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Wrong Heaven







"Marriages are made in heaven", so they say.  Now T.V.  has given this old saw a new twist.

The popular T.V. series ďSeventh HeavenĒ  depicts the family life of a protestant pastor, his wife, and their seven children.  Recently the plot has gone ecumenical.  The pastorís son Matt  marries a rabbiís daughter after a single date. Faced with hostility from both sets of parents, they pretend to be only engaged.  When challenged by his father, Matt gives an impassioned speech about the deep commonality between the Jewish and Christian faiths. Both share the same morality, the same  care and concern for others.  Both esteem love, such as the love of two people for each other who want to commit their lives to each other.

The implication was that  love, conviction, and commitment are more important than doctrine.  In truth, love is indeed far more important than doctrine.  But what Seventh Heaven calls 'love' is not the genuine article.

There is a difference between manís 'love' and Godís love.  Godís love always brings fulfillment and fruition; while manís 'love' can smother.  A man may kill a cactus with over-watering.  A man may 'love' a fruit tree into barrenness by never cutting it back.  Godís love is never so (John 15:1-2).

True love would never make  a hasty and impetuous marriage commitment.  You cannot marry in love without counting the cost Ė the potential hurt to the other is too great.  The love portrayed in Seventh Heaven is a love without knowledge.  Hence it is very, very dangerous thing.  Something so powerful wielded in ignorance can have unimaginably devastating consequences

It is true that in other ages and cultures, bride and groom often saw each other for the first time at their marriage.  This does not mean that no one counted the cost Ė in fact, parents did this for their children.  This was appropriate then, because the social fabric of  family defined their lives and determined their destiny.   Today, however, family ties are not so all-encompassing.  Furthermore, women today have demanding callings of their own, and are not completely occupied with practical household affairs as once was the case.  More care than ever must be taken to ensure that husband and wife not only have compatible personalities, but compatible callings.

In our society especially, marriage is not just for survival and procreation.  Marriage is a shared cause.  There are many good men and women who are tied up in bad causes.  But what makes a cause good or bad?  Not manís conviction or commitment, for too often the majority of people are wrong.  Ultimately, it is God Himself who determines the rightness of a cause, not dedication or sincerity.  To marry without seriously seeking God for His will is a recipe for disaster.

To love with Godís love, we need to know Godís voice. Love takes knowledge and understanding, above all the knowledge of God.  And knowing Him depends not on doctrine or credo, but on intimacy and spiritual intercourse with Him.  Unfortunately, this is almost completely lacking in Seventh Heavenís portrayal of a so-called ďChristianĒ family.  Prayer is shoved way in the background, as a formality reserved for church and mealtimes (in all fairness, I do recall one instance of a genuine prayer, on the occasion when Ruthie's soldier email-pal dies in an accident in Afghanistan).

It is ironically appropriate that the show portrays a Jewish-Protestant intermarriage.  Both Judaism and the dead Protestantism depicted are prime examples of devotion without knowledge (Romans 10:2).  Observant Jews scrupulously follow traditions which they suppose are Godís  commands, but are not (Matthew 15:9, 1 Peter 1:18-19).   Dead Protestants claim to be saved by faith, but vainly suppose that "faith" means believing correct doctrine (Luke 13:25-27).  Both are utterly sincere, and both are utterly wrong.  They are good people locked in  bad causes.

It is true that Godís  love is expressed in most every religion.  God may speak and act through Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and even atheists.  But unfortunately, He reveals Himself to them only indirectly.  Their vision is obscured, because the brightest and clearest revelation of God remains in their blind spot.  Their connection to God is impaired, for they lack Jesus who is our umbilical cord to the Father.

Christians should not be smug in their knowledge of Jesus, but should take warning.   True love for Jesus necessitates having a deep appreciation of our commitment and obligation to Jesus.  We need to understand thoroughly what blind, hopeless, vile sinners we are without Jesus Ė and that apart from Him we can do NOTHING, and should attempt NOTHING (John 15:5).  How many Christians have really counted the cost of their commitment to Christ (Luke 14:28-33)?

Prayer: Father, teach us true love, true faith, true knowledge.  By Your Holy Spirit, enable us to fulfill Your Word: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1, NIV)
 



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Last Revised: April 27, 2002

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