If you’ve been following me anywhere on social media, you’ll have seen my #lovemychurch posts – and I really do! And my church really is pretty fab – though obviously not perfect (because none of us are😀).
But I love my church not because of how fab it is. I love my church first and foremost because of what it is.
This is something God has been teaching me in recent years, drumming it into my head more and more – it’s stuff I already knew, but I needed to have it spelled out to me so that it would really sink in. There’s a difference between knowing stuff in theory and actually grasping it, letting it sink deeply into your heart so that it can change the way you feel, the way you think, the way you act – the Bible talks of being transformed through the renewal of the mind, and this is just one example from my own recent experience.
The thing God has been getting me to grasp more fully? It’s about what church means to Jesus – and by “church” I don’t mean the building, I mean the motley bunch of people who meet together to worship Jesus because we love him, and loving Jesus must include loving his body, warts and all. Not that I’m suggesting Jesus himself has warts😀, but the Bible refers to the church as his body, which is made up of human beings, warts and all.
Jesus himself commanded his followers to love one another. And it’s not about a fuzzy kind of love, it’s about a seriously real, self-sacrificial love: the love that Jesus showed for us! That’s a love that meant he was willing to die an excruciating death for us – it doesn’t leave me room for being petty about the song I didn’t like or the colour of the carpet or the slightly insensitive thing that person said…
It’s not easy, practising that kind of love. I do keep failing, but trying and failing is a lot better than not trying at all – and I am better at it than I used to be. And anyway, not trying just isn’t an option for me – Jesus is the Lord of my life, and he didn’t just suggest it as some kind of optional extra – he commanded that we do it.
So, while there’s tons of stuff I enjoy about church, tons of good I get out of being there with my brothers and sisters in Christ, worshipping him together – all of that is not my main reason for going.
My main reason is that I love Jesus, and the church is his body. Can’t have one without the other! And you can’t practise “love one another” on your own! (Also: you can’t practise it fully if you only meet with a small select group of people you get on with really well. Not much of a challenge, that. No, it’s in bumping into each other’s sharp corners that this love is powerfully and gloriously put into practice, and we get opportunities to be gracious and patient and forgiving!)
If you’re a follower of Jesus, this is a reminder for you.