I recently gave this sermon at a wedding I officiated.
Marriage, Unity and the Trinity
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2.1-11, ESV)
Paul here writes to the church in Philippi from prison exhorting them to unity. For Paul, unity is not achieved through abstracted propositions and ideals that we can all agree on, but unity is found fully embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul builds up in this passage to direct his reader’s attention to Christ, to direct their gaze onto the man who is the concrete image of the invisible God (Col 1.15); in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Col 2.19); He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb 1.3); the eternal Word from the beginning (John 1.1) made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1.14). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes what we are called to:
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”
Pay close attention to the end of that passage: Over all, through all and in all. To be called by God is to be drawn into the beauty and splendor of the life of the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is three in one, in perfect union. The Father who is over all, the Son who is through all and the Spirit who is in all. This is on full display at Christ’s baptism:
Every act of God is inaugurated by the Father, effected by the Son and perfected by the Holy Spirit. It also reveals that God’s love is always entirely sufficient in itself; the Spirit receives and returns the love of Father and Son, and so witnesses, enjoys and perfects it, the Spirit is also the one in whom that love most manifestly opens out as sheer delight, generosity and desire for the other. (DBH, The Beauty of the Infinite)
We see in the life of Jesus the perfect union of the eternal triune communion of love, and through His life, death, resurrection and by the power of the Spirit, the church is to be caught up into this loving communion, and as we are knitted together into unity, through weekly participation in church worship, by the Spirit, our love and desire for the other, i.e. our neighbor, overflows from our very existence. Being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind is to have our affections and desires fundamentally orientated towards the reality that already is available to us in Jesus Christ. That is, as Christians we are becoming what we already are. The Greek word used for “being in full accord” is the word ‘sumpsuchos’ (soom’-psoo-khos), which is made up of two words “sun” (together with), and “psuchos” (soul, self, inner life, desires, affections) which can be translated to: harmonious in soul, souls that beat together; in tune with Christ and with each other. If we live by the Spirit, as Paul says to the Galatians, let us keep in step with the Spirit. To participate in the Spirit, to have fellowship in the Spirit is to have our fruit in the Spirit, of which the first is love. Love is the foretaste of our ultimate union with God, graciously given to us now and we share that with one another.
When Scripture says that God is love, it is not a vague sentiment about the presence of God in our emotions, but describes the very life and essence of God. To participate in the Spirit is to participate in the very life of God, which is an eternal triune communion of love. John tells us to love one another:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (1 John 4:7-14)
This is good news! He abides and perfects his love in us. We love because he first loved us! We do not need good advice, but we need to hear the good news that God has taken action towards us not because of anything we had done, but because of His great love for us. This is the beauty of the gospel; that God took on our flesh. He plunged into the disorder and chaos of our sin, over the infinite ocean of darkness that separated us from Him, He bound himself to us ‘in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself.’ (T.F. Torrance) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself (2 Cor 5.18), making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col 1.20)
In your marriage you will face trials, struggles, fights and countless other moments that seek to work against you. But in this remember that God is for you, and for your marriage. In Jesus Christ God has actualized his infinite love for you, and in the beauty of this love seek to orient yourselves and your marriage around this truth.
May your marriage be a continual proclamation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered the sins of the whole world; to reconcile all things to himself by the blood of the cross, whether in heaven or on earth.