My wife and I passed through 32 years of marriage a month ago.  Hard to believe–32 years.  Honestly, it feels like 22.   It’s been over 3 decades of togetherness full of events, celebrations, mishaps, misunderstandings, surprises, delights and encounters.  What’s held us together?   Well, I guess you can call me an “old dog”.  I believe in loyalty.

There have been times when the marriage has struggled.  My wife has put up with a lot from my end, but she’s never quit.  And I think if she were writing this she’d say “he’s put up with a lot from my end, but he’s never quit”.  Why not?  Because loyalty is a precious thing.

But it’s not a blind thing.  It’s a loyalty to something that we believe has great value.  Sometimes the value is lacking and needs enhancement.  So, we work at it. Sometimes the value is self evident and we just enjoy it without care or concern.  But intrinsically, we believe marriage is valuable so we work at it regularly to sustain it.

I see the church in the same way.  When I say “church” I talk about the experience of congregating together.  I believe it has value.  I have been doing it for over 40 years now–probably close to 50 Sundays a year.  Even when on vacation we find a place of gathering to be with other Christians for sake of being the people of God together.  Sometimes it’s been a lean experience with lots of room for upgrade.  Other times it’s been heavenly—a precursor to eternity.  We go not because it’s inherently “good”, or “meets my needs”…we go because it is inherently valuable.  If it needs work, we work at it.  The church is something worth working at.  I guess I am just an old dog.

So it pains me when people give up on congregating, or devalue congregating.  We like to think that we can access Jesus without accessing His bride and on paper, that sounds reasonable.  I don’t believe it is.  I think they are a package deal.