Do You Love the Church?
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).
In Eph. 5, Paul identifies those areas in our lives that we must devote ourselves to if we are to be all we can be. He speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives, fathers (parents) and children, as well as masters and slaves. In speaking of the devotion husbands should have to their wives, he compares it to that which Christ has for His church, giving Himself up for her. Certainly, there would be a difference in the world if husbands had this kind of love for their wives, a sacrificial love to put what is best for them first, and if wives would be submissive to their husbands with that kind of love operative for them.
The amazing truth on which this is possible is the example set by Christ, offering Himself on the cross for the sins of the world. In doing this, it was possible for the church, the body of the saved, to be established. No greater kind of love can be known than that Christ offered of Himself for those who would come to Him, and how, by their obedience to His will, would be added by God to the church. When we read this passage, we should focus as much on the kind of love Christ has for us as His church, as we do how husbands should imitate that in their relationship with their wives. Do we love the church as Christ did? Do we imitate Christ when we consider His love for us? How can we be imitators of Christ in loving the church?
If we love the church, we should be committed to keeping its precepts and principles. The letters written in the New Testament about local congregations applies to us today as much as those who originally received those letters. Do we seek to apply God’s will to our lives personally, that we might be, collectively as the church, what He desires? Do we seek purity of life (Matt. 5:8)? Do we encourage each other as we seek to help each other overcome the desires of the flesh and grow in holiness (2 Cor. 7:1)? Do we spend time in prayer for each other, and for the work we join together to do in our community, to offer the world a proper image of what we are to be (1 Tim. 3:15)? Do we assemble together each Lord’s Day, along with other opportunities of assembling, to glorify God, to remember the love of Christ in His sacrifice for us, to worship, and to be edified in the truth (Heb. 10:25)? If Christ loved the church enough to act, to respond to our need for salvation, to provide a way to eternal life, should we love the church any less?
John reminds us of what love does in 1 John 3:16. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” The church isn’t a social club, but the saved encouraging each other in the life we have in Christ, and seeking to bring others to the good news of salvation. Sometimes we can act as if it is something that we can “take it or leave it.” The reality is, if we love the church, we will be active in the kingdom, no matter what. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). Does Jesus and His body have that devotion by us? Being active in the church isn’t an optional extra, but an essential element of our living to have life in the eternal kingdom (Phil. 3:20-21).
The Lord’s church should be precious to us, to have a part in it, a work to do, and the hope it provides. It is the faithful in His kingdom today who will be part of heaven, the eternal kingdom (Rev. 2:10). Will you be part of that number? He gave His life, shedding His precious blood, that we can be part of it. Do you love the church?
μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)