A few days ago I had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony for our son Caleb and his now wife Laura. As is true for most young couples, it was arguably the biggest moment of their lives. So I was very pleased when, together, they told me their desire was for the ceremony to honor God. But I was especially moved when they went a step further, and asked me to make sure the Gospel was clearly presented.
You pastors that are reading this know what a welcome and freeing experience that is. We long, most of us, for opportunities to share Christ openly. But we also need to be sensitive to the couple’s or family’s wishes at times like weddings, anniversaries, or funerals.
And not everyone wants to give the big moments of their lives to the Lord. Even devoted Christians often expect the bride to be the primary focus of a wedding day, and that’s understandable. But I think you can focus on the bride, honor the Lord, and share the Gospel without diminishing any of the three. Let me share briefly here the few words I included in Caleb’s and Laura’s ceremony:
“Now let me pause here and say something to the rest of the congregation. When Caleb and Laura and I were planning this ceremony, I asked them, what would you like the central message of your wedding ceremony to be? What would you like the people gathered there on that special day to know above all else?
“Here’s what they said. ‘The most important thing about us and our story is that we would not be together except for the way God has worked in our lives. We want others to see His story in our story. We didn’t really know how to love each other until Christ became the center of our relationship. We would love everyone there to know what it means to have God at the center of their lives and their relationships.’
“You see, the way this young couple came to know and love each other is the way many people come to know and love God. It may begin with just a casual acquaintance, an occasional prayer, maybe even periods of disinterest and distance. And then one day, your realization that God loves you unconditionally comes alive, perhaps through the joyful expression and heartfelt testimony of someone who really knows Him. You realize the void in your life, and that God has been there all along, loving you and reaching out to you. Nothing would please Caleb and Laura more, and nothing would honor their wedding day more, than for you to turn to God as they have, and to surrender your life to Him. Caleb and Laura want you to know that, with the certainty they do.”
Words along those lines can give wedding guests something to talk about at the reception. More importantly, they can give lost friends and family something to talk about on the drive home, or with the couple after they return from the honeymoon.
The biggest wedding day of all will be when the risen and victorious Lord Jesus returns to earth as a Groom coming for his bride, the Church. That day will certainly focus on the Bride, but it will also glorify God and lead every knee to bow at the truth of the Gospel. It will be a day when we will all be glad for the big moments of our lives that we gave to the Lord, especially if He uses them as opportunities to draw our loved ones to Himself for eternity.
Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.