The Wedding of Laz and Donna Perez - 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Laz and Donna, for those of us that know something about your past, we can testify today that God has done a miracle in your lives. It is a profound miracle, it is a powerful testimony to God’s reconciling abilities, it is a moment to acknowledge the grace of God that has brought you together today. It is a moment to testify that the same grace that has kept you while you were apart has now brought you back together. It is also a moment to acknowledge that the grace that has brought you here today will continue to be with you for the rest of your lives.
Because of this, it is an honor, it is a privilege, it is a moment of profound praise to God that we are standing here today to celebrate your re-marriage to each other in the sight of God before these witnesses.
What you are doing today is a testimony that God can reconcile two people back together and place them into a healthy marriage. What you are doing today is a testimony to the fact that God can restore, redeem, reconcile, and enrich what once seemed to be a relationship that was fruitless and hopeless.
Your relationship reflects the words of Paul in Titus 3:3-7, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
God has done a very profound work in the both of you. His grace has saved you, His presence has led you, His Spirit is transforming you both. The salvation that you have in Christ is bearing so much fruit.
A few years ago, when Laz and Donna began to interact more due to health issues and doctor appointments, it did not take long for Laz to realize that Donna was a different person than he had previously known. Laz summarized this change in Donna by simply saying, “Everything about her had changed.” She had become more patient and forgiving. She had relinquished to Christ her need to be in control and she seemed to have a real faith in Christ and not just a knowledge of Him. This led Laz to ask her about her faith and what had brought about such a drastic change in her.
Soon, Donna began to realize that Laz was not the same person that she once knew. He had a genuine remorse and sorrow for his sin. Because of this, he wanted to find those he had harmed and ask them for their forgiveness. This man who was once prideful; was now very humble. This man who once tried to be the smartest man in the room was now quiet and listened to others. This man who never showed emotion, could cry and weep over things. Laz never used to smile, because there was nothing worth smiling about; but now he smiles even in the midst of hardship.
A short time ago, I heard Donna say that she was beginning to love Laz again. But then she said that she could never get married to him and live with him again. She was comfortable with her life and the way that it was. And in some ways, it still seemed like an impossible thing that they could be reconciled.
In that moment, as a pastor, I wondered if I should talk to her about God’s desire to reconcile their relationship. I stayed quiet and often wondered over the next few months if I had made a mistake. In fact, sometimes I wondered if I should be a pastor because I did not say anything.
But then one day, not too long ago, they came into my office and told me that they were going to get remarried. They told me about how the LORD had orchestrated this and how He had changed their hearts. I began to cry because I was so grateful for the Holy Spirit who is always at work.
As I thought of this day, and all that the gospel has done in their lives I kept inking of 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. It says,
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Let me make six brief observations that you can apply to your gospel centered marriage.
Apply your heart to growing in the gospel... (14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”)
When you make the gospel of Jesus Christ central to your marriage you will find that the love of Christ will control you. The love of Christ will constrain you. You will no longer live a selfish life according to your own desires and plans; but rather, you will live a life that honors Christ in your marriage. Your love will be expressed by serving your spouse as often as you have the opportunity.
Do not regard your spouse according to the flesh…(16, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.”)
You are standing here today because of what God has begun to do in each of your hearts (5:12). You have recognized the hand of God working in each other and you have often testified to the beauty of this deep work. It is a lovely work and a graceful work that is being done. Continue to look upon and acknowledge this work!
In marriage, there is a tendency to stop looking at this deep work.
We are put off by the first word spoken and we dwell upon the last word said.
We consider the last thing done and the many things that have not been done.
We have a tendency to dwell on the externals and we become pessimistic about the internal things where we once saw so much grace.
Commit to each other today that you will say with Paul, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.”; even if the devil gives you ample reasons to only see your spouses faults, sins and blemishes.
This will be a challenge because this is our natural inclination. So much so that we once viewed Christ according to the flesh. There was a time when we did not want to view Christ as the LORD who sits on the throne. We preferred to call Him a good man, a good teacher, or a prophet. But you have come to see Him as the God-Man Jesus Christ. You have come to see that He is Lord over your lives and He is working powerfully in you both.
Keep Christ central in all your thoughts and always pull down anything that exalts itself above Him…
We regard Him according to the flesh no longer (16). As your view of Christ is, so will be your marriage be. Fight to maintain a high view of Christ. Make the gospel a priority in your life together and you will have a fruitful and healthy marriage.
Anyone in Christ is a new creation. The old has past away and the new come…(17)
Continually remember, and remind your spouse, that you are now ‘In Christ’. Therefore, you are a ‘New Creation. The old has past away and the new has come.’ This marriage that we are celebrating today is a new marriage by the grace of God. The old has past away and now the new is here. Walk in this new way. Talk to each other in this new way. God has begun a new chapter in your life. This story is going to be so different than the first part of the book.
Joshua 22:5 says, “Love the Lord your God, and walk in all His ways and keep all His commandments and to cling to Him and to serve Him...”.
Through the gospel you now have a personal relationship with the LORD. You love Him.
The path you are walking on is a new path.
Because this is a new path are, you are to walk in a new way.
Joshua goes on to say… “cling to the Lord and to serve Him”.
You both love the LORD. This path is a new path. The walk you are walking now is going to be different. You are now both clinging to the LORD and serving Him together.
Remember and often celebrate that - All this is from God! (18)
Every blessing is from God. Every good gift is from Him. Every bit of joy that you experience in this union is from God. Cling to Him. Seek Him first and all these things will be given to you both. Always let your heart rejoice in the abundance of God’s grace that is work in your marriage.
Seek to always minister these things to one another and continue to minister together as a family to others. You are God’s ambassadors of reconciliation!… (18-21, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”)
Your marriage today is a witness and a testimony to others of the reconciling power of God. In the days ahead you will serve each other best by never ceasing to minister to each other and encouraging each other in these things. And you will find no greater joy together than when you give this gospel and this grace to others as you minister where God will call you to be. Celebrate this marriage. Celebrate the grace that God provides to you in this marriage. The world needs to see this! Those of us who are gathered here have already begun to see this in your lives.