Love the Church!
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I love the church!
I’ve noticed in my life that the people I admire and look up to have one thing in common—they love the church. What do I mean by that? Well, they are committed to a group of people who worship God together. As a young girl, I had the privilege of growing up in the church. For me, it was my extended family. I had women and men who poured into my life. I look back now and see how much people sacrificed in their lives to serve others. There was a high commitment to doing life together and also to sharing our faith and Christ’s love with others. Why does this matter? Well, listen to what 1 John 4:19-21 (NLT) says,
We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
Woah. Strong words, right? People who say they love God are commanded to love each other. We are to view fellow believers as our brothers and sisters. We are to love on a grand scale (our neighbors) and on a more intimate scale (our brothers and sisters—our church family). It’s that simple. To love God is to love the church. To love God is to love other Christians. There’s no getting out of God’s family. The good thing is that it’s not something you have to muster up all on your own, but rather the reason you love others is that God loved you first. The church, this family of God, this often dysfunctional messy group of people, has a very important role to play. Jesus says in John 13:35,
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
So people who love the church are showing the world that they love God. It’s a choice to love. It’s not always easy, and frankly, it requires time and commitment, and a willingness to put others before yourself. Lots of things have changed in these last few years with the way we do church, whether it’s in smaller groups or online or limited gatherings. But one thing remains the same. We are to love the family of God, our brothers and sisters. This is evidence that we love God.
I can honestly say that the people I admire are people who love the church, and I believe that the church, every unique expression of the local church scattered across the globe, is truly the hope of the world. Do you believe it? If you do, then how are you doing at loving those brothers and sisters God’s placed in your life? Are you spending more time complaining that it's not meeting your needs? Or that you don’t like the music or the messages?
Take Jesus' words to heart. Love what He loves. Love your brothers and sisters. Be the kind of person that people say, they clearly love God, look how they love each other. This is the heart of God and that’s courageous living.
Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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