Summary: Like the movie “Runaway Bride” many Christians today don’t mind “dating” the church, but they don’t want to “marry” the church. Here are 9 reasons you need to commit to the church for life!
1. During a wedding rehearsal, the groom approached the pastor with an unusual offer. “Look, I’ll give you $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to the part where I’m supposed to ‘be faithful as long as we both shall live’, I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave that out”. He passed the minister $100 and walked away.
2. On the day of the wedding, when it came to the groom’s vows, the pastor looked the young man in the eye and said, “Will you promise to love, honor, and obey her every wish, to serve her breakfast in bed every morning as long as you live, promise always to be faithful, never even looking at other women?”
3. The groom gulped and looked around, and said in a tiny voice, “Yes”, then leaned toward the pastor and hissed, “I thought we had a deal?”
4. The pastor put a $100 bill into the groom’s hand and whispered: “She made me a better deal!”
B. VIDEO CLIP: RUNAWAY BRIDE
1. The movie “Runaway Bride” is about a fictitious bride (Maggie Carpenter - Julia Roberts) who, after leaving three grooms at the altar, is branded "the runaway bride" by jaded city journalist Ike Graham (Richard Gere).
2. Ike goes to Maggie's hometown to report on her upcoming fourth trip down the aisle – from which he's convinced she'll run again, but he falls in love with her and they finally get married, after a little run around the church.
4. I actually have a very attractive niece who got close to the altar two or three times and broke off the engagement just a month or so ahead of the wedding. She finally got married at nearly 40, and just gave birth to a cute little girl. Good ending!
5. The Runaway Bride is symptomatic of many Christians today who don’t mind “dating” the church, but they don’t want to “marry” the church.
6. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DATING AND MARRYING
a. DATING: you’re nominally involved, partially invested, maintaining enough detachment so that if it doesn't work out the way you want, you can hit the door with no lingering obligations.
b. MARRYING: It’s a covenant relationship of devotion, sacrifice and joy. In marriage, you've burned the ships, there's no turning back, and you only have eyes for the one to whom you have pledged yourself.
7. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Statistically, one out of four church attendees are considered "church shoppers," with no real devotion to any particular local church. An estimated 15-20 million Americans have said they are Christians, but don't want to be a part of the church. Around 80 percent of American evangelical churches are plateaued or declining.
C. WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE TROUBLE COMMITING?
1. Time Constraints/ Busy.
2. Had a Bad Experience somewhere else.
3. Think it will make them Vulnerable.
4. Don’t want to feel “Trapped;” to have to go.
D. 9 REASONS TO COMMIT TO A CHURCH FOR LIFE:
I. JESUS DIED FOR THE CHURCH
1. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood” Acts 20:28.
2. Jesus died for the Church. He poured out His life’s blood for the church. If the church meant that much to Him, it should mean that much to me and you.
3. For example, if our spouse really cares about something, if we value them and their opinion, we should care about what they value. The same is true of what Jesus’ opinion of the Church.
4. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Clearly, we should love our Lord enough to love what He loves (the Church), and hate what He hates (sin).
5. If He was willing to suffer and die for the Church, it should rank among the highest priorities of our lives!
II. THE CHURCH = THE BRIDE OF JESUS
1. At the Rapture, Christ is not coming for individual believers, but for His Bride, the Church.
2. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her….that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but…holy and without blemish.” Eph. 5:25, 27. “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready” Rev. 19:7.
3. I have had the unique How can we say we love the Groom – Christ – if we don’t love His Bride?
4. Some of you are about as excited as a sister’s kiss or Spam for Sunday lunch!
III. INVOLVEMENT COMMANDED & MODELLED
1. You’re commanded to by the apostles. “Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Heb. 10:25.