***Today's devotion is written by Pastor Benjamin Meyer, husband to contributor, Christine***
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
(1 Thessalonians 2:8)
As Christine and I were planning our wedding, we were considering what hymns and Scripture readings we would like to include in the service (a Christian wedding after all is a worship service). We read through many passages and talked about music that we liked. I was the pre-seminary student, but she is the one who brought up this verse from 1 Thessalonians.
At the time, the idea of sharing our lives with others meant, at least in my mind, that we were glad to have the opportunity in our wedding to have the Gospel of Jesus shared and to share our lives with those who came.
Little did I know how true this verse would be for us and our marriage.
In the years since we've been married we have been sharing our lives with others constantly. At seminary, we shared our lives with my brother and his family as well as others who were also going through seminary at the time. On vicarage, we began to learn what it was to share our lives, perhaps most directly through the birth of our first child. When Timmy was born, we chose to have him baptized on a Wednesday night (since we had services every Wednesday) rather than on Sunday (when there were three separate services) so that we could share this wonderful event with the entire congregation.
Since I became a pastor, Christine and I have continued to learn the truth of these words. As a pastor and pastor's family, there is little choice but to share our lives with those whom God has given us to serve. You cannot be detached, rather your lives become integrated with the lives of those around you. I share the Gospel with my congregation, but we also share our lives; the hurts, the joys, the hard times, and the good times.
St. Paul shared his life with those whom he served, I seek to do the same, but this is something that is for all Christians. We are called by God to share our lives with each other; we are given to care for each other, to support each other, to hold each other accountable, to be there for each other. This really isn't an optional thing that we can choose to be a part of or not the be a part of. Rather, this is the reality of the church, the reality of the "life together" that God has given to us.
As Christ gave His life in service to us, as Paul was pleased to share his life in addition to the Gospel, so we too are called to share the Gospel and our lives with one another. For in Christ there isn't separation and isolation, but unity and community.