And I love it. It’s an amazing privilege to counsel young couples, meet their families, have a front row seat as they make their vows, and pray for them and bless them as they step into marriage.
The only downside (for me) is that because all the young adults who I’m marrying all go to each other’s weddings, I don’t get to recycle wedding sermons. Ever.
All pastors recycle wedding sermons. It’s a trick of the trade. It’s just how it works. But not me. Not ever. So I thought maybe I could get an extra bounce out of the one I preached tonight by posting it here.
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse and April Sweeney!
“To Be Love”
1 Peter 1:22-25
This is a great honor for me, friends. Leslie and I love you both very much. Jesse, you’ve become like a brother to me, and I’d do anything for you. I’m so happy for the two of you—as we all are—and I’m thrilled to be a part of what God’s doing in your lives today.
I’ve been reading 1 Peter in the morning lately, trying to read slowly through it and piece together the way Peter thinks about things. He often seems to join two ideas together that don’t really seem to go together—at least in my mind. But I’d rather think like Peter than think like me, so I’m trying to understand how he thinks.
Here’s an example: In 1 Peter 1:22-25 he writes, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
The word “since” (at the beginning of verse 23) is an really interesting conjunction to me. And you two have been around The Fusion Community long enough that you know how much I love conjunctions. (It’s actually a participle in Greek, but this is a wedding sermon, so we can fudge it a little bit.)
He says, “Love one another earnestly, from a pure heart, since (or “because”—“as a result of the fact that”) you have been born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. So, here’s the connection he’s making: He’s saying that somehow loving other people earnestly and loving other people from a pure heart—loving well—is a result of being born again through the living and abiding word of God, by which he means the gospel; the good news that Jesus died to rescue everyone who gives their life fully to him.
So, here’s where I’m trying to figure out how Peter thinks: What does loving well—especially in a marriage—have to do with being born again from the imperishable seed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Here’s what I think he might be getting at: I think he’s saying that those who are reborn of God’s seed will have God’s character. But even more than that: They will have God’s nature. And God’s nature is love. Love isn’t just something that God does, it’s something that God is. He’s never not love. Even when he brings difficult things to us, He is love. Even when he’s punishing sin, He is love. Even when he’s pouring out wrath on those who reject Christ, He is love. He’s never not love.
So, on that one hand, that’s the difference between us and Him. We’re not always love. But at the same time we should desire that this be the resemblance between us and Him if we’ve been reborn of his seed through Christ. This should be what we want: to be love. We shouldn’t just want to love, but we should want to be love. And there’s no more important place for that to happen than in a marriage.
So, my hope for you two, friends, isn’t just that you would love one another. Everyone who gets married pledges to love one another, and what they mean by “love” is usually foggy; it’s sentimental; it’s sort of a ‘romantic comedy’ kind of love. My hope for you two, since you have been born of God, is that you would be love to one another. Being love in the way that God is love means that you don’t take “time off” from love when you don’t feel like being loving. God doesn’t do cold shoulders. He doesn’t do the silent treatment. He doesn’t do selfishness. He doesn’t do withholding. He doesn’t do cruel words. Because he never stops being love.
And, of course, we know none of us are going to be love perfectly. But my hope is that we are able to be love in our marriages in such a consistent way that when we’re not love it is an accident. It’s a mistake. It’s an oddity. It wasn’t planned. We didn’t premeditate being unloving toward the another person. My hope for you two is that you imitate God toward each other well enough and consistently enough that you sense love around each other. That you feel it. That you see each other after a long day, and the sense that you get isn’t “Uuuh—now I have to deal with this.” But rather that you walk in the door and see the other person and know that what you are about to experience is love.
And the way that will happen is by staying rooted in The One Who Is Love together. By clinging to Christ together. By embracing the gospel of Christ crucified in your place, for your sins, bearing your curse, paying your ransom, dying your death, conquering your enemy, securing your life, exemplifying love together.
So, Father, this is our prayer for Jesse and April. That because you have caused them to be born again—into your own character; into your own nature—that they would be love to one another. Bring them joy and peace. Make their home warm with affection; sturdy with truth; open with compassion and hospitality; alive with laughter; and strong with Christ at the center. Amen.