February 16 I Thursday
“And He has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” —1 John 4:21
Community is not easy. We have different personalities, different rhythms and different values that run underneath the surface of our lives. We can bump into each other and bruise or hurt one another. Community can be messy and the Church is no different.
Recent research shows that nearly 40% of Bible-believing Christians no longer attend church regularly or at all. Instead, they practice their faith in other ways. There is a growing trend among people that think they can divorce Jesus from His Church. However, when we read Scripture, the Church is the bride of Christ, the body of Christ and members of His household.
Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” This is how Jesus feels about His bride, those of us who have surrendered our life to Him. He feeds her, cares for her and washes her with water so that He may present her pure and spotless, blameless, without blemish.
Jesus knew the Church full well and loved her still. We see this demonstrated on the night that Jesus was betrayed, right before He and His disciples observed the Passover Supper, the disciples were arguing about who among them was the greatest. Jesus did not respond by beating His disciples up; instead, He showed His love for them by stooping down and washing their feet.
If we are not experiencing the kind and gentle rule of Christ in our life, we cannot love the Church community and may even end up despising the Bride, not because there is something wrong with the Church, but because there is something wrong inside of us. We cannot bring to community what we are not experiencing in solitude. If we are weary and tired of religion, frustrated with community or church life, could it be that we have wandered away from Christ? John writes, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). There is a person in Scripture that we are told who hates the Church—his name is Satan.
May we examine our own hearts and ask ourselves what may be holding us back from community and how we can truly love God and the Church.
Prayer: Lord God, please bring to mind what may be holding me back from community and help me to love You and the Church as Christ loved the Church. Thank You, Lord.