Big idea: We can only rightly understand our relationships in light of the cross.
Sometimes we think of Christianity as something very private. In my home and in my heart I worship God, but maybe it should not come out into my everyday life. The way we work, the way we raise our kids, our politics and our fashions are surely not affected by the cross, right? When we think that church online, rather than being in a real community of believers, is an acceptable alternative rather than a temporary necessity, we betray a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian truth. If our hearts and lives have been squeezed into the likeness of the Son of God, crucified for us, then the way we interact with everyone and everything will be different. The closer the relationship, the more sharply the next texture will be seen, but it is inescapable in everything. Every relationship is transformed by the truth of the gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul pulls no punches. Our understanding of marriage should be fundamentally shaped by our goal as evangelists. In our marriage, we are to lead one another to Christ. If someone is married to a non-Christian, they cannot simply turn that away on a whim, because my happiness is no longer the primary goal of my life. When the unbeliever wants to end that marriage, God has called us to peace, because this life is not all there is. If our marriages would not be any different if Jesus had never come, we have not yet grasped the sculpting power of the cross.
Speaking of servitude, circumcision and parenting, Paul continues to draw out implications, but the basic reality is clear. Every relationship we have should be different in light of the cross. As a pastor, I am a Christian pastor, not a Jewish rabbi or a Muslim imam, but an undershepherd who serves the Shepherd that laid His life down for His sheep. As a husband, I know what love is because of the cross. Until I meet Jesus, I have only a secondhand shadow of who I should be and how to be it.
Discussion idea: What relationship (with a friend or family member) have you seen God's love and character displayed most clearly in your life? How?
Prayer focus: Pray that we would sactify all of our relationships by the sacrificial love of Christ.