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News for Thursday, July 31, 2014

Opinion - From Both Sides of the Pulpit
In His Plan God Made Us to Be Matched
By Johnnie C. Godwin
7/31/2014
contributing colmnist, B&R

My diary entry for June 20, 1955 reads, “I feel that Phyllis is the answer to my prayers if I will try to seek God’s will.” I was 18; she was 16. At 15, I had reluctantly answered a Moses-like call to preach God’s Word. To answer that call, I knew I wasn’t meant to do it alone but matched to the wife God designed for me. So I prayed for Him to send that exact mate. He did! Her name is Phyllis.

We married March 1, 1956. Now, it’s 58 years later. God is still answering that prayer for Johnnie and Phyllis to be matched in serving Him. We are not alike — as anyone who knows us would tell you, but we are matched. We fit each other; we complete each other. When you pray down a mate from God, you don’t just get a “helpmate”; you get a “helpmeet.” You get your completion — your complement — who matches you for all life and all of God’s calling.

Where have all the good matches gone? Not long ago, I read a young woman’s anguished query, “Where have all the good men gone?” I wanted to answer by saying they haven’t gone where you’re looking for them. But I didn’t. Pious as it may sound, I first met Phyllis in church. But my first glimpse of her was the night before at a drive-in movie. She was in a car next to mine on a first date with a guy I knew. The next morning I met Phyllis when she joined my church. She didn’t remember me from the night before. But ten days later we were engaged. We married the next year. God had synched Phyllis and me together greater than a super-magnet might have. He made us, matched us, and yoked us richly in love, ministry, and family.

God makes us to be matched in marriage. Adam didn’t have a helpmeet until God made Eve for Him. Ever since then, male and female have been matching up — married or not — and having children so that we’re moving toward 6.5 billion people on planet earth. God’s design to match up couples has never changed. He matches obedient persons to fit His will. In the Bible marriage-matches, I think of Aquila and Priscilla (see Acts 18:2,18,26; Romans 16:3; I Corinthians 1:16-19; I Timothy 4:19). Their vocation was to serve God; their avocation was tentmaking — as was Paul’s trade. This Christian couple had a house church and were strong lay leaders wherever they lived. With their sound doctrine, they privately coached young preacher Apollos to help him get his doctrine straight. Apollos obviously took their counsel and was not offended by it (see Acts 18:24-28).

What a match Aquila and Priscilla made! Paul preferred to use Prisca instead of the diminutive Priscilla. Half the time, Priscilla got mentioned first; and it didn’t seem to bother Aquila. They were a match who cared more about God’s getting glorified than who got the credit in their paired service. When Phyllis and I write something as coauthors, my name tends to dominate first place. We don’t care which is first. But long ago I designated Phyllis as my better two-thirds; and there’s a lot of truth in that. God knows.

God made us to be matched as singles and …. The unmarried are singles but also designed to be matched in calling. Unmarried Jesus had no peer, but He chose disciples. God matched single Paul with Barnabas. Barnabas sometimes got mentioned first and Paul second. But Barnabas never minded playing second chair as long as God was the director and got the glory. When Paul and Barnabas became unmatched in choice of mission companions, God just matched two mission teams: Paul/Silas and Barnabas/Mark. Ideally, marriage is for life; but other pairings go on for all of life.

The New Testament shows us that besides marriage, God designs both individuals and churches to match up and complete each other in obeying His calling. Read Romans 12, I Corinthians 12—14, Ephesians 4 and other texts to see the kind of matching God designs to make His church complete.

Supreme matching has to do with a thing called syzygy. Matthew 11:28-30 accents what it means to be matched in God’s calling. Jesus used the word “yoke” in His invitation to discipleship. Philippians 4:3 uses the same Greek word for “yoke” but combines it with the word for “with” and refers to “Syzygus.” The name Syzygus basically means “Match-maker,” “Reconciler,” or “Yoker.”

Supreme matching is when we receive God in Christ and bear His yoke. He is the matchless stronger of the two in this essential yoke-bearing.

God’s kind of matchmaking is designed to enable us to work with Him to etch His will into all eternity.

— Copyright 2014 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write the author: johnniegodwin@comcast.net.

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