The last weekend of January 2023, marked a special day for two special people to the Kingdom Outpost: Along with Aaron and Mandie, we celebrated their union as husband and wife. Dru had the privilege of sharing the wedding message, and we thought you might enjoy it.
In some ways, a wedding is simply an act of welcome: Aaron and Mandie have welcomed everyone here, but more importantly, they are welcoming each other into their lives. In a few minutes they’ll turn to each other and say “Come into my life – in every way, to everything, forever; nothing held back.”
This unconditional, nothing-held-back welcome that we call matrimony…well, it reminds me of the community that Jesus established when he came preaching that “the kingdom of heaven is among you.” In his ministry, he invited everyone – not just the spiritually rich, but the spiritually poor; not just the happy, but the mourning – he invited everyone to enter into his kingdom community, and do life together.
Today, as we celebrate Aaron and Mandie creating this lifelong community of two, as they welcome each other into their lives in this unique way, I’d like to turn to Jesus and ask how he welcomes people into his community. If the beatitudes are Jesus’ welcome to us, how might his example guide Aaron and Mandie? What does it look to begin a marriage the way Jesus established his Kingdom? What does it look like for members of Christ’s kingdom to marry each other, to welcome each other the way Jesus has welcomed us?
Let us look at the Beatitudes, an articulation of the Kingdom and a framework for how we, as married people, should treat each other.
The Kind of People in Jesus’ Kingdom
Let’s read, from Matthew 5. He’s gathered disciples, he sits down, and he starts by talking about who’s blessed. Listen for the welcome here.
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.(Matthew 5:2–12 KJV)
In this blessing, Jesus is saying, “These are my kind of people.” It’s not a list of the cream of the crop. It’s not Jesus insisting only “the best”, only “the good people” come across the border into his kingdom. It’s the people he loves, with or without their act together.
Aaron, Mandie, you can do no better in how you welcome each other than in what Jesus did here. Let’s think about how this might play out in marriage.
I. “The poor in spirit”
Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
When Jesus welcomes into the Kingdom, he welcomed people poor in spirit. No matter how we like to candy-coat it, “poor in spirit” is not a good characteristic. It means that we lack something. It means we don’t have our spiritual ducks in a row.
And so it’s possible, Aaron, Mandie, that you also are poor in spirit. As you welcome each other into this sacred community of two, you will see your spiritual needs. As Peter said, you live with your “wife in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).” And so you wait and love and care and show patience to your spouse, who is indeed “poor in spirit”.
And why do you welcome each other? Jesus said “…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Peter seemed to echo Jesus: “Live with your wife in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, showing them honor as coheirs of grace…“ You welcome each other because together, you have been promised the Kingdom of Heaven! Together, you receive this new life in Christ, an upside-down, revolutionary way of life, together.
II. “Those who mourn”
They shall be comforted.
I don’t want to lean in too hard on mourning, since we’re at a WEDDING – Jesus himself said that we rejoice when the bridegroom is with us (Matthew 9:15). But we know there are sorrows. We know there is hurt. And despite the brokenness, the past, the failures, the depression, Jesus accepts us. When we are sad, he says, “That’s okay. You’re invited.” And he comforts us.
One of the hardest things for me is to welcome my wife into my sorrow. Some of my past, and some of my present at times – well, it feels personal. But that’s what she wants, to share it with me. When I mourn, yes, she comforts me a bit. But even more importantly: as she accepts me in my mourning, she reminds me that Jesus accepts me. And that Jesus can comfort. Together, we mourn. And together, we find comfort in Jesus.
Why does Jesus accept those who mourn? Because our sorrow is to draw us to him. I’m reminded of the hymn that goes,
I thank thee, too, that all our joy
Is touched with pain,
That shadows fall on brightest hours,
That thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide,
And not our chain.Adelaide A. Procter (1858)
III. The meek
Jesus himself is meek, and lowly of heart. And this is certainly a Christian virtue. The crazy piece – the upside-down and backwards piece – is that he says the meek “inherit the earth.”
We expect the fighters, the survivors, the loud and noisy, to get what they want. Put your best foot forward! Show your best self! But Jesus says that those who might not fight for themselves, who struggle to stand up for themselves – they actually have their needs met in the Kingdom.
This is such a powerful way to welcome each other in marriage: Even without fighting, we are welcome. Without striving, Aaron, Mandie, you can find a home with each other. “Inherit the earth,” together, in meekness.
IV. Those who hunger and thirst
They will be filled.
Here, we again have a “good thing.” And he is certainly promising a good thing to them: They will be filled. Implicit in both the description and the blessing is a lack of righteousness. These are again, folks who need something. They see a lack – a lack of God’s justice being done, or a lack of rightness in their own lives – and they want to see it changed, fulfilled.
Can you see a pattern here? In marriage, like the Kingdom of heaven, it’s not having your act together that matters so much, it’s wanting in the same direction. And so you welcome each other – not having all the answers, but both wanting in the same direction – both wanting Jesus.
V. The merciful
They shall obtain mercy.
One of the most profound “rules” in our marriage is that we don’t hold each other to what we said or did. We know we’re imperfect, and we will say and do imperfect things. Thus, I shouldn’t quote her, but be willing to forgive and move forward. Don’t record and ruminate on what she said, but let it go, and release her from demands that I myself can’t live up to. I need to be merciful. We both show mercy to each other as we embrace each other in the stead of Christ.
Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”2 Corinthians 5:18–20 CSB
We could continue with the others:
The pure in heart (shall see God): Not just doing the right thing, but I accept that your heart, you want the right thing. Together, we are drawn to a vision of God.
The peacemakers (shall be called children of God): Like the meek and the merciful, willing to go the distance to find peace. Eph 4.1-3 says, I “urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Just as he brought peace to us as we entered, so we can be children in his stead, as we make peace together. And this isn’t just that we fight for peace within our marriage, it’s that we together strive for peace in the world around us.
The persecuted (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven): And now we see the vision is bigger than merely having a peaceful, merciful marriage – as important as that is. We together accept each other to fight together, against a world that may attack, disapprove, fight us.
Jesus welcomes us. And he calls us to be part of what he’s doing. Do you see the same things in your wife today, Aaron? Do you welcome Aaron, like Jesus welcomes you?
I don’t know for sure if Aaron and Mandie had this conversation, but I’ve heard themes of it in many others’ hearts, and in my own heart as I was dating, and then engaged: “She’s going to marry me?” Or, “He actually wants to be with me?” The answer today for you two is a resounding YES.
And it’s an echo of what Jesus has done: I want you in my kingdom. Come on, sit down, let’s do life together.
Aaron, Mandie, welcome to a life of welcoming each other: Together, both poor in spirit and coheirs of the Kingdom. Welcome each other.
You are welcoming each other, even when there’s mourning or brokenness – and together, going to the one who comforts all.
Together, you are meek, and merciful and together, you inherit the earth and receive mercy for the journey.
Together, you hunger and thirst for righteousness, knowing that you together, need to be filled.
Together, you welcome each other into your hearts: your hearts are pure, and you give each other the benefit of the doubt. And as you echo Christ’s welcome, you see God, and the reflection of God’s image in each other.
And as you welcome each other into life together, you are going on an adventure: As peacemakers following how your Father made peace with you. You may be persecuted, you may be misunderstood, but as you draw together and welcome each other, you see more deeply how Christ has welcomed you and declares, the kingdom of heaven is yours.
Aaron, Mandie: Welcome to marriage. Welcome to the Kingdom. Never forget that your marriage is between two citizens welcomed by our King. And as he welcomes you, accepts you, loves you, so too – welcome, accept, and love each other.