Most people who come into the church, whether visitors or members, expect to find themselves in a loving atmosphere. In fact, Jesus made love an overriding characteristic that will distinguish believers as His disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV). The unfortunate truth is, love is missing in the local churches today.
"The unfortunate truth is, love is missing in the local churches today."
Why does the church have this problem? I believe the first reason is our assumption that when you become a believer, you automatically know how to love others, or that love will come naturally. Along with this, we also assume we automatically love from those around us. These assumptions are apparent when we use the phrase, “’IF’ we love one another, we will attract other people to Christ.” Another is when we use the demand, “We MUST love one another.” There’s nothing wrong with these two statements if love did exist within the church. The problem is this statement is made when love is not present within the church, and the demand to love one another is made publicly—usually out of frustration.
The second reason for a loveless church is we don’t realize God has a process for love. In Galatians 5:22, love is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” (NIV). The process for bearing love is described in Ephesians 4:1-16. Here, we find the church “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16, NIV). But when we take a step back and look at Ephesians 4:11-15, we discover, as individuals, we must be equipped (trained and discipled) to serve; we are not to be infants but to be mature and become like Christ in every way. God’s process for the church is each individual believer first needs to grow, become mature, and serve. Only those who go through this process can truly understand Christ’s love and can truly love others. When this individual process is carried out, then the church “grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work” (v. 16, NIV).
"...we don't realize God has a process for love."
The biggest problem with churches today is church members don’t want to go through God’s individual process of growing, maturing, and serving. Ironically, they expect the church to be loving. This is a dilemma, because the church is made of these very people who refuse to go through the process.
"...the church is made of these very people who refuse to go through the process."
What does this mean for you? It means if you want your church to be distinguished as a loving church filled with Christ’s disciples, then you need to go through the process of growing, maturing, and serving.
We are excited to let you know this April and May, SPHAC will focus on helping you become a disciple that will grow, mature and serve so you can help us become a loving church.
Written by Rev. Chong Lee Yang (Kx. Ntxoov Lis Yaj)