Last week we had a family date with new friends.
We arrived at 5pm, left at 11pm, and did not stop for breath the entire night!
The best part?
None of the conversation had anything to do with our hobbies, interests, or what we have in common.
We spent the e n t i r e night talking about - sin.
(I know, you all want to invite us over to your house now, don't you?) <grin>
It may sound strange, but I kid you not. I am not sure how it actually started, but before we took our first bite of the scrumptious dinner prepared for us, the husband was sharing his testimony - which led to sharing marriage struggles they have endured - which propelled Dennis and I to share about our own pasts - which led to all of us sharing our current battles as believers as we seek to honor God and raise our children to love and honor Him too.
The funny thing is, it was not intense or awkward or uncomfortable.
It just felt RIGHT.
And it was refreshing.
At one point, when Dennis was confessing a sin during our early marriage years, the husband looked me straight in the eye and asked me if I had responded to D's sin, with my own.
I was stunned by the question. Not because I was afraid to answer, but because during the worst years of our marriage, when we needed it most, no one was bold enough to ask those questions. Questions that matter. Questions that convict. Questions that change us.
Which is exactly why Dennis and I are so passionate about investing in young couples.
We had no one.
And it hurt us.
This led to a long discussion about the purpose of the Body of Christ.
If we are all seeking the Lord daily,
if we love one another more than ourselves,
if we care about one another's holiness more than whether or not they "like us",
if we are willing to speak truth when a brother or sister is in sin - "He who turns his brother from sin saves his life"
If we encourage one another in the faith, stirring each other up for love and good deeds - daily ...
How different would we be as believers?
If we really, truly took our own faith seriously - AND - took each other's faith seriously - what could we accomplish as a body? Can you imagine?!?
Faithfulness in the Word and prayer.
Children who respect and love their parents.
Purity in thought and deed.
Exercising our spiritual gifts.
Unity. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2
We spent quite some time talking about the "what ifs" of our own lives.
What if Dennis and I had been discipled as newlyweds? How different would things have been?
What if an older man had been in D's face asking him about his priorities, his duties as a husband, his role as a father? How much more would he have grown during those years?
What if I had an older woman pouring into me, teaching me how to serve my husband and meet his needs instead of waiting for him to change?
What if an older couple had taken interest in us and cared about our holiness enough to say, "You are blowing it! Knock it off, stop being selfish, serve each other, and outdo each other in love. NOW!"
What if we had looked at our friends and said, "We want you to hold us accountable. We NEED you to hold us accountable! Ask us anything and everything. Our pursuit of God, our finances, our purity, our viewing habits, our thought life, our words, our marriage, our attitudes, and anything else you see that does not reflect a heart seeking after God." How much more would we have grown spiritually with such Biblical accountability?
We cannot redo the past.
We cannot live in regret or shame.
But we can -
change the future.
Dennis and I are no longer young and foolish.
We have walked through hurts and pain and mistakes in our personal lives and in our marriage.
We have watched others suffer the same.
We have confessed sin and hidden sin.
We have seen the damage of hiding, and the healing of confession.
And we never, ever want to be found hiding again.
The evening we spent with these new friends will not be forgotten.
Their honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to boldly asks what needs to be asked was a startling reminder of WHY the Body of Christ exists.
There is so much beauty, joy, wonder, celebration, and excitement in the life of believers.
Continual reasons to REJOICE and praise the God who created us.
There is so much sin - selfishness, apathy, discontentment and pride - in the life of believers.
Continual reasons to REPENT and praise the God who forgives and shows mercy again and again.
Thank You, Lord for giving us one another for the purpose of sanctification as we run this race together, with our eyes fixed on You, pushing, challenging, encouraging, and helping each other towards that highly prized finish line where we will finally achieve what we long for - complete sanctification - for eternity!
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3