25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so 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. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. —Ephesians 5:25-30
Ephesians 5:25 is usually quoted in sermons and discussions about marriage: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.” Hey, make no mistake about this, all right? Jesus Christ loves the church throughout the world. Jesus Christ loves His church, in spite of all of her imperfections. He loves us as His church. He loves us in spite of ourselves. You want a tough measurement for love? Love as Christ loves the church.
Now a lot of Christians don't love the church. And maybe you don't love the church because you got wounded. "I can't even tell you how I was treated, and what people said about me." Church-induced injuries are devastating.
First of all, on behalf of the Lord, I am sorry that happened to you. But get your eyes back on the Lord. Has Jesus disappointed you? Has He been less for you than He promised? He loves the church, and even though it's not a perfect place, it's a good place, and it's a God place. And there’s a place for you in His church.
Come back into the church even if you were disappointed, even if you saw some stuff and people were bad, and they were hypocritical, and you don't want to be part of that any more. I agree. Tear down hypocrisy wherever you find it in the church—or in yourself. What kind of Christian would everyone be if the only person they got to watch was you? So God forgive us for our “judgmental-ism” of other Christians, knowing the struggles in our own hearts.
But maybe you unplugged from the church because, honestly, you got tired. You worked hard, and no one thanked you. I'm sorry that happened, too. But don’t complain about how it worked out when you haven't even gotten to payday yet. Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” So even if you've been hurt and disillusioned by the church, or just worn out by it, let me remind you that Christ loves the church, so we should, too!
- In what ways am I loving the church as Christ loves the church? Where do I think I can do better?
Prayer: Father, teach me the difference between natural weariness, that can actually be satisfying, and the kind of spiritual weariness that indicates I’ve got my priorities in the wrong place. Help me to rest in You and renew my strength for the work I can carry out for You. Thank You for giving me a place to serve and to live in Your body, the church, and for loving all of us so very much! I’m grateful in Jesus’ name, Amen