be rightly related to one another with God.
BRITTANY: Now you are starting to get it!
ALICIA: There is hope for me and Rick!
BRITTANY: Yes, but it is much bigger than that. There is hope for you that is much bigger than marriage. You can be rightly related to God by repenting from your sins and placing your faith in Jesus Christ.
ALICIA: Sorry. I don't want you think that God is a means to my end. I know. It is much bigger than that. It's a top down approach, right?
BRITTANY: Let me read something to you from the Bible. It's in Romans 3:21-26. Listen closely: "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26)
ALICIA: Can you explain this to me in simple terms?
BRITTANY: Jesus made the great exchange. This transaction is one of grace beyond all comprehension. I did not deserve one bit of this and never could. Jesus gave me His righteousness. His perfect obedience to God was given to me as a gift and it is as if I obeyed God like I should have. In exchange, He took all of my sins from me and paid the penalty for them. I have been declared "not guilty by reason of Jesus." All of my sins—past, present and future—were paid for by Jesus on the cross, once and for all. Standing in Christ, and in Christ alone, I am prepared to meet God. Trust in Christ and Christ alone, Alicia. He is your righteousness. Your righteousness won't do. The only thing we bring to the table is the sin that will damn us without Christ.
ALICIA: This is the first time I have ever heard this stuff. Why didn't somebody tell me this in church?
BRITTANY: You don't go to church, remember?
ALICIA: Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.