The Holy One
March 23, 2008
I was thinking the other day; do you know what my biggest problem in life is? Can we get a close up of that? [Ed has a sticker on his head that reads: Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed.] That is my biggest problem in my life, getting over me. How many would agree with that? Yes. Let me see if I can rip this off. Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed.
Speaking of Ed, June 26, 1982, Lisa and I were joined together in holy matrimony. It was awesome. Now look at that photo for a second, that very embarrassing, cheesy photo. [Several photos of Ed and Lisa’s wedding are shown on the side screen.] Only in the 80’s would some photography studio think about superimposing the bride and the groom as they look down upon the wedding. That’s deep, isn’t it? Look at that hair. Anyway. Let’s go to the next one. There we are leaving the church. That was a happy moment. We recited these lofty vows and I was thinking just to be frank with you, “Honeymoon in Hawaii!” That’s what I’m thinking right now. Okay, the next slide. That’s the reception; you are bombarded by people, and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. That’s okay. Weddings are fine, they’re dandy, and they’re good.
Weddings, though, represent a covenant, don’t they? They represent something that is holy, something that is pure and something that is amazing.
Well, after Lisa and I honeymooned, we came back and rented a small place in Houston, which is where we lived at the time. And very quickly, very rapidly, romance segued into reality. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Reality. There were bills to pay. We were both in school. There were the stresses and the pressures of working and also being married.
And some of you right now are thinking, “Wait a minute. You mean the romance ended that quickly? I’m going to be different. When I get married it is going to be romance 24/7. It is going to be love, love, love, love, love.”
Well, you just get married for a couple of weeks and watch the romance erode. It happens like that. It just happens. And all the married people are thinking, “Ed I feel you man. You’re right on target.”
Marriage is not the easiest thing; it’s the hardest thing. It’s challenging to be married. But I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. It’s worth the work.
Now, about now some of you are saying, “Ed, did you show up at the wrong time and place? This is Easter weekend. We’re celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every song we’ve done has been about the resurrection; the video, the resurrection; the paintings were about the resurrection; the drama, it’s about the resurrection. The resurrection and marriage? There’s, like, a disconnect. It doesn’t make sense. Where is the common thread?”
Easter is about marriage; marriage is about Easter. You’ve got the gospel, Jesus loving us, Jesus romancing us and wooing us and drawing us to himself. Some of us here realize it; others don’t. You’ve been brought here; you’ve been sought by the living Lord. He has put it all on the line. He loves you. You matter to him. He loves you and he loves me unconditionally. He loves you and he loves me in spite of ourselves. And he loved us so much that he died on the cross for our sins and rose again.
Now, when I say that—the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus—some of you who have been around the church before know what I’m talking about. You think I just described the gospel. You’re right. But I only described part of the gospel. The resurrection was the completion of the gospel process. The gospel process, yes, is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Also, though, we have to realize the reason for the resurrection. Why, I ask you, did Jesus rise again? That’s a pretty good question. Why did the Son of God conquer death? The reason he was able to conquer death was the simple fact that Jesus lived a perfect life. He was holy. He was pure. The word holiness means to be set apart. He was 100 percent righteous. So when I come to a point in my life where I say I do to Jesus, what happens? I receive Him into my life and his righteousness and his holiness is imputed into my very existence. So when God sees me, God sees Jesus. He sees the righteousness of Christ. He sees the holiness of Christ. And that can only be secured and is only secured by the resurrection of our Lord. But when you talk about the gospel, don’t forget to talk about the fact that Jesus was holy. That’s this marriage from heaven to earth.
Well, Jesus knows, because he’s omniscient that we’re going to have this desire to have relations on earth. I have a desire and you have a desire for relationships and that’s awesome. That’s good. We have a desire to get married.
I would dare say that everyone in this room is either preparing for marriage, you’re processing marriage or you’re trying to get over a marriage where you’ve been betrayed or maybe hurt or abused or messed around.
Marriage, I’m talking about this relationship between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, is the only human relationship that’s analogous to Christ’s relationship to his church. Read about it in the Old Testament. Read about it in the New Testament. God is always comparing his love for his people, and we are his people, to this earthly connection that we have with a man and a woman.
T.S. I ask you, what if marriage was not primarily for your happiness? What if marriage was for your holiness? Man, would that blow up all the preconceived notions and all of our cultural crap that people give us day in and day out about marriage?
Haven’t you noticed that people these days are obsessed with romance? A lot of people are obsessed with sex. Why?
Genesis 2:24. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
Hey twenty‑somethings still living at home—leave! Spouses stay; kids leave. Okay, I just wanted to emphasize that.
This oneness, isn’t it interesting? Everywhere you turn in Scripture you have this oneness. Think about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. That’s the Trinity. Three in one; one in three. You have this oneness within the nature and the character of God.
Well, this verse tells me and it tells you when we get married, two become one. One plus one equals one. That’s God’s math. One plus one equals one. So now God looks at Lisa and me as one. And man, that will mess you up.
So again, I just suggest to you on this Easter weekend, what if marriage was more for our holiness than our happiness? Wow! Because we need to become one, right? That becoming part is tough. We’re to become one flesh. A lot of people are obsessed with romance and sex because of oneness. Yet you’re here right now and you’re far away from God. You don’t know Christ personally and you’re jumping from bed to bed, from relationship to relationship.
Why are you doing it?
“I am just a red blooded American. I am just a liberated woman.”
No, you’re not. You’re desperately seeking God. And the closest you can get to God is being joined together with another person. It’s your search, it’s your desire and it’s your passion for oneness, to be united with the God of universe. The good news of Easter is the fact that Jesus has done the work. He has put the cards on the table. He sacrificed he suffered. His death, burial and resurrection are out there and all we have to do is say I do to Jesus. That’s it.
When I said I do 25 years ago I didn’t realize what those words meant. As I said, four kids and 25 years of marriage later, I am still realizing the implications of that decision. And the same is true in the Christian life.
When I said I do to Jesus years ago I didn’t realize where God would take me. I had no idea. And I have not always been happy in my marriage. I have not always been happy in my walk with Jesus.
People say, “Ed, are you saying you’re not happily married?”
Well, Lisa and I have moments of happiness, but we’re not happily married, 24/7. That’s totally unrealistic.
Let’s talk for a second. This series is not going to be five ways, five simple steps to have a simple and happy marriage. That’s okay, but that’s superficial at best. This series is much deeper than that. I want to get to the meaning of marriage because the resurrection, the gospel is about the ultimate marriage and the ultimate marriage is about the resurrection.
Now, I’m not implying that happiness and holiness are exclusive. They’re not. Because when we discover the holiness of God; when we live out the holiness of God; when we live out this set apart life, this blessed life, are we going to be happy? You better believe it! But we’re not going to be happy 24/7. It’s not going to happen. So Lisa and I are not happily married. We’re holy married, but not happily married. And that’s very, very important.
So for marriage to work, a death, burial and resurrection has to take place. It took place to secure our salvation. It took place with this new covenant. What’s a covenant?
A blood bond of life and death. Death, burial and resurrection must occur in your marriage and mine for it to go to a holy ‘notha level.
So I have to die to Ed, Ed, Ed and more Ed. I have to bury Ed, Ed, Ed and more Ed. As I die to myself; as that junk and funk are buried, then this resurrection can take place in my marriage, in the only institution that is analogous to Christ’s relationship to his people.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Ephesians 1:19‑20. The Scriptures say, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.”
That’s the same power, are you ready for this, that was demonstrated when Christ was raised from the dead!
The same power that brought Jesus back from the grave is on tap for your marriage and mine, for your dating relationship and others here, for your career and mine, for your recreational pursuits and mine, for your thought processes and mine. And that is the good news of Easter.
So we desperately need application on what marriage is so we can have information on what marriage does. So I’m going to challenge you over the next several weeks to get involved in this holiness process, this process of looking at marriage not with the mindset of, “What I can gain or what makes me look good or feel good or gives me freedom.” No. I want you to begin to look at marriage like Jesus looked at your life and mine—selflessly, sacrificially, and others-driven. The gospel—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus—needs to play out in this venue called marriage. So in marriage we need to reflect the nature and the character of God. The gospel needs to be reflected, it needs to be reflected.
ILLUS: I was on the island of Anguilla over the last several days. I had an opportunity to speak down there. A very generous woman flew my family and me down to this beautiful island and we had a wonderful time there. She put us up in her villa in Anguilla. I’m going to tell you something this villa was amazing! It had a 360‑degree perspective of the entire island. You could see the Caribbean on one side and the Atlantic on the other. It was just a great, great experience.
While I was in this villa in Anguilla looking around at just the gorgeous view of God’s creation, I was thinking about marriage. I was thinking about the perspective that Lisa and I and our family had in this beautiful structure. We could just see like we’ve never seen before.
I believe in this series as we begin to live the gospel out, as we see that marriage is not just for happiness it’s for our holiness, I believe that God will give us a 360‑degree view of this beautiful relationship that will take us to this holy ‘notha level.
So our marriage is reflective of the grace and the mercy of God. But notice this: in marriage, the gospel should be the main thing. Also in marriage, I believe the gospel must be perfected in your life and mine. It must be perfected in our lives. In other words, that’s where maturity happens. That’s where growth happens. That’s where character is really built.
Sometimes people ask me, “What type of love is marriage built on?” That’s a good question. There are several types of love mentioned in Scripture. There’s Eros love. We get the word erotic from it. That’s the passionate love; that’s the sexual love; that’s the chemistry. You have to have that in a relationship. You’ve got to have that pop that wow. You have to have it.
There’s also Phileo love. The city of brotherly love is Philadelphia. That’s where you get this whole thing from. Phileo is the friendship thing, this recreational companionship, and this ability to talk and just really click with your spouse. You’ve got to have that.
Another type of love mentioned is the Agape love. The agape love is the irrational, unconditional love. It’s the covenant love.
You show me a marriage that’s built on erotic love and I will show you a marriage that will maybe last 24 months. Then you have to get another one and another one and another one. Eros quickly erodes. You have to have it, but you can’t build upon it. Eros doesn’t stretch; it just breaks and blows up.
Phileo love is love you have to have. I mean you have to have those times that you connect and talk, the friendship factor.
Agape love, though, again, is the main love we’ve got to have in our marriages. That’s this unconditional stuff. That is thinking about the other person. That is the death, burial and resurrection type love. That’s the love that only comes through Jesus Christ.
Some of you right now are having problems in your marriage. I will tell you this right now; no matter how difficult your problems are generally speaking, if you stay with agape love, if you focus on meeting the other persons needs, as you focus first of all on the gospel of Jesus Christ, one day you’ll look back and the legacy that you will leave will dominate the little passing problems that seem so huge right now. Because whenever you have a divorce, you usually have one party who’s forgotten to put the gospel as the number one priority in their lives. That is usually what happens if you want to get down to the nuts and bolts of the deal.
So that’s why when it comes to spiritual maturity it is all about marriage. It is all about the reflective nature of marriage as it mirrors God’s relationship to his people. I mean, what’s the most spiritually mature thing to do? To get up at 4:00 a.m. and pray for an hour and study the Scriptures? Or when the baby has a dirty diaper at 4:00 a.m. you get up and change the dirty diaper? Wow!
I mean, let’s go ahead and get real for a second here. Let’s quit playing church and playing around with “I just want to be happily married and I want to be romantic 24/7.” So many people are obsessed with romance these days.
Guys, have you ever been to one of these romantic comedies before? Come on, because the woman is the one who makes the decision over what movie you see anyway. I hope you know that. If you’re smart you better follow her, guys.
What’s this cat’s name, this brother, Matthew McConaughey? “All right, all right, all right.” Matthew is always taking his shirt off, isn’t he? I mean, any time. “All right, all right, all right.” I read the other day Matthew makes like $4 or $5 million more per movie when he takes his shirt off. Is that classic?
What happens in romantic comedies? Two impossibly beautiful people meet in strange circumstances, they have a fight, the girl leaves and the guy spends the rest of the movie chasing her down. And then they live, are you ready for this, happily ever after.
There’s that happy stuff again. Now, I’m a happy guy. But my happiness comes from holiness. Because when I look at Lisa I see my best and I see my worst. When she looks at me she sees her best and she sees her worst. So if you are bold enough and big enough and bad enough if you have enough estrogen and testosterone, step up, step out and get honest with God and honest with each other and to say, “Baby, we are in this together. We’re not about being happy; we’re about being holy. We’re about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.” Because people are looking at you and they’re looking at me and they’re dying to see Jesus.
1 Peter 1:15‑16. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
I mean, that says it. The holiness of God. And we’ll explain this more and more over the ensuing weeks. So the gospel should be reflected in my marriage; it should be perfected as I live my life, as God models me and shapes me and uses me within the context and venue of marriage.
But also notice this. The gospel should be protected in marriage. That’s covenant. What’s covenant? Agape love. What’s covenant? A blood bond of life and death. What’s covenant? Jesus died, was buried and was rose again. That’s the new covenant.
And marriage is the covenant within the covenant. So within this covenant I have protection. People say, “Well I want to be free. I want to be free. I want to be totally free.”
We want freedom, don’t we? Everyone is talking about freedom. What is freedom? What is freedom? Is it ultimate freedom? No. Ultimate freedom is chaos. True freedom is God-driven freedom.
ILLUS: Back to Anguilla. I spoke there this past Tuesday night at a rally. Tuesday morning we went out snorkeling in this beautiful body of water. We were on the Caribbean side. And we were out there in this little boat and the kids were with Lisa and me and we’re looking around. The water is really clear and we see all these fish and all this stuff and then… (Ed begins the “Jaws” theme song). You’re always thinking that and so am I. Whenever you go swimming in a place like that, we’re thinking about the shark.
And so I asked this guy leading the snorkel expedition, “Excuse me, are there any sharks in the area?”
He said, “No, man! See the reef right there? The sharks are on the other side of the reef, so we can be free to swim on this side of the reef.”
And I just dove in then. We had a great time snorkeling, looking at these beautiful eagle rays and all the different fish and the eels and all sorts of things. I just love the ocean and love snorkeling.
We were free. Why? Because we were inside the reef. We were totally free because we were inside the guidelines and the guard rails this guy had set up for us to snorkel.
When it comes to marriage God has set up a reef. He has built a reef and he said, “Be free in marriage. Have Eros love, have Phileo love and have agape love. You’re free because of this covenant, this thing that I’ve done for you. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Have you responded to it? Have you said I do to it? If you’re married are you mirroring that in your relationship?
ILLUS: One more story from Anguilla. Two days ago I was with this woman who brought us down there and she walked up to a guy, a very successful man in this island, and she said, “I want you to meet Ed Young and his family. Ed is a pastor of a church called Fellowship.”
And this guy goes, “Man that is a bunch of bull (bleep!)”
Those were the first words out of this guy’s mouth. I thought about walking up to him and beating the fool out of him. That’s what I thought about when I heard him say that. I really did. That was my first knee jerk reaction. It wasn’t, “Okay I’m going to pray for him right now.” It wasn’t that.
But quickly the Holy Spirit spoke to me, calmed me down, and I started feeling sorry for this guy. Because here is a guy who has totally rejected the love and grace of God. Here is a guy who’s totally turned his back on the things of God. And I knew that I was only going to have just a short window to be with him. And so I walked up to him and engaged him in conversation and tried to be as Christ-like as possible. But that guy is facing a Christ less eternity. Who knows? That guy might not ever have another chance to bow the knee to Christ. I don’t know. God does, but I don’t.
Are you like that guy? Could you have been drug here by maybe a family member or a friend? And when someone invited you to Fellowship Church did you say, or maybe think, “That’s bull (bleep)!”
I don’t know. But I have good news for you. Even though you’ve thought that, even though you’ve said that, even though you’ve turned your back from God, he has sought you and romanced you and bought you and paid the ultimate price for you by sending his Son to do the work on Calvary. And because of his holiness he rose again. So if you want to know what life is all about; if you want to know what the ultimate marriage is all about, say I do to Jesus, because the implications are unbelievable and eternal.