Originally written May 1, 2017
He was 16 yrs old and scared to death he might die a bachelor as his mentor and 80 some year old friend who he affectionately called Brother Toby was.
Brother Toby was a man in the church my husband grew up in, he was a bachelor all his life. My husband Jeff had looked up to him all his life and suddenly at the ripe old age of 16 my husband decides there is 1 thing for sure he does not want to follow Brother Toby’s footsteps in and that is, He doesn’t want to be a bachelor.
So the story I’ve been told is Jeff begin to pray ” Oh, Lord Please don’t let me be a bachelor! “. It just so happened that Jeff’s home church was without a pastor and Jeff”s dad was the head deacon at the time and therefore, he had all the resume’s of prospective pastors. So, Jeff decides what better wife to have than a preachers daughter and since Jeff was on the hunt, because in his mind, time was a wasting. Jeff decides to sneak into his fathers office and search the family pictures sent with the pastoral resumes to find the pastor with the daughter that Jeff had decided he would marry. It just so happened my father had submitted his resume to the church and I am told, that Jeff narrowed the pictures of the preachers daughter’s down from the top 10, to 5 to, 3 and then you guessed it…… me!
To make a long story short, I guess you could say the rest is History! There were several sets of circumstances but my father ultimately became the pastor and 4 yrs later Jeff and I were married at the ripe old ages 17 and 20.
Jeff was determined that I was going to be his wife, and apparently God was in favor of that because of the circumstances that followed.
You know, this got me thinking……..
What separates those of us who are just attending church and those of us who are being the church? Jeff could of been the typical teenage boy who dated several different girls and refused to look for any kind of real commitment at such a young age. But Jeff was on a mission, He had a what I would call a “God given desire” that he would not let anyone or anything distract him from. The fact is when Jeff heard a group of boys from the church talking about trying to pursue me, he step right up and told them “She is mine, so don’t even bother” (and we hadn’t even met yet!) He often jokingly but rightly tells everyone that he and God are a lot alike, the both loved me first.
See Jeff was determined there was nothing casual about his persecute of me. I think that’s what makes the difference from those attending church and those being the church. Just attending the church, is like casual dating with no expectations of commitment. Being the church is the expectation that God wants to speak to me so He can speak through me. There is an expectation of a commitment and a calling beyond ourselves when we ARE the church. If we are only attending the church we simply check it off our list, like knots on our belt in a dating relationship. We walk out the door after completing our weekly or sometimes semi or less weekly routine. It is like you are saying “I have come and done my religious duty every Sunday and I am done” (ie going and sitting in a pew, then going home to wait to do it all over again whenever the next time that it is convenient)
Being the church is like an all in relationship, it is living a life of faith everyday expecting God to speak to you, so you can share Him with others. It was not uncommon for Jeff to claim his stake in our relationship before we had even met, the very first Sunday my father spoke at his home church. Jeff made it clear under no uncertain terms that he liked me. As my father shook hands with the people as they walked out the front door of the church. Jeff boldly proclaims before my father that ” You are gonna get this church if I have anything to do with it” When my father replies ” Oh yeah? Why?”Jeff confidently responds ” Because of your beautiful daughter” then he turned and walked away. It left my father speechless because I was only 13 yrs old at the time and still playing with barbie dolls.
If we are going to be the church, if we are going to follow in the abundant life God has called us to live. We need to approach it like an all out committed relationship, and in this day and age where, committed relationships are hard to come by. Let me challenge you to give Jesus your all. Like nothing you have ever loved before because He loves you like no one has ever loved you before.God wants to be your friend, He cares about every aspect of your life. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells His people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”. See, He is in a committed relationship with you so much that He gave His life for you. (Which is what we just celebrated a few weeks ago) The question is, How committed are we to Him? Do we use Him like a vending machine and just call on Him when we need something or do we sincerely desire to know Him, are we committed to what His word says, we should do and are we so in captivated in His love for us that our gratitude towards Him pours out of us in the way we live our life?
Let me tell you today, that if you have only been an attender of church instead, of being the church. It is not to late. He is waiting right now with His arms out stretched. He so wants to spend more time with you and He, like my husband Jeff has never given up, even when I was not interested and totally unattracted to Jeff. Jeff never stopped loving me, he never stopped pursuing me and was waiting with open arms when I was ready. Christ is waiting on you today. There is more to this walk with Christ then just attending church and checking it off our list of things to do for the week.1 Cor. 3:16 tells us, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” God wants to speak to you, so He can speak through you, We have a mission to share His love and life with others, but if we don’t really know Him, if we are not passionately pursuing Him. Then we aren’t being the Church, we are simply filling a pew. Go be the Church this week! Because God is passionately pursuing you.