Often in marriage compatibility is seen as the goal for a couple. Find your match, learn to love them, then commit to them for a lifetime. It’s not that compatibility has no place in marriage, but prioritizing it over the commitment of marriage misses the mark.
Walter Brueggemann phrases the prioritizing of marriage by saying, “We do not fall in love and then get married. We get married and then learn what love requires.” I’ve shared those words with every couple I’ve had the privilege of marrying at their wedding ceremony.
Though these words from Brueggemann are rarely adopted, they are astounding nonetheless. They highlight the great value of covenants in our lives. Operating in covenant relationship with another is one of the most sanctifying works in life.
Consider how this relates to your interaction with a church. Most often we look for a place that feels comfortable, seeking compatibility. But if compatibility becomes the highest goal, we only massage our own personal bent, rather than allowing the friction of covenant to produce growth.
In his book Uncomfortable, Brett McCracken describes the work covenants do to us:
“Covenants are never easy and rarely comfortable. Every marriage testifies to this, as does the roller-coaster history of ‘prone to wander’ Israel. Yet covenants do something that is far more constructive than anything comfort can do. Covenants challenge us to bear with and sacrifice for the sake of others, for the glory of God” (pg. 183).
Covenants not only connect us tightly with others but also to Christ, who has stayed true to us despite the lack of compatibility. Covenants protect us from allowing our lives to be led by our ever-confused desires.
Yes, covenants present challenge and struggle, but they are the ground in which God cultivates sanctifying growth within our lives. Compatibility has its place, but covenants supersede their importance.
Covenant > Compatibility.