By: Jeff Supp

Have you ever noticed that the story of humanity starts and finishes with a wedding? In Genesis 2:24, God brings Eve to Adam and He calls them husband and wife. In Revelation 19:6 we read, “the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” The true church is the bride of Jesus. These two weddings have significant implications for our life on earth and our life in eternity. We are about to see that as powerful and profound as marriage is on earth, there is another human relationship that is even more fundamental for followers of Jesus and that is siblingship.

From the Garden of Eden and until the fulfillment of God’s plan, marriage and family are foundational structures for society. Consider that the only appropriate expression of sexual intimacy is found within marriage (Hebrew 13:4) and therefore, procreation was designed to be the fruit of marriage. No marriage, no babies! Yes, God forgives and even redeems
inappropriate unions that result in children. These precious children are blessings and used by God in great ways. This is the amazing grace of God! The Bible, sociology and human experience all tell us that a loving and healthy marriage is the foundation for a healthy and thriving family and that such families are the foundation for a healthy society.

Now this is no surprise, is it? The closer any society lives according to God’s original design the more that society will experience the blessings of God. It is that simple. And yet with the fall of Adam and Even in the garden (Genesis 3) marriages and families have been plagued with the challenges that sin inevitably brings. Just look around and you will see our own society moving further and further away from God’s design as a result of sin. The consequences are seen most powerfully in the breakdown of the family and in the confusion and distress of our children.

Well, that sounds rather hopeless! But wait, there is not only hope for YOUR marriage, but God has a mission for your marriage that brings hope to the watching world. Consider this; if you and your spouse are both disciples of Jesus, then you have the Holy Spirit within you, making you more like Jesus. And He is empowering you to love one another, live out the godly design for marriage and impact all the people the Lord has placed around you. Marriage has never been just about companionship, partnership and procreation. There has always been a godly mission.

Mission #1: Model a godly and thriving marriage for your children.
A thriving marriage is the greatest gift you can ever give your children, other than introducing them to faith in Jesus. I know that may be a scary thought and mildly overwhelming but what a privilege it is to show them the love, sacrifice, intimacy, joy and purpose that God has for us in a Christian marriage.

Mission #2: Tell the love story of Jesus and the church by how you love, serve and sacrifice for one another.
The most extensive chapter in the New Testament on marriage, Ephesians 5, is actually all about Jesus and his bride, the church. As husbands and wives fulfill their roles and live according to God’s design, both flourish in the marriage and point people to Jesus. Pause just for a moment to really think about that. God is giving every Christian couple the joy of experiencing their own love story and telling His love story. How can this become reality, you ask? Pursue your personal relationship with Jesus individually and as a couple. As you do, the Spirit makes you more like Jesus (He would be the best husband or wife), and He fuels things like love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, other- centeredness, sacrifice and other attributes that make for a thriving marriage and well told love story.

Mission #3: Bless others
Use your relationship, home, abilities and combined gifts to bless others. Who has God put around you? Your kid’s friends, neighbors, single adults, or people in the community, etc.
Your home could be a place of peace, joy, encouragement and so much more. You could bless neighbors by meeting needs, building a friendship, or watching their kids so they can date. Think about single adults whose families are not in the area or are not followers of Jesus, and what a blessing it would be to them if you included them in your family activities, invited them to dinner, and simply built a friendship.

Become a power couple... live out the missions of Jesus together!

So, if marriage is the foundational structure for society, is it for the church too? We see marriage used as a metaphor for the church, with Jesus as the groom and the church, the bride. And one of the great climactic moments in the future is the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6). If the believers in Jesus are part of the bride of Jesus, where does that leave our earthly spouse? Well, I know you might have said something like, “I will love you forever,” on your wedding day and you will in fact love each other for eternity but it won’t be as husband and wife. What!? Yep. In the new age there is no marriage. Check it out in Luke 20:27. Why? Well, because we are part of the church, His people and all together we are the bride of Jesus.

Therefore, I suggest that the more fundamental human relationship in the church and for eternity is spiritual siblings. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Through faith in Jesus, we all become children of God, and if children, then siblings (Romans 8:14-17, 8:28-29; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 2:11; 1 John 3:1-2).

The implications are rather significant. You are married to your sibling! Let that sink in for a moment. And everyone, everywhere in the world, who has faith in Jesus is a sister or brother. We are a family both in this world and for eternity. We may have conflict and struggle with spiritual siblings just as with biological ones but we also have the joy and blessing of having a great number of siblings that we are called to love and be loved by. Jesus provides an attribute by which the world could identify His disciples: love for one another (John 13:35). So as we cultivate siblingship with one another through selfless acts and sacrifice, mutual support and accountability, we find that our darkest moments aren’t so dark and our most joyous are all the more joy-filled. We receive and experience blessings from God, the family is built up, individual lives are transformed, and the world watches in amazement.

As men invest in relationships with one another, and women with women, couples with singles, couples with couples, older with younger, and in ways that are appropriate, men with women, no sibling is left alone to feel unloved or estranged from the family unless by their own doing. Most of the New Testament commands regarding how to relate to one another are in this sibling context. Consider the many “one another’s” of the New Testament. These are commands that reveal how we as siblings are to act toward one another. Love, forgive, serve, be devoted to, build up, accept, admonish, encourage, bear burdens, be kind, bear with, comfort, seek good, pray for, and be hospitable towards. Even the great love passage, 1 Corinthians 13, often read at weddings, is not about marriage. Yes, it is a love longed for in marriage but it is actually a love to be cultivated and shared among spiritual siblings.

The nuclear family is foundational, but the spiritual family transcends genetics and is formed by something far more powerful, the love of God in Christ Jesus. Let us pursue our siblings and experience what we all naturally long for, the love of a family, the love of God.

And one final thought for married couples. All those “one another” passages I referred to apply to your marriage. You are brother and sister in a special relationship called marriage. Cultivate the one another’s in this amazing brother/sister, husband/wife relationship and you will experience God’s best and you will bless all those you touch with your life.