In less than 5 months it will have been 20 years since my husband and I launched out to plant City Life Church. What a whirlwind that was: May 19th, 1992, we held our first “Here we are, we’re going to start a church in this city, come meet us!” meeting; May 22 my husband and I graduated from Bible College, May 30th we got married, went on a 2 week honeymoon and returned to begin the plowing/sowing stage of church planting. What makes 2 normally sane people (although that has been called into question at times) DO THAT???
Passion for God and His House. For us, they have always been one and the same. To have a relationship with Christ but not His church is like walking around with a decapitated Jesus as your friend. Not cool. But crazy love for the Two will motivate you AND enable you to do crazy things.
Over these almost 20 years, like most pastors, I’ve had my fair share of “What the heck am I doing here??? And why, please tell me WHY, I’m doing this again?” There was even a moment a few years back at a more challenging time in ministry where I’d seriously contemplated taking a new career path: med school. You know it’s bad when med school looks appealing! Ha! Actually there wasn’t anything really that bad going on in church life – the angst was mostly internal.
I find though that every genuine believer and follower of Christ – pastor, leader, Joe Christian – will at some point, or points, find their passion challenged.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Hosea. (Side note: my all time favorite novel, “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, is an allegory of Hosea’s story. Get it and read it!) Only the grace of God would enable a man to do what he did. It’s one of the more mind-blowing examples of God’s passionate love for His Bride.
Hosea 3:1 NLT
Then the Lord said to me, "Go and get your wife again. Bring her back to you and love her even though she loves adultery. For the Lord still loves Israel even though the people have turned to other gods, offering them choice gifts."
“Love her even though….” There’s a continual love, persistence and faithfulness God asks of us towards His Church, no matter Her failures, Her weaknesses, Her rejection.
“Love her even though…She sometimes has stinky attitudes.”
“Love her even though…She doesn’t perform exactly how you want.”
“Love her even though…She lets you down.”
“Love her even though…She’s challenging to lead.”
“Love her even though…She’s weak.”
“Love her even though…She’s a mess.”
“Love her even though…She’s stubborn.”
“Love her even though…She turns Her back on God.”
“Love her even though…She’s given up.”
As believers we’re all called to be ministers and stewards of the House of God, His Church, His Bride. Our main role: “Love Her…even though…Because She’s still growing up.”
Church life is full of seasons. Some are honestly more challenging than others. I’ve had my fair share of “Love her even though…” seasons. For the record, I’m thrilled to say, THIS SEASON IS NOT one of them! Just in case anyone was wondering.
But just like in marriage, you make the commitment, “‘Til death do us part” – It’s the same as saying “I’ll love you even though…”
God’s Church – His Bride – I don’t believe there’s anything more powerful or amazing on the planet. She is the living, breathing expression of Christ to the world. He’s passionate about Her. He Loved Her – loved you and I – “even though”. And it’s His grace released through the greatest act of sacrifice that we can lean into in the “even though” seasons we face.