Written by: Monica Prescott
This has been a bit of a milestone year for us. Twenty-five years ago 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 two normal, sane people (although that has been called into question at times) DO THAT???
Passion for God and His House.
For us, the two have always been one and the same. You love Jesus, you love His Church, which is His body. To have a relationship with Christ but not His Church is like walking around with a decapitated Jesus as your friend. Not cool. But if you carry a crazy love for both Jesus and His Church, that will motivate you and enable you to do crazy things.
Over these past 25 years, like most pastors I’ve had my fair share of “What the heck am I doing here??? And why, please tell me again WHY, I’m doing this???” There was even a moment a few years back during a more challenging time in ministry when I’d seriously contemplated taking a new career path: med school. (You know it’s bad when med school looks appealing.) Actually there wasn’t anything really that bad going on in church life; the angst was mostly in my own soul. I’ve discovered that every genuine believer and follower of Christ – pastor, leader, “Average Joe Christian” – will at some point, or points, find their passion challenged.
One of my favourite stories in the Bible is the story of Hosea. Only the grace of God would enable a man to do what Hosea did. It’s one of the more mind-blowing examples of God’s passionate love for His Bride. If you haven’t read the story, I encourage you to do so. At one point in the story, God’s gives Hosea some tough instructions:
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....”
-Hosea 3:1, NLT
“Love her even though….”
There’s a relentless love, persistence and faithfulness God asks of us towards His Church, no matter her failures, her weaknesses, her rejection of us.
“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 disappointed you.”
“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’s hurt you.”
“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”…even though we were dead in our sins; even though we wanted nothing to do with Him; it was our “even though” that caused Him to give His life for us. And it’s His grace that was released through His greatest act of sacrifice that we can lean into in the “even though” seasons we face when it comes to our relationship with His church.