Love Your Church
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:19)
The local church has been referred to as a “family of faith” and so it is. Like any family, we share together in both our joys and sorrows, trials and difficulties, victories and defeats. It is quite a unique community where strangers gather together and, over time, form an intimate community. People we previously didn’t know, become dear friends who walk with us through whatever life throws at us. And yet the church is more…
The Church is also the Body of Christ, again which is unique. It is not just a gathering of mostly like-minded people who enjoy gathering together and developing friendships. It is the very conveyor of the grace of God to a troubled and needy world. Through the preaching of the Gospel and through the Sacraments, the church provides the very means of the salvation it proclaims. No Kiwanis club or HOA or other community group has this ability or responsibility.
So the Church is family, and yet the church is more than family. It is a covenantal family. This means that it derives its very nature from the nature of its relationship with God. So I urge you, love your family, your church. For if we do not love the Church itself, we will have a very difficult time loving those within it (and outside it).
Here’s the catch though- loving your family is sometimes tough! It’s true in our personal families isn’t it? There are times in every family where tensions and tempers rise. There are times when hurtful words are said or misunderstandings emerge. Family life can be very challenging. It can also be beautiful. Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning celebrations are often among our most cherished memories. Families are places where milestones are celebrated such as when the baby learns to walk, or the teen gets her driver’s license, or the wedding date is set. This both/and, highs/lows characterize our faith families as well. There are sometimes difficulties, hurt feelings, and arguments. There are times when we’re not exactly thrilled to be on this journey with one another. But, we are still family. And the family needs you.
Love your Church. Some people seem to relish in being the church’s greatest critic. Some people seem to have sensed a call to being the Devil’s advocate (hint: he doesn’t need an advocate). That’s really not a good strategy in our families, and it’s not a great strategy in the Church. The church needs members who love her, who long for her (your faith family) to become the bride of Christ. Love your church by being its champion. Care for it, nuture it, tend it, cultivate it.