“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke
You may have as a father, as an older sibling, walked into a lovely field at night, an open space far away from bulbs, mobile screens and headlights. With a canopy filled with far-away stars and the misty hint of our galaxy, the Milky Way, looking down, you may have had to face a jolly volley of questions –
“ Papa, what comes after that last star there?” “Didi, does that star have another Didi like you?” “Is there ice-cream on Mars?”
Few things fascinate us like the vastness and mystery of outer space. One way popular culture reflects this is from our own childhoods; glued to the TV screen by enthralling space fiction shows. So many of us have cherished adventure stories at the cosmic-level, showcased by T.V. shows like Star Trek, and by a host of movies ranging from Star Wars to Sunshine, all exploring in one way or the other, the excitement and vastness of the unknown deep expanses of space, chasing that near-eternal question : who is out there?
The three Marg churches in Pune met at Bible Center for our first-ever marriage & parenting retreat, earlier this month. This much-awaited retreat began with a session on the gospel. Where else to start but the one place that is the joy of and the most important thing for the Christ-follower!
1. Marg & Baptist-wale John
It is so easy to believe that I have been living and mostly obeying the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ. That was until the session began with the question – “who qualifies for John the Baptist’s repentance?”.
Baptist wale bhai ka message was simple – You drop everything. Cut your ties with the values and things of this world, for an THE emperor is coming, to build a nation who trust and obeys Him, a people possessed by God himself!
Sadly I realised that I was comforting myself by trying to obey a diluted, easy version of the gospel. I “believed” the true gospel alright. But actions like hoarding possessions and money especially when there are people in dire need and my recurring lack of discipline assured me that such actions are in direct opposition to the good news John preached (Mark 1:1-4).
If John the baptist came today to my home, I am afraid he might say “Aravind, you say you are a Christian, but I don’t think I can baptize you”.
The Holy Bible is abundantly clear on what happens to those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ in 2 Thess 1:8, Rom 2:8 and 1 Peter 4:17 – flaming wrath and punishment. That’s hard to digest. Those who repent and believe in the message of Jesus Christ have radically different lifestyles, as was shown in the life of the early church (Acts 2:42-47). It’s time for examining my actions, motivations and the kind of spending I do for “normal needs”.
2. The Marriage Sessions
The 1st session on marriage took us through Genesis 2, Genesis 24 and Ephesians 5, to show God’s total control in selecting marriage partners, man’s sustaining them to represent the amazing relationship between Jesus Christ and His people.
The 2nd session “Murder Within Marriage” discussed various aspects of two sins that need to be eliminated within Christian marriages today; Individualism and Isolation.
Put to death – S.L.A.P.
Selfishness- Are you against your spouse? Do you look to support them or oppose them more?
Lies- “Every thing’s fine”. Hiding failures, out of fear.
Apathy- Husbands who come home from work, don’t think that their wives have spent the same time in an often tougher work environment- the home.
Profanity- We profane our spouses by not being diligent in keeping them pure through study of God’s Word and praying together to Him and praying for their spouses.
Live as Christ -K.I.S.S.
Knowing your spouse- Your love for your spouse will be affected by your knowledge of them or by your ignorance about them. Ignorance about how your spouse would like to be loved, is in direct disobedience to 1 Peter 3:7.
Impress- Don’t be lazy in marriage. Shave, work-out, do all those things you used to do as a single person! Impress your spouse! The church is being impressed by Christ’s amazing nature each hour. Learn from Him to not be lazy in the right things!
Serve- Yes, do the dishes! Yes, tire yourself cleaning out so she doesn’t have to! Quite a few of us have had wrong examples of service in our culture that we think is not wrong. It could be!
Sanctify- The ultimate service you could do for your wife. Some of us think “family devotional” time is for our kids’ benefit! Men need to be diligent in who God has entrusted with first, their wives!