Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Church's Love

This last Sunday I preached at Grace Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio. In preparation for my Sunday evening sermon I invested some study in the book of 1 John on the subject of the fellowship of the church. In 1 John 3:11-24 John writes to the church, re-iterating the command given by Jesus that they are to love one another. In my sermon I pointed out that John elaborates on the church's love: He says that the Church's Love is our Assurance of Salvation (v. 11-15); It is our Action (v. 16-18); and it is Our Obedience to God (v. 19-24).

This small section has huge implications for the church. If we hate our brother, John tells us, then we are not Christians. If we say we love our church, yet do nothing for it (do not attend services, refuse to join the membership, etc.) then we do not really love, for love is an action (see how John defines love by giving us the example of Jesus action of dying on the cross). And our love for our neighbor is obedience to God's law (Love the Lord your God...And Love your Neighbor...).

On the practical level I explained three ways that we can love one another. First, Love by caring. This takes time and energy. It means being more intimately invovled in the lives of the members of your local church. It means women taking women out to coffee. It means men reading books together. It means praying with one another, and visiting in one another's homes. It means, simply put, seeing each other for more than a Sunday morning service. Second, love by Using Proper Speech. What I mean here is that the church is a family, and the way we talk about one another should reflect this type of thinking. It means making membership matter in the church. It means thinking of that man as your brother, that woman as your sister. It means considering the issues in the church to be "family business," and not something to be gossiped about with those outside the body. It means realizing your a family and thinking that way regularly. Thirdly, love one another by preaching the gospel to one another. If we truly love one another we will not simply care about the physical and emotional, financial and social needs of our fellow church members. But we will care about their spiritual well being as well. Preaching the Gospel to one another means asking one another about how they came to know the Lord. It means sharing your testimony. It means singing and participating in the corporate worship service with an interest in reminding your brother or sister that Christ has died for them. It means singing the gospel to one another, taking the Lord's Supper as a reminder of your unity in Christ, and it means guarding one another from sin. In this way you love one another: by urging your fellow Christians to "Keep Believing the Gospel."

Do you love God? Do you love your local Church? John warns us that if we do not love our brothers than the love of God is not in us. Friends, true Christians will love.


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