This week my wife and I have been married 25 years. 25 years! It’s been quite the ride over those years. We have bad times with jobs and loss of family members. Poor times of wondering if we can cover all our financial needs (most of those 25 years). Blessed times with the birth of our daughters, an addition of a son-in-law, incredible friends and a great church family for the last 24 years.
As in all marriages we have had a good times and bad times as a couple as well. But no matter what, there were two things we were always committed to. The first and most important was our relationship to God. Even though I am the minister, Helene is the spiritual giant in our marriage. She is the first one to suggest we sit down and pray about something. We made a promise at our wedding to keep God first in our lives and she makes sure we keep that promise.
The second commitment was to each other. There is no human being more important to us than each other. Our society has forgotten that concept in a child first, throw away marriage thinking. I love our children, but they move out and it’s Helene and I for the rest of our lives. If she isn’t my first human love, it gets to be a cold lonely home after the children move away.
Then we just seem to have given up on working out our marriage issues today. Counselors tell you that if you don’t feel in love anymore, go find someone who makes you feel alive. Really? Nothing last very long on emotion only. Helene’s parents have been married over 60 years. They are a wonderful example of commitment, loyalty and working through the rough times that all marriages go through. I hope Helene and I get to celebrate our 60th anniversary too.
That has me thinking about life at church. We have ministered to this church for 24 years. In fact, we begin our 25th year next month. I have seen so many come and go looking for greener pastures. I love it when they tell me “Jim, it’s not personal, we just aren’t getting our need met here.” Try telling that to your spouse and see how they feel about that line.
What would happen to our churches if we made the same level of commitment to the church as we have to our spouse? What would happen to our faith if we made the same level of commitment to God as we have to our spouse?
There are a core at our church that have stayed faithful and committed through thick and thin, good times and bad times. They are people I can count on to have my back.; to lovingly hold me accountable, encourage me, trust me even when I screw up. They know my heart and I know theirs; just like Helene and I in our marriage.
People are leaving organized religion because they don’t see that commitment, transparency, authenticity. Can you imagine what the church could offer to people today if we lived up to those ideals? People are so lost, so alone, despite our always connected world. They are longing for deep meaningful relationships. Let’s help them see that is exactly what they can find in Christ…and the church.