As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate how significant it is that the Biblical authors often use the language of marriage when discussing God’s relationship to humanity, and Christ’s relationship to the Church. I remember finding this strange and foreign when I was young, but as I’ve grown in my marriage, the richness of that language seems wholly appropriate in so many ways. Time and time again, I’ve learned that a direct line can be drawn between the depth of my willingness to invest into my life with Kara, and the health of our marriage. Each time I act in a way that reflects the priority of my love for her, our relationship deepens. And each time our relationship deepens, we inch just a little bit closer to living out the desires that God has for our lives as husband and wife. To me, personal investment breeds a desire for closeness and loyalty. And just as that is true in a marriage, I’ve come to see it as equally true in my relationship with the Church. After all, to be married to someone without being willing to engage with, be present with, and serve them is a terrific way to eventually feel no need to be with them.
In the same way, to be a passenger, rather than an engaged member, in a Church family is a proven path to never experiencing the totality of what it I have found investment in a Church family to be healthy for so many reasons. Firstly, it is a joy to have the opportunity to serve God in the unique ways that we have been gifted by God, and to be encouraged by those around us to pursue avenues of service that we may never have thought of on our own. Additionally, I’ve found that plugging myself into the workings of a Church family has slowly eroded my tendency to approach it with a purely consumeristic attitude. As Pastor Bobby says, a life in Christ is the movement away from an attitude of Here am I, and into a life guided by Here are They. I’ve learned the necessity of approaching my marriage with an attitude of service, of leaning away from allowing my actions and attitude to be driven by how I think they will benefit me, and this has proven true in the Church as well. When we serve in the Church, we truly become a part of it. And that leads to an attitude centered much less around what the Church is providing for us, and more around how we can fulfill our roles in the family of God.
And finally, even though being truly involved with and known in a Church family can be difficult and sometimes messy, investing our time and energy will necessarily deepen our relationship with it. We will be encouraged to resist the urge to pack up and run at the first sign of trouble, and instead be willing to do the hard work of staying and fighting for that
There is immense power and value in serving God’s Church, and my prayer for each of us is that we could find ways to use our unique giftings that will enrich our community of faith.