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Monday, May 20, 2013

What Does "CHURCH" Mean To You?

Ever have a scripture you’ve read a million times suddenly take on new meaning?

I recently did… and it blew me away.

I’ve read John 13:35 numerous times. Each time I thought I understood it…The world would know I was a Christian by loving others. 

I thought my acts of kindness, such as giving money to beggars or not yelling at the waiter who got my order wrong-AGAIN, were showing God’s love.

And they were/are. 

But that’s not what this verse is talking about. 

Let’s read it.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (emphasis mine)

Love one another.

I took that in general, meaning -Love everyone.

But in this verse Jesus was speaking to the disciples about loving each other…loving their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

By loving each member in the Body of Christ, the world will see/know/recognize Christ in us.

By loving those INSIDE the church who irritate us, the world will see/know/recognize Christ in us.

By loving other Christians even when it’s not convenient, the world will see/know/recognize Christ in us.

Lately it seems each time I read the NT God is showing me how much we have to actively guard our churches from disunity. It was prevalent shortly after Christ’s resurrection and it’s prevalent now. 

1 Cor 13 is commonly called the “Love Chapter” but when we read the chapters BEFORE and AFTER we see these qualities of love are talking about loving those INSIDE  the church, not just our spouses or the world.

Why do we have such a hard time loving those who sit in the pews around us?

Think we don’t have this issue? Read thru 1 Cor 13: 

It’s not loving to gossip about fellow Christians.

It’s not loving to criticize our pastors when the sermons run long.

It’s not loving to hold grudges.

It’s not loving to be selfish.

The list can go on…and it does- all throughout the Bible.

Christians are called to love the world AND each other.

By NOT showing love to each other, we are misrepresenting Christ to the world (Tweet this). 

Why would the world want to be a member of something that seems broken?

Why would the world want to fellowship with people who are mean and make them feel bad about themselves?

Why would the world want to follow Christ when it seems that those who do are some of the most unhappy people alive?

I’m currently reading “I Am a Church Member” by Thom S. Rainer. So far it’s a pretty powerful book.  

Church members have a responsibility to LOVE each other, to SERVE each other, and to be UNIFIED.

Church isn’t a country club membership where the pastor and staff serve you. 

Church isn’t something to make you feel better about yourself.

Church isn’t a way to heaven. 

Church membership is work…being part of the Body of Christ is work.

Are you doing your part?

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