I’m going to ask you for something in a minute. But let me set the stage, first.
Guys, let those of us who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus and who are parts of local churches love the Christians whom God has bound us together with.
Let’s care for our fellow church members from the heart. Let’s seek God in prayer for their joy, faith, and hope in Jesus.
I’ve tried to pray regularly, nightly for the Christ-centered joy and the wellbeing of my brothers and sisters here at CrossBridge. I’ve done this imperfectly, and at times half-heartedly, but I haven’t given up. And I won’t. Because I love them in Christ, and because even in my selfish and fleshly and childish moments I know I should love them in Christ. And as I’ve prayed and thought about them and had my heart hurt or rejoice on their behalf, I’ve become a better Christian. A more fully Christian man.
I’m pleading with you, let’s care about whether or not those in our midst love Jesus. Let’s be deeply concerned with whether or not they’re looking at pornography or falling into doubt or mired in self-hatred or plagued by bitterness or self-protecting wounds from childhood or being overcome by materialism and greed. Let those of us who have been grafted in, through faith, to the people of God love. Let us glow with obedient, God-glorifying, salvation-displaying affection for the brothers and sisters whom God has placed us with.
A thought: I don’t know of any place in the New Testament where “church” is described as a place to go to. That may be how we think of it here and now, but it’s not at all what’s God’s Word says. The church is what God’s people are, and the individual body we have been placed in by God stands together with all the other God-redeemed, Gospel-believing bodies in the breathtaking choir of the rescued, ransomed, people of God.
I don’t go to church. I have been made a part of the church.
How can I not love the members of the body? Ephesians 5 tells me Jesus does not hate His body, but nourishes her and cherishes her; how can I be indifferent to her?
Here is a practical request if you are reading this and a lover of and believer in Christ: Would you, as you read this, think about those in the midst of your church’s gatherings and pick one of them, and then pray to God for him or her each day for a week? Whether you know his or her spiritual or material needs or not, plead with God for his or her Christ-soaked joy, peace, well-being, worship, humility, repentance, or faith. For any good thing you know God loves to give His children (even character-producing suffering). Ask God to give you love for the man or woman, boy or girl, and then pray each day for his or her eternal good. Will you do that with me for 7 days?
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him.”
Some of John’s words to his Christian brothers and sisters, in 1 John 3. Let us exemplify them in grace.
Let our hearts be open to the brothers, and our love for them be in deed and in truth.
*Note: This post was adapted from an e-mail I sent to our church.