The Lord Loves His Church
August 31, 2014
This morning at church there was a song that had lyrics about hands being held high in worship to the Lord. Standing with everyone else, I looked around and a bit behind and felt great joy to see almost the entire church (at least two thousand hands) lifted in beautiful exaltation to God. I whispered to my husband, “Look at that. That is SO cool.” He agreed. It was really precious. Especially as I felt God’s love well up in me for His church.
Interestingly, Gary’s sermon (which comes after the singing) was about the church. He spoke about how churches and para-church organizations often emphasize either the cause, the community, or the corporation, but how all three are equally important. In regards to the latter, he reminded us that churches should be stable, stable meaning that good financial stewardship is being practiced, that everyone is participating, and that the pastor and the elders are deciding things together while taking into account others and others’ concerns. In regards to community, churches should be places where all who come feel secure and loved, and where everyone remembers that everyone else is still “in process”. And in regards to the cause, everyone should be working to further the Truth and Way of the Lord, being compassionate toward the weak and wounded, but never neglectful in training and putting that training to practice.
The church is Christ’s body and bride. Because of this, we should be careful how we speak about her. Yes, there is the adulterous church and the counterfeit church. But there is certainly the real; and she is not always perfect. She is in process. She is sometimes messed up, limping, or sick. This is because her parts –Christ’s body parts– are many, and they consist of individuals, individuals who are at different levels in their knowledge of the Lord.
Jesus loves His church. He loves individuals. He loves those He is working with –those who have committed themselves to Him, or even those who have hesitantly called out to Him for help. He is tender toward those who are lagging –lagging not because of unwillingness, but because of the weariness of setbacks which life often brings.
Have we ever seen a man who truly loves his wife? Maybe she is a wife who has an illness –physical or otherwise, or maybe she is fine; but regardless, he cares for her attentively and with deep tenderness and patience. Whether or not we’ve ever seen such a man (I have), we can know that the Lord Jesus cares for His church like this, and perfectly so. While encouraging her to get stronger and stronger, He embraces her when she’s broken. He lifts her up, steadies her, instructs her, and waits for her to catch her breath and take the next step. He holds her up as she continues to try and gives her extra-special nourishment until she’s healed.
The church is Christ’s own body. Therefore, we are to love the church, and love the individuals who make up the church. We are to be patient with her, pray for her, help her, encourage her, instruct her, and love her –the bride as a whole, as well as each body part. We should be careful that we don’t speak against her lest we be stabbing / wounding / grieving the Lord Himself. The idea that we are the only ones still being faithful to the Lord or the only ones whom the Lord is using or working with, should be extinguished. We are not the only ones. The Lord has reserved for Himself many more than we realize. True, they may not be perfect yet (and neither are we), but they are cherished by the Lord. They are in His service, or at least getting there, and they are worshipping, or learning to worship, from genuine hearts.
Looking at the sea of raised hands this morning, I was reminded of the immense love, patience, and concern the Lord has for His body –the individual parts, but also the church as a whole.