Our calling to be lights in the world and a city on hill is a divine commission to discover points of contact with the world, places where the message and ministry of Jesus Christ connect to the world’s desires, fears, and needs. The truth, beauty, and simplicity of the gospel is this: He is faithful. He is faithful to send His Word to lead us; faithful to send His Son to redeem us; faithful to send His Spirit to vivify, seal, and sanctify us. In the clutter and clatter of the world, one picture continues to resonate with the watching world: faithfulness.
We present God’s character of faithfulness in the honesty of our words and the integrity of our lives. But it stands out in one portrait in particular: marriage. When husband and wife declare on their wedding day that they “promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be a loving and faithful spouse, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health; as long as we both shall live,” they are promising to display to a watching world a divine attribute. But it only truly depicts God’s covenant faithfulness when we actually, by God’s enabling grace, live out those vows.
The magnificence of the marriage analogy in Scripture is that it presents both the completed and continuing aspects of the work of Christ. For example, consider Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. After exhorting his readers to sexual purity, he writes,
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (5:25–27)
Christ has already given His life for the redemption of His bride, but the ministry of sanctification continues (“that he might sanctify her”) with a future goal (“that he might present the church to himself in splendor”). Those who are in biblically faithful marriages seek, in the shadow of Christ, to do the same: to faithfully, lovingly, gently, securely present the completed work of Christ and to be instruments of sanctification in the other’s life, through all seasons (“in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health”). The added blessing of our marital faithfulness is the hope we present to the watching world of the One who is Faithful and True.
In the Lord’s providence, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe coincided with a tremendous ingathering of new believers into the church. As many heard the gospel for the first time, they discovered that a hope in Christ is far more life giving than any governmental system could ever be. Amazingly, that message of hope was delivered through a small but faithful church, reflecting and proclaiming the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ.