Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Love in the Local Church

"We love each other and cherish the fellowship of God's people."

Love isn't a feeling.

Recently, Melissa and I were mocking a lady on television who was talking about knowing a certain man was "the one" because of feelings. That stuff makes for good cinema, but not for good living. If we were committed to those we should love only when we felt like it -- when circumstances were just right and when our hearts were going pitter-patter in just the right way -- we would not be practicing genuine love and we would be in disobedience to God's instruction for our lives.

Love is not something we fall into (or out of). Love is not a tingling or blissful sensation. Love is not an undefinable phenomenon that basically exists to make us happy. Rather, true and biblical love is a commitment to another person for his or her benefit. This is why in dozens of different ways the Bible commands us, "love one another," yet never once commands us, "love yourself." Our natural self-serving bent makes such a command unnecessary in the first place.

The relationships that contain love may be expressed in covenants, as our marriages are basic covenant commitments to one another, and God also brings His people into covenants. Many times, however, our love is expressed outside of formal covenant relationships. Regardless, true love is always to be expressed in the decision to be genuinely committed to another, offering grace, mercy, patience, kindness, gentleness, and a whole host of other Christlike qualities that the Spirit enables us to reflect.

Therefore, when we think about what it means to love each other in the local church, we should not think, "This means that I show up for people when it works for me." That view is both narrow and shallow. Rather, we should think, "This means that I am basically committed to each one of God's people here, to show Christ to them and grow in the truth with them, through thick and thin." These are two very different definitions for what it means to love your church. Seek Christlike love toward your brothers and sisters here.

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