I had the joy of spending an afternoon with our young adult group as we witnessed the union of a dear friend with her long-awaited groom.
It was such a lovely and Christ-honoring day. The couple shared their first kiss at the wedding, and gave hope to their peers ... no matter how long God asks you to wait for your spouse, you never have to lower your standards ... and, it is absolutely possible to remain pure in a biblical dating relationship ... both of which bring the couple to the alter with great joy, anticipation, and obedience as they begin their life together as husband and wife. I must have stopped to look around and take it all in at least three or four times as I reflected on the wonder of how richly God blesses those who walk in obedience to Him and willingly give up their own so that He might be glorified through them. It is a beautiful thing to behold.
Once the service was over and everyone screamed and cheered over their first kiss, we spent the next few hours at the reception. Young and old, saved and unsaved, married and single, new to salvation and mature in Christ ... a complete mix of different people, all enjoying one another as we shared a common focus: a wedding of someone we love.
As I watched and listened to everyone around me, it struck me that this is exactly what the Lord intended for His children. We are not called to walk through life alone, battling, growing, suffering, rejoicing ... we are called to do it together! Funerals, graduations, weddings, the birth of a baby, new jobs, loss of jobs, surgeries, marriage crisis, wayward children, restoration - we need each other for all of them!
I would almost guarantee that half of the wedding guests had very little in common. But you know what? It didn't matter! We had a common purpose for that moment in time, and status, age, interests, and convictions were not up for debate. We just enjoyed one another! There were silly conversations, deep discussions, someone witnessed to an unsaved guest, kids were running everywhere, people were laughing and smiling, and when it was time - they were able to reach into their hearts to share important words of wisdom and encouragement for the bride and groom. No one cared about our differences in those moments - we were just one community, one body, joined together to celebrate two lives. And we will come together again for another purpose - maybe joyful, maybe sad - but we will still be together, interacting and loving one another. Just as God intended.
By the time the bride and groom were sealed shut into their car to drive away for the long-awaited honeymoon, there were just a few guests left. The family, of course, the wedding party, some young adults, and me! We were outside talking and laughing when I noticed one of the girls snapping photos, so I yelled, "Camera! Pose!" (I loathe candid shots when someone captures you with a piece of chicken bulging from your cheek or your face is all screwed up in a sneeze. Lovely.) All of the girls linked arms and posed, or so I thought. As soon as she took the photo I turned around and saw that the guys had hopped in the photo with us. And that is when it struck me once again.
Do you remember the song "One of these things?"
Which of these things is not like the other one,
which one of these doesn't belong?
That is how I felt when I saw the picture on her camera. Here I am in the center of the group - the 41-year-old married mother of six - surrounded by young, fresh, have-their-whole-lives-ahead-of-them young adults. At first it looked strange - but when I left the camera and looked into the faces of my brothers and sisters - it felt RIGHT. I was the same Michelle with them that afternoon as I am with my own peers, or when I spend a morning being discipled by an older woman.
The Lord did not intend for the body of Christ to be divided into age and stage, never to cross paths again. There is a time for both - to be with those who understand where you are and what you need so you can encourage one another to press on. But Scripture is very clear that the older are to invest in the younger, and pour into them so that they might gain wisdom and understanding from those who have walked before. 20 somethings needs to spend an afternoon talking to a retired senior. Singles need to sit at the dinner table of a young family and watch their marriage and parenting relationships. Middle-aged couples need to open their home to teens and young adults and enjoy their energy and enthusiasm while challenging them to be purposeful in their growth and maturity in Christ. And sometimes a 12-year-old boys needs to sit on the floor and build Lego's with a 3-year-old.
God's family looks just like our own families - a mix of personalities and age, maturity and innocence. We do not send the children into another room to open presents on Christmas morning - everyone is together! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and spouses ... FAMILY.
Last Saturday was a wonderful day. Not only did I enjoy the beauty of hearing marriage vows and watching the face of the groom when he saw his bride coming toward him, I also enjoyed the grace of a God who gave me a glimpse of what He intended, and desires, for His children. Community. Interaction. Enjoyment. Celebration. Encouragement. Comfort. Rejoicing. Mourning.
Be at peace with one another –
Love one another –
Build up one another – ;
Be of the same mind toward one another –
Give preference to one another –
Greet one another –
Serve one another –
Receive one another –
Be devoted to one another –
Rejoice or weep with one another –
Admonish one another – ;
Care for one another –
Show tolerance toward one another – ;
Be kind and forgiving to one another – ;
Submit to one another – ;
Comfort one another –
Encourage one another – ;
Be compassionate with one another –
Pray for one another –
Confess your faults to one another –
Accept one another –