Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Wednesday’s I try to focus on the Church. This week I am taking a look at Surprise! I Love My Amazing Church.
I say I love my church, but do I? Do you?
Let’s take a walk and discuss this issue. Since it’s a sensitive subject I will deal primarily with what we should be doing, not with I’m doing.
What is Love?
- I ask that first because people today don’t know what is love. Let me begin with what it isn’t. Love is not Do this for me and I’ll love you. That’s lust or Hollywood love. Did you know that the word love meaning lust is not in the Bible. Other words are used to describe lust.
- Love is not you did something for me therefore I love you. It is very close to the previous love I mentioned, so we’ll just treat it as two sides of the same coin.
Then there is Brotherly Love.
Brotherly love is in the Bible and it is found first in the Gospels. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
That command is repeated throughout the New Testament. In Greek it is Phileo or brotherly love. It is never used in a command to men to love God. Rather it is used as tender affection one for another.
Do we practice tender affection one for another. I see this in two practical applications.
- First there is love for all men. As a Christian we should love our fellow man. That does not mean to overlook his faults. The world teaches that love means to accept the whole person, including the parts we don’t like. But that is not in the Bible. In fact just the opposite is spoken of. If we love our fellow man than we should be willing to warn him when he is doing something that might bring the judgment of God upon him. That is one motivation for soul winning; to go out and warn people of judgment and to tell them of Jesus Christ who died for them.
- Second there is love for other Christians. This type of love involves fellowshipping with the brethren. It is said you are known be the company you keep. We should be spending time with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It also carries the meaning of helping them. While this aspect can also be used in our love for all men, love for the brethren takes it to a higher level. At this level you are willing to go the extra mile. Why? Because this man or woman is a fellow Christian, a believer, a born again child of God. And God wants us to be a conduit for Him to bless them. Do we practice that?
There is Sacrificial Love.
The love that exists between a man and a woman is said to exemplify the love between Christ and His Church. In Ephesians 5:25-29 we husbands are told to love our wives as Christ loves the Church. What a great love that is.
This is called in Greek ‘agape’ and is defined as “the attitude of God toward His Son.” But it goes further in that it is God’s attitude toward all men generally as expressed in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Then there is His love toward Christians in particular as seen in John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
In John 3:16 God so loved the world that He was willing to sacrifice His Son that anyone could turn to Christ and be saved because Christ died for them. It is the Good News that has turned this world upside down. It is because of God’s love toward me through His Son Jesus Christ that God extended to me His hand on May 9, 1973 and pulled me out of the miry pit and saved me for eternity! And if you’ve received Christ as your Savior, He’s done the same for you.
But according to Ephesians God wants us to love our wives as Christ loved the church! That means ignoring hurtful words; that means loving her in spite of any faults she may have. And by the way, wives are suppose to love their husbands. It would appear that our marriages are to be pictures of Christ and His Church.
So How Do We Love the Church?
This is extremely hard. But we are to be obedient. If you follow that out it implies at least two things:
- Obey the Word. God has filled His Word with commands for us to follow. Not only commands but principles that He expects us to use in our lives, our marriages, our careers, and our worship.
- Obey the Pastor. If obeying God’s Word is difficult obeying God’s man is even more difficult. Why? Because pastors are men, fellow humans with failings. And when you are in the church you get to know your pastor and his faults. Yet we are called to obey him in the things that are in the Word. That is key. It does not mean obey your pastor when he tells you to go do thus and thus. There is always the Word of God. If he tells you to do something contrary to the Word, you don’t do it. But you better be sure of where you stand.
God created the Church for His people. We are strongest when we attend church faithfully. But He didn’t command us to go to church, sit in the pew and do nothing. God has something for all of us to do. His callings upon our lives are not eternal. He may call us to serve in a particular area and later call us to another area. That is His prerogative.
I have used this illustration before. Ushering is an area of service. You can even find verses related to ushering in the Bible. It is a time honored ministry and it is an important ministry since the usher is usually one of the first persons to meet you at the church door. He welcomes you, he helps you find a seat, and he, hopefully, is a godly example. But should everyone aspire to be an usher? When I first got saved I was soon asked if I would usher. I promptly said yes and then went home and asked for God’s blessing. What did I do wrong? I didn’t check with God until after I made the decision. Throughout that whole year I felt miserable. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I had dictated what ministry I was going to practice.
When the following year came up and I needed to make that decision again, I did it right. I went to God and asked Him if it was where He wanted me to serve. I’ve been ushering ever since!
Now some people contend with me that we should start serving immediately as a walk in faith. And to an extent I agree. If you walk into the church and see trash on the floor. You don’t need to pray over it. You pick it up and get rid of it. But performing a service unto God, whether it is ushering, singing, working in the sound room, typing, accounting, etc., is something you need to have God’s approval. Put Him first!
It is not a walk of faith if God isn’t first in your life.
Another illustration of godly service. I was visiting a church and the woman who was obviously their best singer stood up. She announced that she wasn’t singing that day not because of sickness; not because she had to leave suddenly, but rather because she didn’t feel spiritual that day. She made is sound spiritual, but it was selfish. We are to serve God where He puts us, as long as He puts us, and as long as He enables us.
Do we love God enough to serve Him in the church?
Following God includes obedience and service, but I’m including it here as it pertains to our personal life. We are constantly being attacked by the world with ungodly temptations. Sometimes they come dressed as godly and sometimes they make no effort to disguise themselves, but they are still temptations.
God left us in this world to be a light but we have to be strong and keep that light visible. It is a dark world out there. Wickedness abounds.
I have not found a magic formula to keep away from temptations. You can’t. From the time you get up in the morning and the time you go to bed there are manifold temptations. Some are sly, some are sneaky, and some are bold.
I have found that spending time in God’s Word and in prayer strengthens me when I’m weak. It is like having necessary and healthy food. It doesn’t guarantee godliness or health, but it sure helps! And just because you walked with Christ yesterday doesn’t mean you will today. He’s always there willing and wanting to hold your hand, but you have to let Him.
We need to make a practice of following Jesus in all areas of our lives. If we practice that then Jesus will walk with us and even carry us on occasion.
Do we love God enough to allow Him to direct our steps?
Why did I call my church an Amazing Church? It is simple. My church and any church that loves and serves God has the power of God upon it and is therefore Amazing.
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.