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The Christadelphian | July 2012

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial Sitting
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning “The one sheep straying” | L. G. Sargent
  • The message to the seven churches 7 – To Philadelphia | James Andrews
  • Advancing years: reflections | Islwyn T. Rees
  • The character of God 5 – Everlasting | Mark Buckler
  • “Sing forth the honour of His Name” Ten years of worship from the 2002 hymn book | John Botten
  • “Who shall deliver me …?” | Geoff Henstock
  • Questions Jesus asks “Where are the nine?” | Paul Aston
  • Upside down: God first | Lynn Perry
  • Signs of the times A turning point in Egypt?
  • Israel and their land Bringing life to the Dead Sea
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Upside down: God first

WE have a real challenge in today’s society to find a partner with which to spend the rest of our lives. Things have changed. There is no real stigma about divorce. Sleeping together before marriage is now considered the norm. Statistics show that divorce is most often terribly hard on children and sleeping together does not improve the chances for a lasting commitment.

We can always find exceptions to the rule and justify whatever behaviour we want to justify. But what really matters? Whose rules do we want to follow? Most of us dislike the word ‘rules’ because it implies restriction and lack of freedom.

God’s commands

But God says differently. He gives us rules or commandments to make us happy and to give Him glory, not to restrict our freedom. The Psalmist says:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11; see also 119:97-104)

There are so many verses to prove that God wants to meet our needs and give us the ability to be free. If one wants a list, just ask a spiritually strong person.

We have to make loving Him and our Lord Jesus the first priority in our lives. We must work hard to trust Him, despite the pull of our natural hearts to do things our own way, imagining we can succeed. Once we are totally in love with God, we will trust Him and accept that His rules are not restrictive – holding us back from being happy – but rather the opposite.

This is the challenge: loving God will bring us happiness, now and forever (see, for example, Psalm 37:3,11,18,22-29), but it is not easy when bad things happen and we feel we cannot wait any longer for something better. It is not easy when we see people who reject God’s way apparently having a better time than we do. The Psalms have a lot to say about that topic (for example, Psalm 37:1,2,7; 73:1-14; 112:5-10).

Dating and marriage

What are God’s commandments? Amongst other things, it is clear He did not want His people looking outside the faith to find a partner for life. Abraham and his instructions to his servant regarding finding a spouse for his son Isaac make that abundantly clear (Genesis 24:1-9,34-38). Dating only inside the Truth is not just the ideal; it is essential for God to bring us all the happiness He wants us to have, and to show Him and others that we put Him first.

We often look at things upside down. Perhaps we think that meeting our needs and feeling good is most important, but the scriptures encourage us not to worry about that because if we do what is right God will meet our needs, not just temporarily, but for the long term.

‘Upside down’ is the way to describe what God has told us about marriage and what we think we know about marriage. Ask the average person why we get married, and they will say to love and be loved, to have children if you want them, and to be able to share your life with someone you like. God says He wants all these things, but they are not at the top of the beautiful globe of life that He gives us. Think of a snow globe, the kind that if turned upside down brings the inside alive with delicate white flakes filling the scene and making it beautiful. If we never turned it upside down, we would never see the wonders.

The wonder of God’s plan is that He determined to send His Son and give us the greatest gifts of all from the very beginning. A man and a woman are to cleave for life to show Christ’s love for us and ours for him:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let his wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-33, NKJV)

For this reason”: it was first in His plan. The great mystery of Christ’s love for us, and of course God’s love for us in sending His Son, is to be played out in a relationship. That relationship is called marriage. God created it. Christ came first; he was on the top and not on the bottom. We need to turn things upside down to see it.

The importance of faith

Let us always keep God and His love for us and our love for Him at the top of our lives. The only way we shall see His love is if we allow Him to act in our lives. If we go our own way, we shall never really appreciate that God gives us all things. We must have faith to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is trust in the proven past and in the certainty that God will fulfil His promises for the future. Faith is believing when it is hard, when things seem impossible (John 20:29; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1-40).

Here lies the path to true happiness – the kind that lasts, not just that glows for a while and then is snuffed out. Turn things upside down and see the beauty of the Creator’s plan and how it fills the globe and covers every scene with wonder. Turn the wisdom of this world upside down and put God on the top (Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 3:18-23). He will give you the desires of your heart.

lynn perry

 

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