It's been a doozy of a week. Last weekend, when this series started, the family and I were in Buffalo, New York, for the burial of my grandfather. We returned on Sunday, and received the news Monday that John's grandfather has passed away. So John, who had never officiated a funeral in his years in ministry, has now performed two in as many weeks.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
I spoke with a friend the other day who told me he has decided that he's just going to church-hop for the next little bit in his life. He likes going to church with friends at this church, but he also really likes the music at that church. Seems reasonable, doesn't it?
I would argue that such an attitude toward church is not actually loving toward the church, but is more like seeing the church as a kind of cafeteria from which you can choose the items you like best. But, one might argue, if I love God and love my neighbor (the two greatest commandments), is it all that important that I love the church?
Consider this passage from Ephesians. As Paul instructs husbands and wives, he says this:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husband ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
We see here the precious relationship between Jesus and his body, the church. Jesus cherishes the church, he wants to preserve her, he tenderly cares for her, for she is his own!
Think about the way you care for your own body. You treat it tenderly. You listen to it when it hurts. You attend to its needs. You are not unnecessarily rough with it. If Christ so loves his body, the church, oughtn't we also to love it? While we cannot provide for it and preserve it in the way the Savior does, oughtn't we to look out for its interests in the same way we look out for our own?
This Ephesians passage instructs us in so many ways about how to love the church; I expect we will come back to it in the coming weeks in order to plumb its riches.