Even though the rain was coming down, and people were working tirelessly on preparing for the days events, this mornings' service was great. I really sensed the presence of God in a whole new way this morning, even though we covered a very sensitive subject.
The text for the day was 1Peter 3:1-7, and the sermon was entitled, "Christ-Centered Marriages". Most people who have sat in traditional baptist churches and heard sermons on this topic, have heard that the husband is to rule the family (in a dictatorship kind of way), and the wife is to obey him (in a slave to a slave-master kind of way). Because of this I chose to be very direct, thorough, and somewhat non-politically correct in my language. I am quite sure that people felt a little uncomfortable with my use of certain words like (if you are seeking your future wife or your wife for physical pleasure only and treating her like crap the rest of time, you are treating her like a whore). I say this as one who has treated his past girlfriends and wife in that way. What is a prostitutes purpose? For men to use them for their own pleasure, never thinking about the pain and trauma that the woman is going through. I hate to say it, we men have treated women like this, in and outside of marriage, for far too long. Someone needs to say it, and I guess I am just dumb enough to say it.
I chose to be very gentle in my delivery to the ladies, but was still intentional in all that I said to them. I tried to encourage the ladies to pursue a Christ-Centered life (personal pursuit of Christ in their personal life), while submitting (honoring, respecting, and trusting God without fear) to their husbands role as head of the marriage relationship.
With the men, I chose to not be so gentle. For far too long we have treated men as though they are delicate and not men. I told the church, specifically the men, that if they were not leading their families well, then they would fall into one of two categories: cowards or chauvinists. Cowards are those guys who say yes all the time (and say yes mam to their wives all the time) and who are so afraid to offend anyone that they fail to lead. The Chauvinists are those guys who overpower their wives and treat them like slaves and doormats. Neither lead their families well, but look out for themselves.
The point is this: that if we are going have Christ-Centered, God-Glorying marriages, both husbands and wives each need to pursue their own individual relationships with Jesus. I tried to give illustrations from our marriage, not as one's who have it all figured out, but as a couple who is being challenged by this passage and whose marriage is being transformed by the Word of God. My wife was so generous and kind as to allow me to use these illustrations, which were very personal to her.
Overall, I hope people were able to look beyond the language and hear the message that Peter is presenting. I personally think that the language used was needed for an element of shock factor, as well as to get people out of their comfort zone and really evaluate their own marriages. My desire this morning was to help stir husbands and wives to evaluate where their marriages and personal relationships with Jesus are. Judging by the response I received from many of the visitors and members, I feel like it was a success. As one lady put it, "I'm not used to this kind of preaching, because I actually learned something today." That statement alone both scares me for the congregation that she is apart of, and encourages me that God is using a young punk kid like me to bring glory to his name, and facilitating change in the hearts of his people.
Thank you God for giving me the mercy needed to pursue you and shepherd the flock you have entrusted to me. Help me not to treat this role of pastor as a hired hand, but as a shepherd who is willing to lay down his life and reputation for his sheep. I pray that you will continue give me wisdom in all aspects of my life, and help me to never cower due to my desire to please man. Help me be strong and courageous, while standing firm on the power of the Word of God and it's sufficiency in my life. Thanking you for loving a sinner like me.