The Church & Love
Posted on: May 24, 2007
I’ve been thinking a lot lately on love and the church, I’ve been pondering on it from various things that have happened at church and also we were talking about it at uni earlier in the context of ‘what is your dream’ (inspired by the Martin Luthur talk)
I think my dream is for the church to practice what it preaches, for churches to stop getting hung up on denomination, the place the alter is, the type of music, whether the worship leader puts in a chorus or whatever petty thing that bugs someone. My dream is for the church to love.
Let’s be honest here, throughout history the church has been pretty crap at loving, we’ve condemmed people, done crusades (to kill people), had church splits over silly things (and some major theological things) and people have stormed out over some silly arguement over a building, yet in a faith that tells us to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ what’s gone wrong? why do we find this teaching described by Jesus as ‘the most important commandment’ (along side loving God) so difficult?
The obvious answer is that we’re only human and humans argue and for some reason we are fairly incapable of discussing things instead we seem to resort to more dramatic effects.
In my third year of uni I have the option of ending up with a ‘rev’ in front of my name which initially I thought could be quite cool, however the more I think about it the less I like the idea, perhaps mainly because I don’t feel it’s something God is calling me too but also because of the way the church bugs me, yes being a ‘rev’ could potentially help me change the church but the lack of love and tollerance annoys me in churches.
However I am keen for this blog not to become a slagging match of me and the church because let’s face it that just makes me a hypocrite, how many church problems would be solved if people actually talked rather than slagged off? (a few!)
So what’s my solution? Do I have some new revolutionary method to fix the church and all it’s problems? Nope, my answer is simple yet difficult; ‘Love’
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul writes the famous passage read at numerous weddings, people take it to be all lovey dovey but it’s not, in context Paul is annoyed at the church in Corinth because they’re not loving, he describes love because they’re not doing it. Read the passage I’m quoting below and put a ‘you’re not’ at the end, i.e. love is patient, you’re not.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
After this verse he moves on talking about how spiritual gifts will pass away but how love should remain, perhaps a letter like this sent to some of our churches which are so hyped up about tongues wouldn’t go amiss (but that’s a tangent).
The point is if we had all this into our churches wouldn’t they be better places? If we were patient, kind, slow to anger, not self seeking, not keeping records of wrongs.
How about if we had a church made of these, a church that didn’t have leaders who seek their own glory, a church of people willing to help the homeless or person who comes in scruffy rather than turn their nose, a church that didn’t get annoyed because there was a wrong note during a song, or there wasn’t a hymn.
As a church of Jesus Christ we need to focus on Jesus, we need to focus on Jesus’ key command of love, whoever sang the lyrics ‘love changes everything’ was right, love is amazing and it’s such a shame that 2000 years after Jesus preached the message of love we haven’t got it sorted, in fact we are so far from it it’s unbelievable.
Start The Fire
So to anyone reading this blog I am asking you to look at yourself, look at anyone you’re close to and look at the passage from Paul, would he say to you ‘patient…you’re not’ or ‘you’re not’ to any of them or would he say ‘actually you’re not bad at that’. I find it odd that in Galations 5 patience, love, self contro and gentleness are included in the fruits of the Spirit, not to say that people in our churches who don’t have patience aren’t filled with the spirit but perhaps like all of us focus and prayer needs to be put into being patient.
What I’m saying is this, approach your church with love, approach it with all the things Paul talks about in Corinthians, avoid those petty arguements, accept church for what it is, go to church ready or willing to worship God, or perhaps ready to be comforted by people there if you’ve had a bad week. Too often our churches split and argue because of a lack of love or because we continuously forget the 2 most important commands according to Christ ‘Love your neighbour’ and ‘love God’