The topic of marriage has been all over the radar for the McCall's lately...a several-week series at church, deep discussions at home, talks with the kids, and capped off with a covenant renewal service at church later this morning. But also with the topic of marriage has come the topic of whether or not Christians "have to" attend church - or better yet whether or not Christians "have to" attend church to be Christians or to be saved or to "guarantee" their salvation. The answer is "no" - they (we) don't "have to." We should "want to" - and here's why:
A change takes place in a person's life when they accept Christ as their "personal" savior. It means they are no longer lord of their own life but allow Him to be Lord. Their attitude, actions, thoughts, and heart all shift toward the likeness of Christ. We aim to serve like Christ, act like Christ, live like Christ, and dare I say think like Christ...unless!...well, unless that means going to church, right? Truth: Christ is for the church. That's an understatement. Not just FOR the church - Christ loved the church (us) SO deeply that He gave His life for her and commanded that we model that love in our own marriages.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Now, picture this:
If we were to model our own marriage (husband and wife) around the way we view the church, we would be leaving each other left and right because we offended one another or didn't get our way or didn't like the leadership of one another or weren't comfortable with our roles. We would essentially be "marriage-hoppers" much like the way we have become "church-hoppers".
Now, go further:
What if Christ treated us the same way we treat the church? What if His commitment level to us went only as far as our commitment to the church? Ouch. I know for me personally through the years, this puts me to shame because there have been MANY times that I have wanted to abandon ship - and have.
The good news is:
Like it or not, we ARE the church. And our marriages with each other go hand in hand with our marriage to the church. Christ is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride ("Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has madder herself ready." Revelation 19:7). The good news is that Christ IS devoted to us. He IS committed to us. He DOES love us. He DOES cherish us...no matter what!
As Christians (followers of Christ) we should want to love Him in this same way, with this same level of commitment. Not because we have to. Not because our Sunday School teacher from when we were in 1st grade put the ever-loving fear in us if we didn't. Not because our parents made us. But because we cherish His word and we live to love and serve Him. You can't have a fulfilling marriage with your spouse without commitment. Otherwise, it's not a marriage - it's a prostitution. It's the same with the church. What message are we (the bride) sending Christ (the bridegroom) when we say "I'm only going to commit "this" much or only "these" days. How hurtful would that be to hear from your own spouse?
It's not 100% our fault that we don't "get" the whole church thing. I know that when I was baptized at a young age no one explained to me the magnitude of the covenant I was making. I was giving my life to Christ - not just for a season or for a brief period in my life. I was entering into a covenant with my savior to love him and serve him the rest of my life. I haven't fully understood that until the last few years, months, weeks, and even days. I'm thankful to a church that is sending out the truth and helping to mend broken relationships between man and wife, man and church, and man and Christ.
This post was written to you who are believers - who have at some point in your life stood in front of others, was baptized, confessed that He is Lord of your life and promised to commit your life and all in it to Him. I write this to encourage you to find your way back to church. It is full of sinful and crazy people, people who fail daily, who say things they shouldn't, who act like children at times...but people who love the Lord, who forgive easily, who seek to follow Christ, and who are willing to call you family. Churches are full of people (I know, shocker, right?)...but Christ loves the church and calls them together for His purpose.
- ▼ 2012 (8)
- Crystal C. McCall
- I am a local Charlestonian, born and raised in good 'ol South Carolina. I have only been to other surrounding states within a days drive since I refuse to fly in an airplane - so let's see - that includes NC, GA, FL, and I think I may have crossed the border into VA at some point. I've been to the Bahamas 3 times (since you can get there by cruise ship) but one day I hope to visit Mexico. After my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the second love of my life is my high school sweetheart, Matt. We were married at ages 19 and 21 (I'm the younger one) and in the past 8 years have acquired two amazing kids - Sammy and Maddie. We have a fairly new member of the family, Casey, who is a black lab/shepherd/pit bull mix and is very lazy. We "McCall's" have a family motto: "McCall's never give up" (for some reason this has stuck with us all). We all have a passion for music and treasure our family time. Every moment is a gift...