Don't Let the Love Wane: Long-Term Commitment to a Local Church
I heard a preacher say, "I love the mundane aspects of the local church." I thought about that statement, and the thought of a bride/groom on their honeymoon, followed by the life of marriage, came to mind. We have had some new visitors to our fellowship recently. The are people who have been starving for truth and looking for a biblical church. I sat down with a couple this week who have visited for a few weeks and they had such joy and excitement about the Lord's leading them to our fellowship. They couldn't stop talking about the people, the preaching, the life and about Jesus. It was very encouraging to rejoice in what they were sharing.
Then two days later, I met with a couple who has been with the church for years. I remember when this couple first came and I had the same conversation with them as I had with the couple recently. But my conversation with the second couple this time was different. They were telling me they were leaving the fellowship. They talked through numerous things, and after we finished talking and praying I went home and prayed. The thought of the bride/groom on the honeymoon and reality of marriage came to mind.
Being a part of a local church is a responsibility of the believer. Being committed to a local church is the responsibility of the believer. After the excitement of change, and the honeymoon of joining a new biblical fellowship comes and passes, then the reality of marriage sets in. It is here, in this reality of marriage, that maturing and Christ-likeness takes place, but it is here that many people begin to leave and look for the honeymoon again. I take responsibility here for not shepherding well. The couple who had been with us for a few years visited another church the other day. They were so excited about sharing about it. A thought came to my mind, "What will happen when the honeymoon ends with this church?" What will happen when you find out (the reality in every true church), that there are issues, struggles and relationships that are difficult? I exhorted them that it is in the "marriage aspect" that we are sanctified and Christ is glorified. It is pressing in and committing even more when you see the imperfections of your local body, and loving them with the love of Christ despite their imperfections, that God is glorified. It is in committing to serve, and love and pray more when "I don't feel the honeymoon" right now, that God is glorified and we are sanctified.
If the true body of Christ treated their marriage like they can treat their local church, and just leave after the honeymoon, then there would be divorces all over the church.
- Jesse Barrington
HT: Mack T