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Joel Belz: A perfect marriage


WORLD Radio - Joel Belz: A perfect marriage

Defining godly wisdom in a godless age

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NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next, another installment in our classic commentary series by WORLD’s founder. Today, what is a good working definition of godly wisdom? For Joel Belz, it’s living out what we say we believe.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: All of us struggle in our Christian walk to find the right balance between what we sometimes call the spiritual and the practical. Other times we call it a faith-works distinction, or we draw the line between pietism and activism.

I think we've made our faith too sophisticated and complicated. A faithful friend told me the other day, “More and more, I just want to call the people I'm working with to simply love Jesus.” I knew exactly what he meant. Applying faith to all of life is a great model. But the process sometimes stretches that faith so thin, you can't feel it anymore. Feeling is an important part of faith. So my friend’s emphasis on loving Jesus made sense.

Still, I couldn't help thinking of Jesus's simple remark, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Keeping His commandments means applying what I believe to all of life. And it's such tension that bothers us. We just don't know how to emphasize spirituality and practicality simultaneously.

Then it struck me how similar that relationship between spirituality and practicality is to my marriage with my wife. A human relationship, just like one between a person and God, exists in two dimensions simultaneously that always seem to be tension. Of course, I tell my wife, I love her. I feel like telling her that several times every day, and usually I manage to do so. Once in a while, but not often enough, I even tell her so in a note. But if I tell her ever so many times that I love her, and yet fail to pay any attention to the things I know she is eager for me to do for her, she is almost certain sooner or later to wonder how devoutly I believe what I say to her with my words. You love me, you say, but you continue to ignore the dripping faucet I've mentioned a dozen times. If you love me, why don't you do the things I say? That's one side of the tension.

But I get just as far off the track if I spend all my time doing the things I think might please my wife, getting so wrapped up in them that I never tell her in so many words that she is very dear to me. Then she is left to guess whether in fact I love her as much as I love my work. So with God himself as with our human mates, we pursue carefully that mature balance which understands this–only to talk about love with no performance becomes mere chatter. Only to labor on without adoring the face of the one we love is to miss the romance.

REICHARD: That’s Joel Belz, reading his commentary titled “A Perfect Marriage” from his book, Consider These Things. The column originally appeared in the August 26, 1989 issue of WORLD Magazine.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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