Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10 (NIV).
Jesus loves the church (believers who live as his people under His authority) unreservedly, radically, second to none – like a bridegroom loves his bride. In fact He loves the church so much He paid the ultimate price: “… He gave up his life for her” Ephesians 5:25 (NLT). And His love doesn’t end with what He’s done. There’s what He’s yet to do. When He returns, He’s coming back for the church. He’s coming back to present the church to Himself in splendour (cf. Ephesians 5:27).
So if Christ loves the church, gave up His life for her, and is coming back for her, shouldn’t we likewise love the church and give up our lives for her? Most definitely. But how do we do that? How do we cultivate and nurture love for the church? Here are some things we can do:
Be genuine. Romans 12:10 says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other” (NLT). There are flaky people around who put on facades or hide behind masks. One of the most practical ways you can love the church is simply be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t pretend or put on an act. Be authentic. Be whom God made you to be. Demonstrate real affection, show respect, encourage one another, and do everything for the fame of Christ’s name.
Extend grace. We all blow it. Unless we say, think or do nothing, at some point all of us will say, think or do something wrong. One of the things that saddens me is a person with an unforgiving spirit. For some people, sorry is never enough. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 says, “… May his grace and peace be yours” (NLT). God wants us to extend grace to others as He’s extended it to us. When we were cut off from God – He brought us near. When we were strangers – He made us His friends. When we were dead in our trespasses and sins, with our backs to God and Hell in our sights, He did what no other could or would do – He reached out and saved us. He extends grace for no other reason than that we need it. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Rejoice. God’s Word simply and profoundly says, “Be joyful.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT). But what is joy, real joy? It’s kind of like a long-lasting buzz that God dispenses that’s tied to being part of what God is doing. And it’s knowing that in loving others as Jesus loves you, the world is a better place. Do you have this kind of joy? Do you want to see lost people found, listless people come alive, and unloved people loved? If your answer is no, then you probably need to pray Psalm 51:12: “Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (NLT).
Are you one of God’s children? If you are, then love His church as He loves the church.