Hello! Ian from sunny Sydney here. In the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on my observations of the group of us who joined Ann and Lynn for a few days of fellowship and attending the Bethel conference last month.
One point particularly struck me: we need each other. Both within the SUMite community and wider church community in which we may participate.
We’ve often talked about the challenges in our situations of being active participants in a Christian community. For many years, in fact too many, I chose to minimise my engagement in church life. As a result, I didn’t develop any meaningful relationships with other believers. I was doing life with Jesus alone.
And it was hard work.
God’s a Community
God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. We were made to be communal. Irrespective of whether we’re introverts and find greater enjoyment being by ourselves, there is a deep yearning with us to become all we were made to be. This can only be realised with others. We limit ourselves, our relationship with God, and our families and friends, if we choose to walk alone.
In addition, the enemy loves those who are separated from the pack. We see it in the animal world. We become easier pickings if we are always walking alone. There’s no natural defensive barrier that being part of a group (even a small one) provides. It’s something the enemy aims to do to all of us – separate us. And we SUMites, in some way, can feel we are ‘automatically’ separated from the church community because of our marriage situation. Once again, I believe that is a way of thinking the enemy wants us to believe.
Yes, there are many challenges with participating freely in a church community, of any size. But we can tend to rely on ourselves when God wants us to depend on Him. I did for years. I allowed myself to believe the lies and was easy picking for the enemy.
I know years back when I joined a prayer team at my previous church, my world changed. And I believe that can happen for all of us. If we surrender to God and let Him take charge.
God Loves the Church
We’re not designed to walk this life as a believer alone. Most of us have our challenges attending a church community due to our marriage. For some of us, over time, it’s gotten easier. I’m in that situation. My wife appreciates how it’s healthy for me and will encourage me to attend if I haven’t for a few weeks.
What struck me with the group that attended the SUMite gathering was that it probably wasn’t easy for any of them to be there. For whatever reason. But they gave it to the Lord and He made a way. He does that. Because He loves community. God wants each one of us gathering with other Christians. Why do I know? Because it’s how Jesus lived.
Throughout most of the gospels, we don’t see Jesus spending a lot of time in church. He hung out with the sick, broken-hearted, widowed, and disenfranchised. He had dinner with tax collectors and the like.
However, he had a close-knit group of friends who were believers. His disciples. That group was large when you add all the others that are mentioned occasionally. And yes, many of his close followers were women as evidenced by those whom the resurrected Jesus first met at the tomb.
God wants us to be in relationship with others. He’ll help make it happen if we give it over to Him. His faithfulness knows no bounds.
For too many years, I sat defeated believing I couldn’t receive the blessings from church community because of my marriage. It’s a lie. God will help us if we give it over to Him. Why? Because He loves the church. He made us to be with others.
Please know that God understands our situations. He really does. And He wants us to meet with other Christians. Maybe, it’s only one or 2 for coffee during the week. Great! Do it. Over time, you’ll see what a difference it makes both for you and your marriage. His ways are not our ways. They’re so much better.
“Living in God’s presence is something we do together. Being connected to the family of God isn’t just an added benefit; we actually need each other to keep living in Him.” – Kenneth Boa
If this post has sparked something in you, please share with us below. If you’re struggling to see how any of this is possible, please share it if you’re able. Perhaps you’re nervous about sharing in the comments. Send an email and only Lynn or Ann will see it. Or message another you know.
There really is a lot of light available in a SUMite marriage … God is so so good and all things really are possible in Him for those of us who believe.
Grace and peace, dear friends