We (Cindy and Steve) first became aware that our marriage was an
open book in 1987 when it was announced in our church that we were
going to be moving to new city to start a new ministry. A young
couple came up to us afterward and told us that they had been
watching us interact as a couple for a long time and expressed that
they wanted their marriage to be like ours.
We were amazed by their statement. First, we weren’t even aware any
one was watching us. And then it made us stop and think, “Wow! We
hold the power to influence another couple either for good or for
bad.” What if we had interacted more negatively to each other? It
started to bring into focus for us what it says in the Bible in 1
Thessalonians 2:12: “Live lives worthy of God, who calls you into
His kingdom and glory.”
It begs the question, “What do people think of God when they watch
us in our marriages?” We don’t have a choice whether our marriages
will be an open book or not because no matter how much we try to
hide who we are behind closed doors — someone, somewhere, will
eventually read your marriage book.
The truth is you may never know who has been reading your marriage
book. You can be sure your children are — every day. It could also
be the neighbors, people you work with, or even complete strangers.
There was an article a few years ago in Marriage Partnership Magazine
that featured an interview with Ravi Zacharias and his wife, Margie.
Ravi has a phenomenal ministry to bring Jesus to the world in very
unconventional ways. He is a renowned author, speaker and apologist
and he and Margie believe very strongly that “marriage has the power
to change the world for the better.”
They’re convinced that God created marriage, in large part, as a base
for ministering to others. And they don’t let those of us who feel
called to teaching, computer programming, construction or parenthood
off the hook. Talk to the Zacharias’, and they’ll tell you we’re all
called, primarily, to show God’s love to those around us.
Ravi is the author of several books, including Cries of the Heart,
Can Man Live without God and Deliver Us from Evil (all published by
Word). He defends the reasonableness of the Christian faith, but
also stresses the peace and healing that come only from God. Here’s
how Ravi and Margie in their own words have incorporated that same
mission into their life as a married couple:
Ravi: If our marriage speaks to people, it is our prayer that it is
because it is a Christian marriage, not that it is inter-cultural.
A couple’s home should convey peace to people when they come in. And
where people sense that harmony, they will seek your feedback, even
in subtle ways. People have come to the Lord in our home. One was a
Hindu couple. I would love to think that happened because they
sensed God in our home and in our marriage.
Margie: One of the most fulfilling comments that could be made about
any home is that it is a place of peace. And not only can friends
sense this, but also trades people, real estate agents — anyone who
has a reason to be there should be able to sense the difference in
a Christian home.
Think about it: God’s peace seems intangible. How do you establish
it in your home?
Ravi: Peace starts with the discipline of respecting your fellow
human beings. Be kind to whoever you talk to, and gentle and gracious
in what you’re saying. I have always marveled why anybody would be
unkind. I’m not kind to Margie because she’s my wife; I’m kind to
her, first of all, because she’s a person. I see people at an airline
counter screaming at a flight attendant because the plane is late, as
if she had responsibility for it. Think of the peace that is lost.
Added to that is the love of Christ, which gives breadth to our
kindness. When the love of Christ is in your heart, you’re accountable
to him for your actions toward others. Christ sheds his love in your
heart, and all the more you need to share it with others.
Is there something implicit in marriage that shows people how God
wants us to live?
Ravi: Marriage is the one human relationship that reflects the
covenant relationship between God and his people.
Margie: Marriage, the way God designed it, is meant to point people
to God. The family is God’s laboratory where his grace and provision
are put to the test. It greatly concerns me that so many Christian
marriages have fallen so short of what God intended for marriage. We
can never impact our society for God if, in our own families, we
can’t show the love of Christ.
Ravi: Marriage is the first human relationship God instituted. Before
we were ever parents, we were a couple. Adam and Eve had no eathly
parents. Their allegiance was first to God and then to each other,
under God. That is why the wedding vows are so sacred — they are
rooted in God’s first gift to humanity, a pure love, an exclusive
love, an abiding love.
In our society of broken homes, where can people turn to see the
reality of God’s love if not to a Christian home? What they see
demonstrated there should show them that it will take more than
human love to repair their own lives. Christian couples, in the
honor and respect they give to one another, can have the privilege
of showing God’s power at work in a relationship.
We hope you will spend some time this coming week to reflect on
the Zacharias’ comments and especially his last sentence. Then
take some time to pray together as a couple asking God to show
His power at work in your relationship. Maybe you don’t feel
you’re anywhere close to being a couple God could use. If that’s
true, today is the day He wants to begin to change that. Start
by confessing to Him where you have failed and then ask each
other for forgiveness and then commit to learn and apply
Biblical principles so you can show the love of Christ in your
Don’t worry about being imperfect. If God can use Cindy and me
by having people read our “marriage book” He can definitely use