On Monday, George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin in a civil ceremony in Venice, Italy. The couple had a private ceremony the previous Saturday attended by family and close friends including Matt Damon and Bill Murray.
Whenever celebrities marry, we think of other celebrity marriages. Britney Spears and Jason Alexander may have set the record for shortest celebrity marriage, with a marriage lasting a total of 55 hours. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were married for 72 days; their divorce proceedings lasted seven times longer. Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra were married for nine days. Jennifer Lopez and Ojani Noa were married for 11 months; she later married Cris Judd, but their marriage lasted only six months.
Celebrity marriages are reflections of the culture that makes them celebrities. According to The Economist, the typical American marriage lasts eight years. There are exceptions to the apparent rule: Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber have been married for 27 years; Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have been married for 26 years, as have Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married 50 years.
God often uses marriage as a metaphor for his relationship with his people (see the Book of Hosea; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 19:7-10). Here’s one reason: a wedding does not make a marriage. Just because a couple pledged their lives to each other does not guarantee they will keep that pledge. Yesterday’s promise must be today’s commitment.
So it is with our faith. Far too many Christians think they must be right with God because they were baptized as infants or children, or because they had an encounter with God at youth camp, or because they went to church on Sunday. That’s all good, but past obedience is no substitute for present obedience. God wants a present-tense, intimate communion with his children. He reveals his perfect will moment by moment, and calls us to the same kind of worship and obedience.
Consider an example. In 2 Samuel 5, the Philistines attacked King David and his people. So David asked God what to do; the Lord advised a frontal assault and assured him of success. Later the Philistines attacked again, so David asked God again what to do. This time the Lord told him to “go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees.” Again he was given victory (vs. 18-25). Each battle had its own strategy.
In Ezekiel 24, the Lord likened Israel to a pot with corrosion in it. No matter how attractive it appeared on the outside, and regardless of the purity of the contents placed within it, the corrosion defiled all it touched (vs. 3-6). A pot or soul that was cleansed yesterday must be cleansed again today. In Psalm 101:3, David pledged, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” Yesterday’s integrity is no guarantee that we will have integrity today.
To change our culture, we must be empowered by the only One who can change the human heart. An electric drill must stay connected to the power it is intended to use. How close are you to your Source right now?