Have you ever considered just how few examples of a healthy marriage relationship there are in the Bible? You could consider Priscilla and Aquila as a role model, but the glaring lack of examples of a healthy godly example may point to a greater truth. Let’s assume that Jesus is the role model for marriage. Where can we find His example? Let’s focus on the Upper Room. In John’s account Jesus says to His disciples, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” In all of the verses in the Scriptures, this is the only time that Jesus tells us that He is giving us an example [John 13: 15]. We know that in this portion of the Bible Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Was this merely a lesson in being a servant or were there other spiritual lessons? Let’s see the example of Jesus for the marriage relationship. Here we can discover what we should be in our marriage relationships.
At verse 1 we read, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Jesus’ commitment is even more remarkable when you consider that He knew that Judas would betray Him. Furthermore, as you consider the dynamic of the seating arrangement of the Passover Seder or Last Supper scene, we realize that Jesus placed Judas in the seat of honor. Jesus’ commitment is unwavering. Jesus demonstrates the kind of attitude that works in relationships.
Too often we approach relationships with the attitude that if it doesn’t work out we can leave and get another relationship. Unfortunately, this attitude erodes the security and confidence that the Lord desires us to have in our relationships. Paul [1Cor. 15:58, Ac. 20:24] and Peter [1Pet. 5:9] also urge us to be steadfast and immovable. The steadfast or committed attitude helps to establish security in our relationships.
The steadfast or committed attitude helps to establish security in our relationships.
When our kids were small, we read them a children’s storybook about a baby rabbit that wants to run away from home. Each time the mom rabbit impresses upon her child that no matter where he goes she will find him and bring him back home. When the little rabbit says he’ll become a fish and swim away the mom says she’ll become a fisherman and catch him. And so, the book continues from one scenario to the next. Finally, the little rabbit decides he might as well stay home. Similarly, when we have the attitude of commitment in our relationships it often encourages people to stay and work through issues rather than run away.
…when we have the attitude of commitment in our relationships it often encourages people to stay and work through issues rather than run away.
Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel, and wrapped it around Himself [Jn. 13:4]. Here we see that Jesus was vulnerable. God desires us to be emotionally intimate and available for one another and this requires vulnerability.
God desires us to be emotionally intimate and available for one another and this requires vulnerability.
Prior to the fall and the results of sin, Adam and Eve were exposed to one another and they were vulnerable in every way [Gen. 2:25]. But once rebellion and the effects of sin enter the picture there is hiding and concealment [Gen. 3]. People have experienced prior emotional pain that adversely impacts a current relationship. Also people have been hurt during the current relationship. These experiences create fear about being vulnerable. Also, many of us were not raised in an environment where we saw a proper model of emotional intimacy or vulnerability.
I like to eat artichokes and I’ve learned that relationships can be like artichokes. First, you learn that the sharp points on the end of the leaves can be painful if not handled with care. Second, there is a progressive dynamic to the experience. You begin by encountering the toughest outer leaves on the outside and then progress to softer inner leaves until finally you arrive at the heart. Part of the fun and delight of eating artichokes is the experience of working your way through the outer and tougher aspects to the most satisfying and vulnerable heart. Similarly, we need to learn that relationships are progressive in nature. It takes time to work towards the heart and to be vulnerable.
…relationships are progressive in nature. It takes time to work towards the heart and to be vulnerable.
When we communicate we generally seek to relate at a level that we are comfortable with. This sets a mark for the relationship. For example if the first person to speak discloses to a new friend a very personal secret, it would be awkward and perhaps improper for the second to respond in regards to the weather forecast. But the two may be at completely different levels of expectation for vulnerability in their relationship. In all likelihood, they need to find a level of communication that is comfortable for both and then seek to go deeper at a pace that is comfortable for both. We can become more vulnerable by simply asking and listening.
We can become more vulnerable by simply asking and listening.
Questions about favorite foods, favorite desserts, favorite songs, favorite colors and favorite activities begin to peel away the tough outer leaves. Questions about dreams and desires, and greatest disappointments go deeper to the heart. Try to listen to the response to learn and seek to probe about feelings. Try to avoid judging the validity of the other’s feelings. As we learn to be more vulnerable we follow Jesus’ example.
We will consider additional more of the traits that Jesus modeled in the Upper Room, but for now let’s focus on being committed and vulnerable.