February 6

Loving the Church, Part 1

John 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

There are “trends” in the body of Christ that come and go. Some are good; some aren’t. One trend current at the time of this writing is a tendency to criticize other Christian brothers and sisters easily and without hesitation. (If it’s not the trend when you read this, it will be again.) It must make the enemy happy.

Sometimes we disparage others because we’re simply struggling with our own critical spirit. Sometimes we are so insecure that we fall into the habit of trashing others so that we can feel better about ourselves.

But the “religious” trap we can fall into is to feel that we are somehow more mature because we are beyond other viewpoints or because we feel we have a better way of thinking or acting. Sometimes we mistake pride and judgment for spiritual maturity when we see what others are doing and thinking. We may be right in our discernment, but we can be wrong in our spirit.

I John 4:7-11 talks about loving in the context of God’s love for us. The passage concludes, having set the entire issue against the background of what God did in sending His son, by telling us “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Based on His love for us, we should not be distracted by the sins of others (see Romans 5:8), leading us to criticize. But we should reflect the glory of the great Love Story by extending His love for us to our brothers and sisters. We can still make a judgment call on an issue without condemnation.

There are many reasons to love His church. We’ll go into those reasons in the next few days. But for now, let’s simply look at His command to love.

The next time we are tempted to dump on a brother or sister or group, let’s remember the command to love. It may seem like a good witness to point out the errors of others, as if we are self-proclaimed Defenders of the Faith. But the stronger witness is to admit where something might be wrong, and stay in a spirit of love. Now that’s powerful and can change a life.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for how quickly I can judge my fellow brothers and sisters. Make me sensitive to the trap of trying to be cool and holy at the same time by criticizing your church. Cause me to remember that You based Your command to love on what You did for me and for the rest of the body of Christ, and not on how well we each respond to that love.