In November I officiated my first wedding. It was a wedding between a black man and a white woman, two beautiful young souls that I love dearly. The invitation to officiate came on the heals of a sermon I was asked to preach 6 months earlier on the Image of God and Racial Reconciliation. If you are bored, you can find that sermon here.
As I have struggled to put together words of response to what we’ve witnessed in the past week, I realized perhaps the clearest thing I can do is draw from things I’ve championed over the past year. It is my hope that this may help even one person reading this. Here is what I preached that Saturday in November.
Marriage is beautiful. It is the mingling of two souls, created for a purpose that they will live out together. It is a commitment to God and each other. Ultimately, marriage is one of the purest pictures we can see of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
From the very beginning, God ordained marriage as His idea. Young men and women are under the watch and care of their parents for a season of life, eventually leaving the authority of their childhood home and cleaving to newfound love and commitment to their husband or wife.
Scripture is clear, that the greatest wedding of all is still to come. At the beginning of all things men and women were created in perfect relationship with God. However Adam and Eve, the first couple, messed that up, introducing the condition of sin into the world. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, all of humanity is now stained by the curse of sin, hopeless without the intervention of a Savior. But praise be to God, who didn’t leave us to our our devices, but provided the way to a restored relationship with Him – through his only son Jesus. Scripture is clear – anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes that God raised him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9-10)
For those who have put our faith in Jesus, we now live in sort of an already-not yet state. The people of God make up the church, and the church is anxiously awaiting the return of our Lord, our King Jesus, when he will renew all things and restore all things to himself. The Bible explains Christ’s return in very explicit terms — that of a wedding day. A groom, coming for His bride, a reuniting that will blow the roof off the universe — the BIGGEST wedding day of all history.
For every Christian our highest calling is that of walking daily with Jesus and living in communion with the God of the universe. However, in these moments, Christians who marry have the opportunity to live out a picture of the return of Christ every single day.
I have left something out of the cosmos wedding story to this point – the fact that this ultimate wedding will be a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual celebration of worship to King Jesus. Friends, we cannot escape the reality that we are actively participating in a glimpse of what this ultimate wedding will be like. Yes, the pigment of Marthen and Kaliegh’s skin are not a match, and yet the God who has brought them to this moment is all-knowing, the giver of wisdom, and is orchestrating a beautiful story right in front of our eyes.
At the core of this marriage between Marthen and Kaleigh is the gospel, and at the core of the gospel is Jesus. From the very beginning, God has been deeply concerned for those who bear his image. We as fellow image bearers, and particularly those who have been rescued and redeemed by the blood of Jesus, should in turn be deeply concerned for all who bear God’s image.
What began in the intimate stillness of a Garden culminates in magnificent worship before the throne of the one true King Jesus Christ. Scripture makes is abundantly clear:
a great multitude …from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages , standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)
This is where we are heading. Image bearers of every nation, from all tribes, all people, all languages worshipping before the throne of Jesus Christ – at the greatest wedding of all time. I hope that you understand how cool it is that we are gathered in this place, at this moment in time, to come alongside and support this couple as they begin this new life together.
Together, we can radically affirm this beautiful couple. Together, we can hold them up, encourage them, and help them to courageously walk the road ahead. My prayer today is that we will take this seriously. That relational bonds will be formed beyond acquaintances, and forged into lasting familial ties that go beyond skin color, language, nationality, and upbringing.
May we begin to see pigmentation as a source of blessing and not prejudice, unity and not division, hope and not despair. To my black brothers and sisters — I am sorry. Your lives matter. Your voices matter. You matter. I am leaning in, listening, learning, and loving as best I know how.
With love, Daniel.