Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Weddings, Groomsmen, and the Gospel

This past weekend, I had the honor of being the best man at two of my best friends' wedding. It was truly a privilege to be able to stand beside my good buddy Michael and be present for his marriage to my good friend, AmberLynn.
Photo credit to Terra Stopher

I'll be honest.

We looked good. Vera Wang makes a dapper looking man.

The ceremony and reception were both held on Mount Charleston at the resort, and it was gorgeous. Even powerful gusts of wind and a wandering ring-bearer could not ruin a day that perfect.

Both Michael and AmberLynn were both ecstatic and so happy all day at a wedding that ran late into the night with dancing and laughter.

Good times.

And of course I was taking notes for my own wedding. That is coming up pretty quickly.

Well.. like a year, but still.

One May wedding down, two to go. On May 26th, I have a wedding in Phoenix, Arizona for another two beloved friends of mine, Paul and Marie, whom for which I have been asked to be a groomsman. Later that week, in Indiana, I have a wedding on the 31st for my close friends, Chuck and Abbey who asked me to officiate their wedding.

I've never officiated a wedding before, so that should be a very exciting day for all of us.

Despite all the tuxes and planning and craziness, I love weddings. A wedding is a sacred ceremony binding a man and a woman together in a holy covenant that will last a lifetime. The relationship a man has with his wife is the highest form of human relationship.

A few months ago, I read a book that was informative and frustratingly correct in so many ways. The book was called Sex, Dating, and Relationships by Gerald Heistand and Jay Thomas. I don't want to go too much into the book, suffice to say that it was eye opening, convicting, and correct in ways that made me sigh deeply and groan while sitting in Starbucks. The baristas thought there was something wrong with me.


The authors refer to the Apostle Paul's description of the model for marriage in Ephesians 5, saying;

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their 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 Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 
                                                                                 (Ephesians 5:25-32)

Heistand and Thomas go on to explain that the "profound mystery" is not a biblical conundrum without answers to be pondered and thrown away. To the contrary! According to the authors, the answer to the mystery lies within the same verse that states, "it refers to Christ and the church." Paul is saying that the model of a Godly husband is Jesus Christ, whose entire life was dedicated to growing and blessing and protecting the church, even to the point of painful death.

In that way, marriage is a beautiful illustration of the gospel. To be married is to proclaim the gospel.

Multiple times in scripture, the church is referred to as the bride of Christ, and He is the groom. When the church finally is united with Christ in heaven, we will forever be His treasure and love, cherished in purity and eternal love.

Kinda rad, right?

One man in the bible who understood the metaphor as well as the role of a groomsman was the revolutionary and famed John the Baptist.

In the beginning of Jesus' ministry, He began gathering thousands of followers, many of whom were former disciples of Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist. 

One day, a conversation arose between some of John's followers over Jesus, saying that Jesus was stealing John's followers and growing more famous than John. John responds.

"The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease."

   (John 3:29-30)

John understands that the Christ is the groom and the church is His bride. John understands that being a minister of the gospel, a follower of Christ, puts him in the role of the groom's friend, a supporter and helper of the wedding, one whom is dedicated to seeing the bride and groom be unified in love and rejoices in that union. John the Baptist is the best man in Jesus' wedding to the Church.
Photo credit to Abbey Torkelson

And he finishes the illustration with a phrase that would change ministry forever: "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Looking back, the day of Michael and AmberLynn's wedding was not to magnify how snazzily dapper I looked in an $800 tuxedo. I was there to support and help the unification of Michael to his beautiful bride. I was there to help promote the gospel.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Dunn.

Nate T B