GodReflection: What Make God Smile?
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another (1 John 3:11).
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to set our own perimeters when we talk about our love for the church? I may be dead wrong but my perception is that church is viewed primarily as a local assembly with only a nod to its global nature.
When I limit my vision to a local church I fail to see the body of Christ is so much more. As I love the family of God close to me I need to take care to not miss the expansive nature of family that covers the entire globe. And, I must be careful not to overlook its overarching purity and perfection made so through the spilled blood of Jesus.
Christ’s church is so grand I cannot exhaust its depths. It stands with God, Jesus, Spirit, Faith, and Scripture as a holy gift that continues to gush blessings beyond my human capacity to absorb.
In richness the church rises day after day and night after night to serve as God’s leaven in a broken world. Through the church the hands of Jesus heal, care and forgive in countless neighborhoods across the lands of the earth.
Daily, thirsty people expand the church by numbers that I cannot grasp. From multiple languages and cultures, they submit to the Lordship and Kingship of God’s Son.
I need to train my heart to love the millions of God’s children who I will never meet on the path of my earth-walk. I love them by my love for Jesus’ church.
Closer to home I want to learn at a deeper level to love the church that meets under the lordship of Jesus in church tribes that differ from my own. I want to love those with whom I disagree.
Just as Jesus accepts me on the basis of my heart and my allegiance in spite of the fact I do not always think right, I need to extend the same grace to all believers who share in the body of Christ. Only Jesus has authority to issue membership in his church. As I extend grace I learn better to love the church.
I read Paul’s description of the intensity of Jesus’ love for his church:
. . . Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Perhaps that gives me insight into how I, as a fallen creature, can love the church. The more I can see the church through the eyes of Jesus, the more readily I will be to offer grace to our cultural differences and to all of our human missteps in being church.
In keeping with Paul’s body analogy to describe church, I can begin to perceive the body parts as made holy, stain free and perfect as each part is washed through the Word Jesus. It’s a heart transformation concept. Through Jesus I can see and love the church as perfect.
I can’t help but think of the elderly apostle John who most likely in his nineties, reflects on his Lord and the church as he writes:
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . . We love because he first loved us. . . And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. . . Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well (1 John 4&5).
He speaks of the church. When I make my feeble attempts to love Jesus’ whole church in the spirit of the apostle, I catch a glimpse of the face of God. He looks at me and smiles.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: When I Love the Church God Smiles