Have you ever signed up for a two-week trial of a streaming service and then just used a different email address to sign up again after those two weeks were over? Maybe you actually liked some of what you were getting, but you didn’t want to get financially invested—at least not for $10.99 a month.
Hey, I’ve been there. In fact, I worry that any day now someone at the ACC Network is going to catch on to the long string of numbers following “jdgreear” in my Gmail addresses.
This is how many people treat the church: Sign me up for the parts I like, but don’t ask me for a commitment.
Or, maybe they’d compare their commitment to the church to an intramural soccer team. You enjoy it and give it some of your energy. At times it gets your whole focus! But it’s only one night a week, and it’s pretty low on your list of priorities.
Or, maybe it’s more like your commitment to a new season of The Voice: If you’re like me, at the beginning of the season, you’re into it. But if the singers aren’t your favorite or you don’t like the decisions the judges are making (How could you, Blake Shelton?) or you experience the first pangs of boredom, you change the channel.
The Bible says, however, that we in the church are to “love one another deeply as brothers and sisters” (Romans 12:10 CSB). To do so takes more than passing participation. To love one another as brothers and sisters requires wholehearted commitment and persistence.
It requires that you see church not as an event you attend but a family you belong to.
The love at work within the body of Christ should resemble the love at work in a nuclear family.
To love one another within the church takes more than passing participation. To love one another as brothers and sisters requires wholehearted commitment and persistence.
In a healthy family, if your kid causes a problem at school or starts to develop an annoying character trait, you don’t call them in and say, “Well, Franklin, I’m sorry, but it’s just not working out for you to be here anymore. Security is here to escort you out.” You may be tempted to do that, but you don’t because you are devoted to your kids. Even with their faults, they’re family.
In a family, the problems experienced by one family member become the problems of every family member. If one walks through a time of financial burden, the others bear it with them. If someone is rude at Thanksgiving dinner, they still get invited back next year.
(Well, to a point. If Uncle Randy lights your shed on fire and steals your dog, his invitation might get lost. But you get the idea.)
Love in a family doesn’t even need to be reciprocal. If you love your kid and they don’t love you back, what do you do? As a good parent, you realize that you have a responsibility to keep loving them anyway.
C.S. Lewis said, “Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity.” Love is constant; it never changes because of circumstances.
That kind of love is best expressed by the church as it treats each other like family—bonded together for life, through thick and thin, without conditions or exit strategies. That kind of love will never be wasted as it shows the world how Jesus has loved us.