The following is a translation of an excerpt from a wedding sermon preached by Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Reformed Church in Chengdu. In it, he exhorts the couple to remember that they are not entering into this marriage alone, that God is going before them and with them.
I will go with you. Exodus 33: 14-15
You two are finally getting married. Those who know you know that today's wedding is a miracle. I hope that people can gradually learn more about this miracle and give all praise and glory to God and his only son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Every time I'm on the subway and in the airport in Hong Kong or the United States, I see on the escalators people standing on the right and people who walking on the left.
Sighing, I think, “Such a simple rule separates the impatient from the unhurried in a crowd; each according to its kind, living in peace.”
Yet, marriage is not so simple. These two both gave up their academic degrees, their occupations, and their urban lives to commit themselves as volunteers in the countryside for the common good. They took a path in life that most young people haven't taken, a path that most won't take.
But, as they turn to marriage there is still a tough question that they must ask: Lord, are you going with us?
An American psychologist wrote a book called, Obsessive Love [Chinese: A Disease Called Love]. She says that this disease is made up of a person's long-term and dependent obsession, control, and anger.
Why is our love ultimately made up of obsession, control, and anger? Because we try to construct our own identity and sense of security through another person in order to prove the core and value of our own existence. There is only one antidote for this disease, and that is faith. That is to ask God, are you going with us?
There are two kinds of people in the world. One type of person loves those who are close, but is cold towards those who are relationally distant. I call this kind of person a "shortsighted lover." When you can't love someone who is distant from you, then even the love you feel for the people who are close to you comes under suspicion. This is likely not love, but a disease. Obsession, control, and anger underlie deep personal relationships with other people.
Another kind of person loves those who are quite detached from themselves. He or she may be willing to invest in a stranger, but is rather cold toward those who are relationally close to him. I call this kind of person a "farsighted lover."
The first kind of person will see someone in the street being beaten within an inch of his life and will run away. The problem is that he or she is unable to love a neighbor; he or she is not the Good Samaritan.
The second kind of person will see someone in the street being beaten within an inch of his life and, being filled with indignation, will rush to help regardless of the consequences. But, in his or her own house when he sees a broom fall to the ground will not lift a finger. The problem is that he or she fears intimacy and is unable to love people who are too close. He or she may be a Good Samaritan, but usually isn’t a good family member.
Many people fall into the first category; in fact probably a majority of people. The latter are quite few, a rare breed. People in the latter category usually become volunteers, public servants, firefighters, and some become pastors, just like Moses. The Exodus was basically a large-scale public works project. What benefit was it to Moses? There was no benefit to Moses. He could not bear that the people of Israel lived in slavery and in alienation to God.
What I want to say is, today these two, the bride and groom, essentially belong to the latter group of people. In the eyes of the world the first kind of people are no good and the second kind are good. And it seems like the gospel is more necessary for the first kind of people.
For the first kind of people, their closest relationships give them the best estimation. More distant relationships give them the worst estimation.
On the other hand, for the second type of person, the more distant the relationship, the better the estimation. It is relationships with people closest to them that are more difficult.
In Maugham's novel "The Painted Veil," Dr. Fane at first glance seems more or less like another Norman Bethune. He and his wife hated and hurt each other. He was a man who was deathly silent in his life and in his marriage, yet traveled to China's remote mountain area monasteries to tirelessly assist unknown cholera patients. What kind of spirit is this, when behind this admirable work is resentment, and behind the sacrifice is detachment?
However, just one trace of Fane's bitterness was enough to destroy all his noble behavior. A person who is "good" in a moral sense can't earn salvation from God, nor can he win over the love of his wife.
"Immanuel" actually means, "The Lord is with us."
Moses asked the Lord for a sign and a promise of "Immanuel." He asked for a promise saying, "If I have found favor before you, please show me who you will send to go with us." He also asked for a sign saying, "How will the people know that I and your people have found favor in your sight?"
Today, these newlyweds also ask God for a sign and a promise of "Immanuel," otherwise they will not go. The sign for Moses was circumcision and the tabernacle. For Abraham, it was the ram that took the place of his only son Isaac.
For you, this sign is Jesus' shed blood on the cross. He himself said, "This cup is a new covenant I have established with you." Starting from today, every time you as a married couple come to the table of the Lord's Supper, please remember that the blood of God’s only begotten son made this covenant with you. He promised to go with you. He really is going with you.
Finally, I told you I would give you two words of encouragement:
First, something about leaving. Moses left behind the wilderness and 40 years of his life, to go into an unknown future. You have a similar challenge as the majority of young people today. That is, long before you got married you both had already left your parents and lived on your own for a long time. In fact, you haven't had much family life for many years. You've already grown accustomed to living as single adults. For both of you, family has become something strange and difficult. You long to live together as an intimate couple, but you fear you are severely unsuited for this kind of life together.
Second, something about unity. Whoever goes with you is actually joined with you. Remember, you both are the second kind of person. You are kind towards other people, better than the people around you. You left the most prosperous city in China for China's most remote villages.
Well, let me use a metaphor for you here. When your spouse is nice to you, please treat him/her like they are in Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. When your spouse treats you badly, treat him/her like they are in the countryside of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan.
You have to once again leave the "Beijing" of your marriage for the "countryside" of your marriage. You have already thrown away what the world views as difficult to give up. I have to say, for the two of you it's no big thing to throw away fame and fortune. But, throwing yourself away is the most difficult thing for you.
Use the blood of the Lord Jesus to cure your diseased love.
You two are like two cold, shivering hedgehogs. One says, "Let's hug, otherwise we'll get cold." The other says, "No, we can't hug each other because we will stick each other and puncture our bodies."
These two hedgehogs can only embrace each other if there is someone between them. How is it that you can embrace each other and feel the warmth? Because the quills of your body have instead pierced the body of Jesus. The Bible says, you pierced his hands, you pierced his feet. By his wounds you have been healed.
You have already found favor before him. What is different about Christian marriages from non-Christian marriages? It is that God's son goes with us. Therefore, each Christian marriage is a miracle.
”For behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone. Go with him.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land. Go with him.
The fig tree ripens its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance. “
Song of Solomon 2:12-13 (2: 11-13 ESV)
Brother H, Sister D, go together with the Lord!
Original Article: 婚礼证道 | 我必与你同去 (from the WeChat Account王怡的麦克风)
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Early Rain Reformed Church as Autumn Rain Church.
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