Loving the Church
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35
The words of Jesus in Matthew 6:9 radically changed the way God’s people are to relate to him. Scripture says, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.'” Through Jesus, we now come before God as his child. And because God is our Father, fellow believers are now our spiritual family. Other disciples of Jesus are our brothers and sisters. And church is now a spiritual family reunion designed to be centered around the love and goodness of our Father.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” We have been brought into fellowship with one another because God loves us. We are children of God because he longs to have the relationship of a father and his children with us. In fact, God created the family unit to be an earthly reflection of God’s heavenly family.
And Scripture is clear that it is incredibly important that God’s children love one another. Colossians 3:12-15 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”
For the church to work as “one body,” its members must commit to loving one another as Christ has loved us. Church requires selfless acts of grace, love, honor, and respect. It requires sacrificial commitment. But the result is a glorious union founded on and fueled by the depth of God’s love.
And the world will come to join our family as we increasingly love one another. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The world isn’t enticed by rules and regulations. And it assuredly isn’t enticed with drama, quarreling, bickering, slander, and division. The world needs real, loving relationship with God and his family. The world needs love.
May you be a child of God committed to the people of God. May you receive and give the grace of your heavenly Father to all those he has brought into your spiritual family. And may you love your brothers and sisters in Christ so that the world might know the love of the Father when it sees you. Allow God to fill and empower you to love the church well as you enter into guided prayer.
1. Meditate on God’s desire for you to sacrificially love the church.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” Colossians 3:14-15
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21
2. Reflect on your heart for the church. Allow God to fill you with a greater desire to love others in the family of God. Repent for any ways in which you have made church about anything other than loving God and his children.
3. Ask God to empower you to sacrificially love others in your church. Ask him to fill you with grace and love for his children. Spend time resting in his presence and taking note of his heart for his people. Allow his heart for the church to become your heart.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
God has placed within you a love that can change the trajectory of human lives. May loving others increasingly become a natural extension of your relationship with God. May you be filled with his heart for others daily as you spend time with him. And may he use you in powerful ways to bring his kingdom to earth everywhere you go.
Extended Reading: Ephesians 2
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