Married couples can learn two important lessons from a bachelor who lived a few thousand years ago: avoiding self-focus and bringing glory to Jesus.
Can we learn anything from a bachelor who lived in the wilderness 2,000 years ago?
It seems implausible that a man who dressed in clothes made out of camel’s hair, ate locusts, and lived as a bachelor in the wilderness would have much to teach us about marriage. And yet the life vision of this man provides two central lessons valuable to every married couple today.
The bachelor, of course, is John the Baptist. His life vision was simply this: to exalt Jesus Christ in all of life. It’s a vision that wives and husbands sorely need in the 21stcentury.
First Lesson: Avoid Self-Focus
The first lesson we learn from John’s vision is how crucial it is to avoid self-focus.
Many problems in a typical marriage relationship are rooted in selfish human nature where it’s all about ‘me, myself and I’ and the possessive pronouns, ‘my’ and ‘mine.’
That is to say, I am so focused on my needs, my wants, my preferences, and my point of view, that the relationship is primarily about me. It’s easy to stop serving and truly loving our spouse when we become the most important person in the room.
We live in a world where 80 million photos are uploaded to Instagram daily and 20% of the entire human population has a Facebook account. It is no wonder we are easily self-focused and bring this into our relationships.
John the Bachelor had no such illusions about himself for this reason: he knew the greatness of Jesus.
When you know how great Jesus is, you cannot think too highly of yourself.
For example, John compared himself to Jesus in this way: “…among you stands One you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:26b-27).
Consider that carefully: John thought so highly of Jesus that he considered himself unworthy to stoop down in the dirt and untie the sandal on Jesus’ foot.
Do we think that highly of Jesus?
Is our vision so engulfed by His greatness and glory that we would consider it too high an honor to stoop before Him in the dirt and unloose His sandal?
If so, how would that affect our marriage? Can those who have a clear grasp of Jesus’ greatness be self-focused people?
Not likely. After all, next to Jesus they realize that they are not great and that the world does not revolve around them. They are not self-focused because their vision is engulfed by the greatness and glory of Another.
Second Lesson: Bring Glory to Jesus
This leads us to the second thing we learn from John’s life vision: marriage is an opportunity to bring glory to Jesus.
The Christian life is about Jesus, not us. When we understand this, then every avenue of life – including marriage – is one in which we seek to bring glory to Jesus, not ourselves.
John the Baptist fully understood this. On one occasion his disciples came to him with a concern: “Rabbi,” they said, “everyone is beginning to follow Jesus instead of you!”
John was not worried by this news at all. In fact, he went on to give an illustration which could be paraphrased as follows: “Look,” John said, “I am like the best man in a wedding. The wedding is not about the best man; the wedding is about the bride and groom. Jesusis the groom; I’m just the best man. He must increase, but I must decrease” (see John 3:29-30).
Or, as John said elsewhere: “I am not the Christ!” (John 1:20). John viewed his life as having one goal: bringing glory to Jesus.
What will happen if we stop viewing our marriages as a means of self-fulfillment, and look at them instead as a means by which we can bring glory to Jesus?
On the one hand my approach to my spouse will be one of humility, service, and love. Why? Because I am seeking to bring honor and glory to Jesus by reflecting His love to my spouse.
After all, it’s not about me; it’s about Jesus. I am not the Christ.
On the other hand it will mean that Christian couples will seek together to have a life that models the love of Jesus to the watching world. Why? Because we are seeking to bring honor and glory to Jesus with our marriage.
This is the first purpose for marriage found in the Two Becoming One marriage resource. After all, it’s not about us; it’s about Jesus.
Marriage is Not an End in Itself
We make a great mistake if we view marriage as an end in itself. Marriage is indeed God’s blessing to mankind and is meant to be a blessing to us.
But marriage has always been intended as a vehicle for individuals to show the love of God to one another and for couples to reflect the glory of God to the watching world.
Marriage is not simply a means of self-fulfillment: it is a means to bring glory to the triune God.
May we know full well, then, that we are not the Christ!
And may we couple this knowledge with a vision of Jesus that is so great, so grand, and so glorious that our focus in life and in marriage is not upon ourselves, but upon bringing glory to this One who is worthy of all praise.