Chambersburg, PA
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Loving the Church

Recently we looked at Hebrews 10:24-5: “[24] And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, [25] not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

God loves the church – he purchased it with his blood (Acts 20:28). When you love someone, you love what they love. And so, if you love God, you will love what he loves; if you’re committed to God, you’ll be committed to what he’s committed to: His people, His church. 

As the passage in Hebrews summarizes, this love includes a mutual responsibility to one another, and a commitment to meeting together. Here is how Calvin summarizes this mutual responsibility:

“All the godly ought by all means possible to exert themselves in the work of gathering together the church on every side; for we are called by the Lord on this condition, that everyone should strive to lead others to the truth, to restore the wandering to the right way, to extend a helping hand to the fallen, to win over those who are without.” Not only do you need the church, but the church needs you. 

I didn’t include this long quote in the sermon, but I thought it was a helpful summary of what our attitude towards the local church should be (from Why we Love the Church, Kevin Young):

“The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an antireligion, antidoctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love and harmony. To be sure, he showed people how to live. But he also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. If we truly love the church we will bear with her in her failings, endure with her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. I still believe the church is the hope of the world – not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for the head.

“Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me.

“So I guess this is my final advice: Find a good local church, get involved, become a member, stay there for the long haul. Put away thoughts of revolution for a while and join the plodding visionaries. Go to church this Sunday and worship there in spirit and truth, be patient with your leaders, rejoice when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed, bear with those who hurt you, and give people the benefit of the doubt. While you are there, sing like you mean it, say hi to the teenager no on notices, welcome the blue hairs and the nose-ringed, volunteer for the nursery once in a while. And yes, bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everyone else, invite a friend to church, take the new couple out for coffee, give to the Christmas offering, be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet, enjoy the Sundays that click for you, pray extra hard on Sundays that don’t, and do not despise “the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).”