I was reading a post this AM from over at The Resurgence, and it brought to mind the connections between our own homes/marriages and their correspondence to the church.
Here are the basics of the article, which is entitled “Seven ways to destroy your marriage”…
1. REFUSE TO COMMUNICATE
2. REFUSE TO LISTEN
3. ALWAYS ASSUME THE ABSOLUTE WORST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE
4. MAKE SURE THE GOAL IS TO WIN THE ARGUMENT RATHER THAN ACTUALLY SETTLE THE DISPUTE
5. YOU MUST VIEW YOUR SPOUSE AS YOUR ENEMY, NOT YOUR FRIEND
6. FOCUS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ON THEIR INADEQUACIES AND SHORTCOMINGS
7. DO NOT HAVE FUN TOGETHER
The correspondence between the home and church is a clear, biblical, gospel-centered thing…
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
(Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)
So, without over-extending the connection, I believed that the 7 points Perry Noble makes in his article can be applied (if somewhat loosely) to an evaluation of whether or not we are destroying our relationships with the local church.
Let’s take them one at a time.
1. REFUSE TO COMMUNICATE — We tend to be passive…all of us. We too often almost dare others to lead us, inspire us, teach us, awaken us. If you want to destroy your relationship with the church, don’t speak, share, or linger in any setting long enough to feel forced to have to open your mouth.
2. REFUSE TO LISTEN — On the other hand, some of us just talk…and talk…and talk. A sure fire way to destroy your relationship to the church is to refuse to listen to preaching, fellow believers, God.
3. ALWAYS ASSUME THE ABSOLUTE WORST ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE — It’s so hard to believe, but it’s true…some people are just negative about the church. Some just default to being critical about everything going on, particularly leadership. If you want this relationship to fail, keep it up!
4. MAKE SURE THE GOAL IS TO WIN THE ARGUMENT RATHER THAN ACTUALLY SETTLE THE DISPUTE — Community should be marked by sincere relationship, rooted in Christ. But, this is hard. So, to solve that it really is just easier to “win” and “die on every hill” that you choose to fight. This is a good tactic for disrupting the relationship with the church.
5. YOU MUST VIEW YOUR SPOUSE AS YOUR ENEMY, NOT YOUR FRIEND — Now, we may not see the church as an enemy, or do we. If we want to see our relationship with the church fail we should see attending church as the enemy of time we’d rather spend elsewhere, or the enemy of our otherwise “clear” consciences. You may not hate the church as an enemy, but it’s practically the same if you see it as getting in the way of other relationships.
6. FOCUS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ON THEIR INADEQUACIES AND SHORTCOMINGS — Union vs. Management. Some people just assume that leadership and institutions are just by nature corrupt, then they go on witch hunts to look for proof of their predisposition (oh, this is also called “paranoia”). If you want your relationship with church to fail, instead of being encouraged and encouraging, focus on all the mistakes and unrealized preferences.
7. DO NOT HAVE FUN TOGETHER — Yep. The church can and should have fun together. Whether in a corporate setting or in more personal contexts with church family, there should be fun. This doesn’t have to flighty, or it could be. It doesn’t mean that our worship gatherings should be entertaining, but it does mean that it should be fun to be with the body in varied ways, hopefully breaking down the divisions of secular and the sacred.
Well, some of these “connections” with marriage may be a stretch, but it’s somewhat thought-provoking. The bottom line is we just allow ourselves to get lazy about the community of saints known as the church in the same way we get lazy in our marriages. We should be intentional in our most vital relationships as we seek God’s glory in the gospel to be illuminating to them and through them.