GOD THE MATCHMAKER
(c) Copyright 2003 Rev. Bill Versteeg
One day, a sailor met another sailor who had turned pirate. The sailor was shocked at how the one time sailor turned pirate had changed. The pirate had a wooden leg, a hook arm, a patch over his eye, a totally bald head and a women holding his arm. As they were swapping sea faring stories, the sailor said to the pirate "Man have you changed, how did this come about?"
"We were in a big storm, a rouge wave washed me overboard, and just as my men were pulling me back into the boat, a shark bit off my leg."
"Wow" said the sailor, "and your hook arm?"
"We were taking over a ship, and were all in a sword fight and a sword caught my arm and now its gone."
"And your eye? - How did you lose your eye?"
"You lost your eye to a bug?"
"Ya - just a small one"
"How could a small bug take your eye?"
"Oh, it was the first week I had the hook!"
"And your hair, how did you loose that beautiful shiny long black hair?"
"I got married... but guess what - even though I have changed so much - she still loves me!"
This joke encapsulates one of the key points of the theme we are looking at this morning, turn with me to
Genesis 2:15-25 (NIV)
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man."
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
"Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me
(I just knew that if I sang a few bars - I would have your attention)
There is something wonderfully scripture about those words from the movie Fiddler on the Roof. They call God a matchmaker! And that is the foundational theme of this mornings message. The reason I am preaching this theme this morning is to encourage. Last Sunday we looked at God's way of building a love relationship, climbing the ladder the right direction, starting at spiritual unity, then dealing with emotional and relational unity and finally capping the relationship in the covenant commitments of marriage and physical unity. After the message though, I felt that I had missed the many young adults among us who desire a Christian spouse and have not met their match yet.
Hear the truth of the word of God! God is a matchmaker! Listen again to these scriptures. God realizing that "It is not good for the man to be alone. set out to make a helper (one who comes along side) suitable for him." Adam checked out all the animals, yet no match was found, so God made a suitable companion out of Adam's rib. Way back in Genesis the Divine Matchmaker made the first match possible. Commentators rightly suggest that this Genesis passage points to the creational design of marriage, marriage is right for us, it is how we are completed, create families, find blessing as individuals in giving to each other. But often commentators reduce it to these themes. I think they miss the wonderful message of the passage - God is a matchmaker.
Turn with me now to Mark 10:6 - 9
6 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'
7 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Jesus says "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." When we hear that, we usually focus on the "let man not separate" part. Jesus, however, tells us that finding for us a spouse is God's work, it is he who joins two people, it is the divine God of the cosmos who brings to souls together. And for that reason, the marriage covenant ought to be honored among us, not only because of faithfulness to our commitments, but because bringing two people to fall in love with each other is God's work!
This in contrast to cultural and Christian distortions of love and romance. This morning I will mention the two basic distortions that I see of which there are many variations.
First, our culture's distortion of what brings people fall to in love so that they ought to be joined together. Our culture says the match is made by phermones and chemistry. Matching person to person is a biological function that can come and go, and so if it goes, if the chemistry runs dry, if the emotions disappear, then the match is no longer. We live in a culture that says "divorce for reasons of incompatibility" when the love runs dry, when the difficulties get to great - call it "irreconcilable differences" - because they never saw God at work in the first place. In our culture, we often do not see any difficulty with breaking our commitments if the love is gone. Since chemistry is the matchmaker, when chemistry phizzels, start a new reaction!
The second distortion is what I would call the north American Evangelical Romantic distortion. The wonderful truth about this distortion is that it acknowledges that God is divinely invested in whom we marry, he is the matchmaker! But then this theme is combined with romantic notions that if God does the matchmaking, then the match will feel perfect and look perfect. If God makes the match, then marriage will be endless bliss, then marriage will be darn near flawless, after all, God a perfect God, made the match. The danger of this perspective is that, if marriage is not perfect, if my relationship with my spouse runs into trouble and the pain of relationship overwhelms me, the natural conclusion of this distortion is that God did not put us together - (maybe Satan did,) and so if God did not put us together, then there should be no problem for a Christian to break apart what God did not put together in the first place. Somehow under this second distortion, evangelicals have been divorcing at ever increasing rates. And we need to hear all over the words of Jesus "What God has joined together, let man not separate." God is the match maker - he puts two people together. God hates it when we break what he has built.
So based on this mornings theme, the very first practical application for everyone here who has a spouse, and these are the words of Jesus for you: "God put you together!"
Now I suspect that throughout the congregation there are in quiet hearts real profound questions and maybe painful challenges to that statement. For some of us, it may be hard to see through the pain of our marriage how God put us together. God puts painful marriages together too! Sometimes a match made in heaven feels like hell! In every one of our marriages there have been times of pain, and sometimes long periods of pain. God still put us together. To demonstrate the point that God puts together painful marriages, think of Adam and Eve. Scripture calls them a couple suited for each other, and if they were a couple suited for each other, we would anticipate no major marital difficulties in their relationship. Or was there? Well, we have evidence that Adam had a tendency to blame Eve for their difficulties: "she took from the tree and gave it to me" Its all Eve's fault! But we also know that Cain killed Abel, an 'in-family' murder. The picture makes me wonder how much Cain learned from Adam,. Where did that way of handling rage come from? We have evidence that the first suitable match had a lot of difficulties!
I could go on. Did I mention Hosea and Gomer? This was God putting two people together, and we might use the excuse that the purpose of their marriage was the revelation of God's broken relationship with his unfaithful people. But according to Paul, our marriages relationships also reflect the relationship between God and his people, after all, Paul, when talking about husband and wife in Ephesians suddenly exclaims "I'm actually talking about Christ and the church." God even put Hosea and Gomer together.
Marriage is not for perfection! Marriage is a relationship in which forgiveness is exercised. If you have ever wondered how in the world a person could be expected to forgive 70 X 7 as Jesus instructs, just get married and you will know all to well what it means. Marriage is not for perfection! Marriage is for discovering grace and sanctification, it is for maturing, learning the importance of commitment and becoming like Christ, it is for the hard work of preparing us for heaven where we will be the bride of the lamb. Marriage is God's (sometimes very difficult) school for becoming like Christ. How many times have we seen a young man or young women's wild life come together because they got married?
God has put you together, therefore honor what God does. This is obedience. God hates it when we break what he put together. No matter how your relationship started, no matter how it is or isn't going today, God is the matchmaker who put you together. Honor what God has done. As a couple, face the pain of your marriage, get help in facing that pain, forgiving those you have to forgive, leaving the ghosts of your past. I want to encourage you, scripture tells us that God is able to turn ashes to beauty, he takes incredible pleasure in lifting us out of the mirey clay that we find ourselves in. Rescue is his business. Honor what God has done.
This morning, I want to talk to those among us who are not yet married too, because if God is the divine matchmaker, the true cupid, then it has very practical applications for those of us who are single too.
If there is a universal truth to finding God's match for us, it would be this "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you." If we set our hearts to serving God and his kingdom, we are the most likely to find another whose heart's desire is to serve God and his kingdom. It is among God's people, not in bars, that we find others of like mind and faith. It is in service that we find others who have similar passions for serving God. Seek first his kingdom, it is often in seeking God that we find others seeking God. If we want to build on a spiritual foundation, that is the place to start.
Second - play the field (meant in a healthy sense). Be a person who relates in healthy ways to a lot of people. After all, Adam went through all the animals before it became very clear that not one suited him. Play the field and understand that God's match might not seem perfect. In our romanticized culture, the perfect match has to do with beauty, personality, attractiveness. But beauty if fleeting. Personalities all have secrets, hidden qualities that come out after marriage has started. What is externally attractive might just be the dynamic that makes an intimate relationship unattractive. God's match for you might not be perfect, as the song says Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match - the truth of the song is that in marriage, God is at work to make ME a match for the one I have committed myself to.
One of the regrettable inheritances we have from the King James Version of the bible and the culture within which it is written is a consistently negative view of desire. Desires, like all other good things can become distorted. But when our heart is set on seeking the Lord, God, the matchmaker gives us desires - desires for another person, desires for marriage, desires for a family - and these desires are from God through the Holy Spirit. When two people desire each other, it is better to marry than to let desire go unfulfilled because desires within the parameters of God's will are from God.
Be encouraged - the divine matchmaker is at work in your life also.
This morning I conclude this message by reminding you of how deeply this matchmaking theme is close to the heart of God.
Scripture, the entire history of humanity, is a story of God matchmaking a bride for his son. With his grace, God works in us, calls us, moves us to faith, calls us to love God with heart soul and strength because that would be a fitting match for his Son, Jesus. And then scripture tells us that in order to win our hearts, God sent his son (that's the matchmaker at work) to give himself to us so that he might by his grace transform who we are into beauty - through the washing of the water and the word - prepared for himself.
And scripture ends with a wedding, God's matchmaking complete, the relationship between the bride and the groom healed, we will be one with Christ throughout all eternity. Today, we look forward to that day as we share the Lord's supper. God, the matchmaker, invites all of us who are thirsty, all who are hungry for him, all who hear his call and have responded by faith to come, drink from the well that will never run dry, eat of the true manna that gives life to the world.
6 Then I heard what
sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and
like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.