This weekend I officiated wedding #22. (Not to the same couple, thankfully, although that would be an interesting blog post. Zsa Zsa…call me.)
Whenever I do a wedding, I really get a kick out of playing the role of Debbie Downer. I talk straight to the couple, right there in front of God and everybody, and help them face the reality of what they’re entering: marriage is tough. It’s the most fun tough you’ll ever experience, but it’s still tough.
On Saturday I asked the couple to look at each other, take each others’ hands in their own, and ponder this core truth: “You will only face two problems throughout your marriage, and you’re staring into the eyes of one of them.” (thanks to Mark Driscoll for that quote)
The single people thought I was being harsh. The married people started throwing elbows, because they knew it was the truth.
And then I tried to offer hope in the midst of the hopelessness: Jesus is the only way that we deal with sin inside of a marriage. He’s the only one who can fix what ails us. And he’s the only one who can fill the needs that we often expect our spouse to meet.
At the reception, a 50-ish guy walked up to me. This was the conversation:
Him: “Hey preacher, in your speech or sermon or whatever you call that thing, where did you get that?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Him: “You know, that whole ‘You can’t be what someone else needs’ thing. Is that yours?”
Me: “Um, no. That’s kind of the message of the gospel. We don’t have the power to fix our own lives, and that’s why we need Jesus.”
Him: “Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I’m Episcopalian, and I’ve never heard that before. So is that like a Baptist thing or what?”
Me: “Uh, no really, it’s a gospel thing.”
And that’s when I was reminded how unfortunate it is that the message of the gospel is so unfamiliar to so many. We still live in a world where people try to fix life on their own, where people try to make themselves clean enough for God, and where people try to hide their junk from an all-seeing Jesus.
The gospel IS the point of all that we do here at the Summit. We don’t serve up a hot dish of self-help each weekend. Pastor J.D. continually points to the fact that we’re more wicked than we could possibly know, but we’re more loved than we could ever imagine. The gospel is the fact that Jesus did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He removes sin and restores relationships. He makes right what we’ve made wrong. It’s not an Episcopalian thing or a Baptist thing, it’s simply a gospel thing.
That’s the point.