Something was wrong. I love to teach the bible, it is one of my favorite things. I enjoy diving into the text and context breathing a prayer that the Teacher will teach me, enlighten me, as to what the women I teach need to hear. But this day, I began preparation of the week’s lesson and sensed in my spirit an inner resistance. It was a hard message, an unpopular one, and a painful one. We had arrived in Mark to Chapter 10 and Jesus’ own words on the subject of divorce. Many of the women listening had been touched personally with the subject. Yet these words fall from the lips of a loving Savior who wants the very best for His own. As a teacher my role is to share not my own thoughts nor opinions but as closely as possible speak the words He would say Himself.Now in preparation I had to confront my own bias toward acceptance, my own desire to be appreciated as a teacher, not rejected. Suddenly realizing how the culture of tolerance was shaping my own emotions. Breathing a prayer for courage, I must by faith teach as accurately as I can, convinced God will use His Word for the benefit of those who listen, even when it is hard to hear or hard to speak.Jesus promised that “truth will set us free” and with that confidence I began again to prepare. Our study guide referred in preparation to Malachi’s 2:16, “God hatesdivorce.” Sadly this verse is often wielded as a club to one contemplating this tragic course. Yet, as I reflected on my own family,my friends and my experience, could we not together affirm that everyone hates divorce. Few would march and cheer that this division, this separation has occurred. Wedding ceremonies are celebrated; divorce courts are somber and in solitude. Yet it is also important to affirm that God loves the one facing this painful reality. I believe it was the Spirit that reminded me of Proverbs6:16-19; a list of seven additional things the Lord also hates. So often divorce is taught as the ultimate and unpardonable sin. So often it is easy to condemn divorce while committing the first of Proverbs 6:16 a proud look. While divorce grieves God, so does any sin. Jesus also answered the deceptive Pharisees inquiry revealing the reason Moses permitted divorce; hardness of heart. Contrasting that with Paul’s admonition to all believers to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” All relational conflicts involve hardening our hearts to the gentle wooing ministry of the Spirit that we might be “one.” Recognizing marriage as a journey, not a destination highlights the need for care and nurture which certainly will involve forgiveness. Yet, Jesus, knowing our weakness and bent to sin, provides cleansing and forgiveness when we confess. (I John 1:9) Each of us, whether we have experienced divorce or not, faces temptation to harden our hearts toward one another. Only the Spirit of God can provide the needed love, patience, forgiveness and gentleness to guard our hearts and our relationships and give us the grace for enduring marriage.
Hard to teach, need to know