February 8

Loving the Church, Part 3

Galatians 6:10  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

I Thessalonians 3:12  May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

How does the word “especially” in Galatians 6:10 make you feel? If we have a hard time loving the Bride of Christ, the word can be shocking. Even if we don’t, many of us recoil from the idea of having a special love for believers.

There’s something special about the church of God—the people of God. It’s dear to God’s heart, and our love for our Christian brothers and sisters needs to be connected to our understanding of His heart. Acts 20:28 says He purchased the church with His own blood, and at Pentecost, He filled the church with His power. And Ephesians 5 makes clear that the institution of marriage is all about demonstrating how much and in what ways Jesus loves His Bride.

Jesus identifies with His church and considers us closer than we consider our natural families: Matthew 12:48-50: “But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of my father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” We have a family obligation here to love. Remember that the first ministry collections were for the poorer believers in other parts of the world.

Yes, people mess up all the time, yet God in His wisdom still chose to make us an integral part of His plan of salvation. He gives us His authority and calls us the light of the world. He tells us to go out into the world to not only share the good news, but to make disciples of those that hear and respond to God.

This kind of love is only difficult because the church is made of people, and it’s easier to love the church as a whole, or humanity in general, than it is to love individual people. But Jesus died because of His love for individual people, not just a group, and we must set our hearts to love the family of God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to have Your heart in loving Your church. Show me where my thinking and my heart may be off, and help me to have the special love for your church that You have. Thank you!