Thursday, March 10, 2011

Family Newsletter--Love the Church (Part 1)

We attended NCFIC Conference "Love the Church" this past December. We were inspired to make our next family newsletter from Valentines Day about loving the church.

Loving the Church by Being Faithful Servants of Christ

by David Jachim

In Holy Scripture, God provides us with many beautiful illustrations for the Church of Jesus Christ. These illustrations can be classified according to various themes including national metaphors (for example, a holy nation in 1 Peter 2:9 and God’s people in Revelation 21:3), religious metaphors (for example, a royal priesthood in 1 Peter 2:9 and a living sacrifice in Romans 12:2), and family metaphors (for example, the household of God in Ephesians 2:19 and sons of God in 1 John 3:2). One of the most beautiful and vivid pictures of the Church is given in Ephesians 5 where the relationship between Christ and His followers is analogized to that of the marriage union between a husband and wife.

The love that is shared between a husband and his dear wife is the closest and most intimate of any human relationship. God uses the picture of that relationship to depict not only the beauty and sacredness of the roles of the marriage partners, but also to communicate deep truths about His love and commitment to His people. As we see God’s love and His relationship to the church, we will see our responsibilities to Him and how we can be loving His church.

In Ephesians 5:25-33, there is much that we can learn in how we as born-again believers should live in relation to our loving spiritual head, the Lord Jesus Christ. From this passage, consider the following ways that you can be loving the body of Christ:

  • Love the church by willingly, lovingly, and joyfully serving Christ out of your gratitude for His sacrifice for you. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25, KJV) Christ’s love for the Church is expressed through His willingness to give himself up for it - particularly as evidenced by His sacrificial death on the Cross. This supreme act of love should result in us responding to Him with gratitude by being a radiant servant for the furthering of His Kingdom. As we learn to serve Him, we will be showing a love for the church.

  • Love the church by committing yourself to being a diligent student of God’s Word through knowing and applying what God teaches you through the Bible. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26-27, KJV) Not only did Christ yield His life for His bride the Church, but He also progressively works in the lives of His people to conform them into His image. This work is accomplished through the power of the perfect, inerrant (without error), and entirely sufficient Word of God. Since God uses the Bible in sanctifying us into godly, holy character, we need to know His Word. Commit yourself to reading, studying, meditating on, and memorizing Holy Scripture. As you do so, allow the Lord to wash you through His truth so that you can be a holy follower of Christ without spot or blemish. As you are changed, also look for opportunities to testify of the work that God Almighty is doing within you so that you can bring honor and glory to the Name of your blessed Redeemer.

  • Love the church by carrying out the specific works that God has planned for you to advance the cause of Christ. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:29-30, KJV) All who are born-again believers by the grace of God are a part of His body. By being members of Christ’s body, we should be seeking to fulfill the role for which God has equipped us. Just as the human body is made up of many members and each member needs to be performing its function well in order to have a healthy physical body, so the body of Christ contains many members that need to be fulfilling the specific works that God has prepared in advance for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10) in order to have a healthy and vibrant spiritual body. If you do not know the gift(s) and how to use them in carrying out specific good works, pray to the Lord for His wisdom. Be assured that you will be furnished by your loving Heavenly Father what you need to accomplish the particular tasks that He has planned for you.

  • Love the church by intimately abiding in Christ through a holy pursuit to know the Lord Jesus deeply and by submitting to His loving headship. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32, KJV) The intimacy that is shared within the context of marriage is likened to Christ’s relationship with the church. In order to have such intimacy, we need to abide in Him recognizing that He is the life-giving vine (John 15). This connection that we have with Christ necessitates that we have a heart of love for Him, a conviction to order our lives in a manner consistent with the Bible, a commitment to be obedient to His leading, and the discipline to spend time with Him to develop a closeness to Him that will cause the us to live all of life radiantly and joyfully.

God has a love for the church that is shown in many various manifestations, including the promises that He has given of the ultimate victory that awaits His people. Are we being a faithful bride by serving the Lord Jesus, knowing and applying God’s Word, carrying out the specific works that God has prepared for you, and abiding in Christ by seeking to know Him and submit to Him? Or are you guilty of having forsaken your love for your blessed Redeemer by seeking to fulfill your own selfish desires, planning to build your own kingdom rather than advancing His, neglecting your time with Him, and using your own reason rather than God’s revelation to make decisions? Love the church and may the world around us see this love as a testimony of the power of Christ, as indicated in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (KJV)

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