The Seduction of Self-Sufficiency

AmericanGothic

When self-sufficiency in marriage trumps God-dependency, the marriage loses both spiritually and relationally. This is the final post in our seven-part series on what Jesus would say to our marriage. If Jesus’ words to the seven churches in the book of Revelation were used as an evaluation of your marriage, what challenges would he have for you? What words of encouragement might you hear?

The Context

The ancient city of Laodicea had everything going for them. The great Roman Road ran through their city that brought them great wealth. As a result, they were renowned for trade and communication. They were also famous for their glossy black wool.

In addition, the city was known for their school of medicine. The Laodiceans produced a special ointment called “Phyrgian powder” that was famous for curing eye defects.

Laodicea was so wealthy that when it was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17 they turned down financial assistance from Rome. They had so much money they chose to finance it themselves. They were rich, complacent–and deceived.

The church in Laodicea had become self-sufficient and comfortable just like the city. They had adapted to their environment and lost their edge and impact. What if what Jesus said to them was applied to our marriages? What might he say?

“You are neither cold nor hot”

The only thing the Laodiceans lacked was good water. Ten miles away, the city of Colossae had fresh cold water. Seven miles to the north, the city of Hieropolis was famous for its hot springs. Aqueducts were built to carry water to Laodicea, but by the time the water arrived, it was lukewarm and not useful. The image of tepid water was a daily experience for the Laodiceans. But they had never applied it to their relationship with God.

Jesus might say, “Your marriage is lukewarm. You are skating by and doing nothing of value for anyone else. As a couple you should bring refreshment to those who are weary like cool waters. I expected you to help other couples relax through the warmth of your love for me. But instead I have little use for you. It’s time for you to look outside yourselves and serve others in my Name.”

Or He may say, “You have settled into the regularity of life together where you are neither refreshing to one another’s souls nor passionate in desire for the other. I have created you two to be one…but you have drifted to two.”

“You say, I am rich…I need nothing”

The thermostat for the Laodicean church’s “health” was the same as the city’s—their bank account. For couples, we sometimes measure our health by:

  • How often we don’t argue (which could be avoidance)
  • How happy our children are (which could be at the neglect of our marriage)
  • How little we go for counseling (which could be denial)
  • How “successful” we are by being in the right job/neighborhood/school/activities (but at what cost to the relationship?)
  • How many friends we have on Facebook, followers on Twitter, “likes” on Instagram (which could reveal how few deep friendships we have cultivated)

Perhaps Jesus would say, “You have been measuring yourself with the wrong standards. Your self-sufficiency has left you bankrupt in your marriage. Instead, you should cultivate your relationship with Me. Pray together. Read the Bible together. Learn to lean on me…and become God-dependent together.”

“I stand at the door and knock”

When Laodicea rebuilt their city after the A.D. 17 earthquake, they built a wall around the city with a gate that was shut each night allowing no one entry. Just as Jesus used the picture of desiring entry into their city—and into our lives—he wants the same in our marriage.

He might say, “I want to be in the center of your marriage. Self-sufficiency as a couple won’t work. You need me. Make a decision right now—together—that you want me at the center of your lives and marriage. Hold hands, say a prayer, and open the door of your marriage as you choose to let me into your midst. I will lead you and help you find true fulfillment and purpose as you build your marriage!”

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