Love Looks Strange
About the Guest
God called the prophet Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer. Pastor Bryan Loritts walks us through the biblical account that illustrates how counter-cultural true love really is.
Love Looks Strange
Bob: Have you noticed that you and your spouse don’t always think alike, or feel alike, or act alike? Bryan Loritts says that’s normal.
Bryan: Marriage is a joint venture between two radically different people. It’s just amazing how different my wife and I are and how different you and your spouse are—I mean, different philosophies on how to squeeze the toothpaste. One of us does it properly—from the bottom up—and—God’s goal for marriage is oneness, not sameness!
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 10th. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I'm Bob Lepine. So, how do two different, distinct people become one? It’s possible, as we’ll hear from Bryan Loritts today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You know, when you think about passages in the Bible that have to do with marriage, most people don’t go to the Old Testament Book of Hosea, but Hosea does say a little bit about what happens when a marriage goes bad; doesn’t it?
Dennis: It’s about committed love in the face of unfaithfulness.
Dennis: And honestly, it’s a great model of how God can use a broken situation to display His glory.
Bob, I couldn’t help but think, as I was listening to the message that we’re featuring here, how many people were sitting out there, going: “Could it be that God wants to use our broken situation to show our kids how two people, who have really hurt one another deeply, can—not just stick and stay and not walk out—but truly turn it around and exchange the thorns for roses that bloom and blossom and leave a fragrance of Christ?”
Bob: You and I had a chance to hear this message, which was presented by one of our favorite pastors and speakers, Bryan Loritts, who, by the way, is a part of the new Art of Parenting™ video series, along with his wife, Korie. They’re contributors to the series—did a great job in the Art of Parenting.
This is a message that Bryan presented on marriage, where he took the Book of Hosea as his text, and I thought brought some powerful principles out of that Old Testament book. Here’s Part One of Bryan Loritts’ message: “Marriage Lessons from Hosea.”
Bryan: A young man sat down to have a conversation with an elderly woman. Not long into the conversation, he noticed that, situated on the coffee table between [him] and this elderly woman, was this dish / this bowl that was filled with the most delightful-looking peanuts he had ever seen in his life.
He was distracted by these peanuts; so not long into the conversation, this young man said to this elderly woman: “Ma’am, do you mind if I have some of these peanuts? They look so wonderful! Can I have some?”
His request seemed to stun her a little bit. A moment of silence ensued. She was clearly taken aback by this request, and she seemed somewhat hesitant to acquiesce; but finally she says: “Yes; go ahead. Help yourself.” He stuck his hand in the bowl, popped some of the peanuts into his mouth, and the conversation commenced.
Not long after doing this, he realized—this young man—that the dish was now empty. He had eaten all of her peanuts.
Embarrassed, he said to this elderly woman: “Ma’am, I’m so sorry. I’m a young man. I grew up in the South; my mama raised me better than this. Here I am—a guest in your home—and I have eaten all of your peanuts! But I have to tell you, ma’am; those are some of the best peanuts I have ever had in my life! I just have to know, ma’am; where did you get these peanuts from?”
Now this elderly woman was clearly taken aback by his question. She’s embarrassed; she turns red—stunned silence—even a more prolonged silence ensues, for what felt like, at least, 30 seconds. In reality, it was probably no longer than 10. She finally gathers herself together and she says: “Young man, as you can see, I’m an elderly woman; and as such I have no teeth. Those peanuts used to be covered in chocolate; [Laughter] but since I don’t have any teeth, I just suck the chocolate off and spit them back into the dish.” [Laughter]
The moral of the story is: “Things are not always as they appear.” [Laughter] What’s tragically true of once-chocolate covered peanuts is also true of so many people, who say they are followers of Jesus Christ, but are not.
Jesus, in Matthew, Chapter 7—that chapter, in which D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says is “…the most harrowing chapter in all of the Scriptures,” is coming to the conclusion of His great Sermon on the Mount. I see him, now, with a group of religious leaders situated around Him; and He says, “Not everybody who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven.” These religious leaders are taken aback: “What do you mean, Jesus? Didn’t we cast out demons in your name? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we do all these wonderful things in your name?”
And Jesus says: “I’ll respond by saying, ‘Depart from Me. I never knew you.’”
The great tragedy of hell is—hell will have many parking spaces reserved for people, who came to church and who were operating under the illusion that they were saved when, in reality, they were not. It was the great C.S. Lewis who once, at Oxford University, looked out upon a crowd. He said: “You know, when we get to heaven, we’re going to be surprised on two fronts. One, we’re going to be surprised at who is there that we knew for sure would not be there; and two, we’re going to be surprised at who is not there that we knew for sure would be there.”
Salvation is a mystery. So, how do I know that “I’m saved”?—one word: “fruit.”
At the end of Jesus’ sermon here to these religious leaders, He says, “You will recognize them”—not by the amount of sword drills they won but—“You will recognize them by their fruit.” Fruit is a changed and changing lifestyle that cannot be blamed on the normal maturation process of adulthood, but could only be blamed on the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It’s fruit. Every believer / every legitimate believer should be able to look through the rearview mirror of their journey with Jesus and conclude two things: “One, ‘I have not arrived’; but two, ‘I am not where I used to be. He’s changing me.’”
My pastor, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer—he once said this in front of his 13,000-person church—so I don’t mind saying it to you. He says, “You know, when I first got saved, I used to cuss at the drop of a hat; but now, since following Jesus, I don’t cuss that fast anymore. [Laughter]
“I have not arrived; but at the same time,”—he’s saying—“when I look at where I once was, I am not all the way—both having arrived and I’m not all the way there—He’s bringing me along and changing me.”
How does that fruit come? Writing to the Ephesians, Paul would say it this way: “Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” He’s writing in Greek. The Greek word for “filled” is the Greek word, pleroma (πληρωμα); it literally means “to be filled to overflowing.” This is an interesting word. It was used of a pregnant woman—and not just any old pregnant woman—it was only used of a pregnant woman in her third trimester. I’m talking sure-enough pregnant. [Laughter] I’m talking can’t-bend-down-and-tie-her-shoes pregnant. I’m talking so overflowing with baby—can’t-get-comfortable-at-night pregnant!
I’m talking so obviously pregnant that, even though you just met her for the first time, step to her in confidence and ask her “When-the-baby’s-due?” pregnant. [Laughter]
That’s the word Paul uses in Ephesians 5. It’s as if he’s saying, “May you and your marriage be third-trimestered with the Holy Spirit so that, when people see you for the first time, there is no doubt who calls the shots in your life.”
What does that look like?—to be third-trimestered with the Holy Spirit? Paul tells us in Galatians, Chapter 5, when he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” It’s no coincidence that the leadoff batter to the list is love. First Corinthians 13—that great passage that some of us had read at our weddings—
—Paul actually says, “Now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
One scholar says that “Love is the MVP of all New Testament virtues.” Jesus would say it this way, in John 13, “By this will all people know that you are My disciples,”—not by the arguments you have on Facebook®, not by the latest book you’ve read, not by your ability to pontificate on fine points of theology—but by this will all people know that you are real-deal followers of Jesus Christ—“it is by your love.” An unloving Christian, in so many words, is an oxymoron; it is a contradiction in terms.
The New Testament is clear: “To be followers of Jesus Christ is to be people radically marked by love.” The primary human relationship—the theater upon which love is to be acted out—is in our marriages.
It was Robert Smith, Jr., who said, “Every New Testament point has an Old Testament picture.” The New Testament point is: “Love,” “Love,” “Love.” If that is the primary fruit / the primary evidence that I am marked and dominated by/third-trimestered by the Holy Spirit, then I need to be real clear what love looks like. To help us with this, I want us to come to Hosea, Chapter 3. I want to read the whole chapter to you—chill out; it’s just five verses. [Laughter]
And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is,”—not used to be / is; not was / is—“‘an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”
Verse two—please note the specificity here. We’ll unpack it:
So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days.
God comes to Hosea one day and He says: “Hosea, I have a problem. My problem, Hosea, is I have entered into holy matrimony with My people Israel. I have exchanged vows with her.” This is what the Jews call hesed: “I’ve entered into covenant, not a contract.” Contracts are performance-based. Contracts are: “You do your part, and I do my part.” Contracts are 50/50 propositions. You’ve heard the line: “Anyone who says they’ll meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance.” [Laughter]
So God says, in so many words: “Hosea, I have a problem here. I’ve entered into
hesed / I’ve entered into covenant with Israel; but here’s the problem—Israel, My bride, keeps cheating on Me”—
—His words—“by whoring after other gods. Here’s My problem, Hosea—My problem is that, in My holiness, I will not allow myself to divorce My cheating bride. I need her to know I am with her ‘ride or die.’ I need her to know that this relationship isn’t quid pro quo. I need her to know that this relationship is not contractual / it is not performance-based. I want to submit this to her—that I am with her regardless of how she acts or does not act.
“So here’s what I’m thinking, Hosea. I’m thinking that I want to use you as my divine show-and-tell for the profound depths of love that I have for her.
“I want to use you, Hosea, to show my people that My love has no statute of limitations, that there is nothing they can do to get out of My love. So here’s what I want you to do, Hosea. I know you just graduated from seminary—got the M. Div.; just got called to your first church, Hosea; and I know you’re single; you’ve been crying out to Me for a wife. I have one picked out for you.” [Laughter] “Well, who is she?!” “Her name is Gomer, and she is an adulteress.”
I can see Hosea’s countenance now dropping: “Wait a minute, God. I’m a preacher. That’s a strange sight, God!” God says, “That exactly the point; because I’ll show you a stranger sight—Me, a holy God, with you.
“Because remember, this marriage is an illustration to communicate deep truths about Me and My love for My people. Hosea, you need to know, your marriage isn’t ultimately about your marriage, or your happiness, or your reputation. Your marriage is an illustration to communicate eternal truths to a dying world.”
I think that’s a great place to park and send you a good old text message: “Your marriage is more than just paying bills! Your marriage is a lot more than fulfilling your dreams, or your happiness, or even your holiness. Your marriage is to be a divine
simile / a divine metaphor that communicates the power of an eternal God loving through two flawed individuals in the power that could reach to a dying world.” [Applause]
“So here’s what I want you to do, Hosea. I am calling two profoundly different people—the preacher to exchange vows with the prostitute—and the only thing I’m asking of you, Hosea, is to love her. I’m not asking you to change her. She has one Savior, and it isn’t you! I’m asking you to receive her as is; and to love her, exuding the power of My Spirit; and leave the results to Me.”
Marriage is a joint venture between two radically different people. It’s just amazing how different my wife and I are and how different you and your spouse are—
—I mean, different philosophies on how to squeeze the toothpaste. One of us does it properly—from the bottom up—and the other improperly. [Laughter] God’s goal for marriage is oneness, not sameness. So the dance of marriage becomes: “How do two incredibly different people”—and some of those are just natural differences / others of those are differences that arise out of brokenness—“How do two radically different people pull off oneness without trying to clone each other in their image?”
Well, you must rid yourself of any messianic machinations that you are the fourth member of the Trinity. [Laughter]
Breathe easy; God does not expect you to change your spouse, but to love your spouse.
Bob: Well, that’s Part One of a message, “Marriage Lessons from Hosea,” from our friend, Bryan Loritts. We’ll hear Part Two of the message this week.
You know, I think it was maybe a paradigm-shifting moment in our marriage when Mary Ann I both realized that different isn’t necessarily wrong—it’s just different. Now, Mary Ann is always too quick to say, whenever I say that—I say, “You know, different isn’t always wrong; it’s sometimes just different,” and she says, “Sometimes it is wrong.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; selfishness called anything—even called “different”—is definitely wrong.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: Yes; I think, Bob, we’re attracted to one another because we’re different; then we marry because we’re different; and then, unfortunately, many divorce because they’re different and their differences are repelling them from one another rather than embracing the differences and celebrating how your spouse complements you and how he or she has broadened your world.
Bob: When we learn to appreciate and value each other’s differences, we’re better together, with that broader perspective, than if it’s just one of us alone.
Dennis: And here’s what I’d say—I close with this illustration. There was an anthill that, all of a sudden, felt a thud. The guys crawled out on the outside; they spotted a golf ball. The guys on the outside went back down and said: “Hey, there’s a golf ball. You guys need to hide for cover.”
Bob: These would be ants?
Dennis: These are the ants—they’re talking to each other.
Dennis: And so the golfer got there—and nothing disparaging, Bob—but he played golf a lot like you. [Laughter] He swings here—and doesn’t hit the ball—and hits the anthill and scatters ants everywhere. He squares up again to hit it. He swings again, and hits the anthill and misses the ball again.
The sound of dying of ants is everywhere. One of them turns to the other and says, “What are you going to do?” He said, “Well, I don’t know; but if we don’t get on the ball we’re going to be in trouble.” [Laughter]
Now, truthfully, there are a lot of listeners who need to get on the ball or they’re going to be in trouble.
Bob: Yes; yes.
Dennis: They need to take a message like today and apply it.
Dennis: Express your appreciation for your bride. Tell her you’re glad you married her, and then maybe articulate some of the ways that her differences have brought appreciation of some of the finer things into your life.
Bob: We still have Part Two of Bryan’s message that we’re going to listen to tomorrow; but if our listeners have never been through FamilyLife’s Art of Marriage® video series—either as a small group or there’s an expanded version that you can do as a weekend retreat or as a Friday night/Saturday marriage event in your local church—Bryan Loritts is a contributor to The Art of Marriage. You can find out more about this video series when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
By the way, Bryan and his wife Korie are also a part of our brand-new Art of Parenting™ video series. It has just been released; and again, you can find out more online about both The Art of Marriage andthe Art of Parenting when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any questions: 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, I want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you we’ve already heard from this month, who have contacted us and said, “We’d like to be Legacy Partners with FamilyLife®.” Legacy Partners are people who, on a monthly basis, help support this ministry financially. You guys provide the financial foundation for all that we do, here, at FamilyLife. During the month of May, we’re hoping that 300 new families will join us as Legacy Partners. That would be six from every state in America—that shouldn’t be too tough; right?
And we’d love to think that you would be one of the six from your state who would become a new Legacy Partner. When you join today, a couple of things: first of all, your donations for the next 12 months—every time you make a monthly donation—it’s going to be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of a half million dollars. We’ve had some friends of the ministry, who have said they want to help us recruit new Legacy Partners, and they’ll match your donations in the first year of you being a Legacy Partner.
In addition, we’ll send you a certificate so that you and your spouse, or your kids, or friends you know—whoever you’d like to use it for—can attend one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. That’s our gift to you when you become a new Legacy Partner. Would you join us, here, during the month of May?—become a new Legacy Partner and have your donations matched, dollar for dollar, for the next 12 months? You can find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to become a Legacy Partner.
You can also have a onetime donation matched during the month of May. If you have been thinking about financially supporting this ministry, now’s a great time to do that. Again, give online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate.
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’ll hear Part Two of Bryan Loritts’ message about “Hosea, and Gomer, and Us.” I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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