After a weekend of summer camp with my church’s Aletheia Fellowship, I’ve yet again been reminded about dating/courting within our church (fellowships) and how unwelcoming the environment at Jaffray is for dating/courting relationships.?? It makes relationships very hard to talk about between people within the church, not to mention start or maintain one.Like one of my t-shirt’s says, “I’m simple.?? It’s complicated.”Ok, maybe you”ll disagree with the “I’m simple” part, but that’s not my point.?? The fact is, that the environment fostered at Jaffray hardly lives up to being seriously considered as a community of faith.?? I’m not trying to bad-mouth my church here, but I am stating that there is a dire need for a genuine community of faith, that is united in one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.?? While relationships are often talked about, like via workshop at summer camp this weekend, it is rarely discussed between members.?? It is a taboo subject to talk about how each other feels (about others / likely ‘candidates’ in the church), as if??it’s a shame to talk seriously and??openly talk about where we stand personally in terms of dating/courtship.How did it get this way??? I’m not sure… it could have been laziness or??complacency.??????My generation of 22 year old and older could very well be considered responsible for this lack of authenticity in our fellowship, prayer and worship life.?? We can gossip all we want, but honest discussion and prayer about what is REALLY on our hearts has been neglected.?? I know this by what people talk to me about, and what I talk to others about… and what others ask me to pray for them about.Small talk.?? Surface things.?? Separation of church and your private (dating/courting/family) life…. as if it is not important.This all brews an environment of anymosity and reticence… and in essence, I find us setting ourselves up for a fall.?? Why??? Because it’s not really a community of faith.?? We don’t support each other in our relational/emotional needs; we don’t seek the help, wisdom and prayers from the body; we don’t tell each other what’s really bothering us, we don’t pray for what really matters.?? All we talk/pray about is work, school, job searching, ilness/death of family/relatives,??and as of late, the apostasy of the Emerging Church movement.?? Maybe I’m exaggerating, or maybe I just don’t see things clearly and making a huge assumption.?? But my assumptions here are based upon hearing (this weekend) what is really bothering some (brothers) at church, and knowing what really bothers me in my heart.I can tell you for certain that nobody in the so-called community of faith at my church knew any details about the breakup and hell I went through last year.?? A few members on my worship team may have gotten to hear the basics as I requested for prayer during worship practices, and less than a handful of friends know anything about it from my mentioning after small talking became less small.?? I’ll be honest–I found no support from the church or church friends when I was dating, and after breaking up.Nobody asks; nobody tells.We can talk & learn all about the Biblical principles of “it”, but never talk about what is actually going on between each other.?? This is the main thing that makes me furious–the lack of genuine, authentic friendships where we can talk about things openly.?? It breeds a pseudo-community of faith where the community does not actively support its individual parts.?? And if it is, it’s in the smallest of cliques and not the larger community.?? It’s like, we have cell groups to support married couples but no support for those (contemplating) dating… here I find our failure in the singles ministry, or rather, the lack of one–and the signifiance of this is neglect is only revealed when colosal disasters/heartaches happen.??Within the??younger generations of our church English congregation, seeking romantic relationships between church members will be complicated for a long time, in as far as the forseeable future.
I can testify that I’ve tip-toed into this realm of trying to start something, but only to get burned by the level of (or rather, the lack of) honest conversations about each other’s feelings and positions; we grow up together but can hardly say that many of us are??good, good friends.?? Other than 2 married couples and 1-2 longterm dating couples in our English congregation (not including our intern), stepping into the realm of possibily dating??is??tremendously complicated because there are too many issues in having a relationship with somebody from church.?? (Many of us have grown up together, know each other’s parents, and even have each other’s general history like the back of our hand).?? I know many of us, especially the??teens, are scared off by this, since there’s??bound to be gossip/rumouring on the girls side & the??guys just seldom talk about this stuff.?? So when somebody does speak up and feelings aren’t reciprocated, “silent treatment” or??weird feelings, etc.??are likely to ensue.?? If parties invovled are not mature, it can cause dissension in the Body of Christ….which really sucks, sinice it’s all preventable.I also find that the few public visible relationships I mentioned??in our church have??set a bad example for the younger folks, albeit unknowingly and even unintentionally.?? It would seem that your first will be your last, that it’s easy and there are no serious trials and hardships in relationships… but stastically and in reality, that is not the case. People end up believing and hoping for something that isn’t possible, setting oneself up for a fall when it doesn’t work out like you thought it would.What is wrong with this picture?Are we not all God-fearing, worshipping, praying Christians who seek Him and His righteousness first in all things, and know + proclaim that Christ is our first love, that God is the only thing that satisfies us????? If all of us are God loving, Bible believing Christians who have been saved and forgiven by Christ’s atoning sacrifice–why do we still live this way and why do we still do fellowship/church in this manner??? What holds us back from being a genuine community of faith, if we all know the Biblical principles of manhood and??womanhood, sacrifice and submission?Why in the world are things the way the are?Why do I say all this??? Because I can’t help but be humbled by how Scripture commands us to live in a way completely different than the way we are living… and I find that we have failed miserably in obeying His Word, to the point that we are barely trying–and I am partly responsible for this also.“A community of faith that glorifies God and edifies others.”
Hebrews 10:19-25Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.????And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The person and the work of Jesus Christ–our High Priest–has shed His own blood to redeem us from sin and shame, and to win our access into the Father’s power and presence; he became the penal substitutionary sacrifice for us–once for all–so that we could be forgiven, cleansed, that we could have a clear conscience, that we could be accepted by??Holy God.The implications of what Jesus has done for us is huge.?? Since Christ has accomplished our salvation through His sacrifice, and since we have new life in Him–let us do what He has called us to do as a response.?? Since God has given us revelation of who He is and what He has done, a response is demanded;??worship is required.Christ has sacrifice has ushered us into communion with God the Father, into community fellow believers.?? He designed our Christian live to be lived together with other Christians;??salvation is bigger than just me myself and I.????And this why I think the new life that Christ has graced us with is supposed to be a life lived together.?? A life where we care for??one another together, encourage each other together, guard one another together, and grow together.I’m not saying that we have to tell each other (or??the pastor)??every nitty gritty detail about every date we go out on; nor am I saying that we should gossip.?? I’m just saying that we can and should keep each other more accountable, to pray for each other continually in these matters of courtship and marriage, talk and discuss what really matters/bugging us.?? Because the gift of singleness is the exception to the rule; because before there was even women in the world God put in man the feeling of loneliness and the need for intimate companionship.?? Because we shouldn’t just need each other when we are in troubling times… because I think we could care and encourage one another before we experience hardship, before the real-life issues hit us–because we can better help and prepare each other for the obstacles ahead.?? I’m sure life is more than just school and work–but too often, that’s just what we talked about.I think that when Paul speaks about becoming a man and putting away his childish ways in 1 Corinthians 13–he exhorts us to a 3-fold maturity: speech, thought and reason.?? He testifies that when he was a child he talked, thought and reasoned like it…but when he grew up, he put gave up all those childish ways.?? God calls us to growing up (which is different from growing old) to full maturity: in speech, thought and reasoning.?? I fear that we have put on a mask, a face of maturity that is seen to others in our actions and speech (maybe even in??our thoughts shared with others)…but all the while,??our reasoning is still immature and childish.?? I fear that some of us may even be serving the community with our God-given spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12), but in the midst of it, doing so without true, agape, phileo love (1 Cor 13).?? I feel compelled to remind us today, that it’s all useless–all our acts of service and gifts of the spirit–if we have not genuine, authentic love for each other.?? Because Christ first loved us.From hearing and praying about such dating/courtship issues for other church brothers over summer camp, I find myself in a position mentorship and discipleship.?? There are a good bunch of younger guys at church who are experiencing things that I’ve “been there and done that” already.?? In my teenage days, I had Pastor Ben to walk and talk me through, and the younger guys (and gals) lack such mentorship.???? I hope that in the near future I can help give the guys the same kind of mentorship that I had received in my younger years.?? That we can care, encourage, grow and guard each other together.