What does Christ’s Love for the Church look like?
In looking at the Gospel we have seen that Christ loved the church, but what exactly does this love look like? Well, there are a number of passages that help us to understand Christ’s love for the church, and consequently how we are supposed to love the church. We are going to look at several of these passages very briefly to help our own view of the church.
The first passage we are going to look at is Ephesians 5:25-27. Here the apostle Paul uses the illustration of marriage to demonstrate Christ’s love for the church. In this illustration the Church is the Bride of Christ—a bride which Christ deeply loves. In fact, Paul tells us that Jesus displayed the ultimate act of love by giving up his life for the church. 1 John 3:16 tells us that this act demonstrated the very essence of love. And Paul tells us that it for the Church, not a group of loosely connected individuals, that Jesus demonstrated this love. Furthermore, Paul tells us why he lovingly gave Himself up for the church. It was so that He could sanctify His bride by cleansing her. By the blood of Jesus the church collectively, as well as the individuals who are a part of the church, are transformed into an appropriately holy bride for Christ. The emphasis here is certainly on Christ’s love for the church as a whole. This does not exclude individuals, but it certainly emphasized the collective whole more than the individual.
Another passage that demonstrates Christ’s love for the church is Acts 20:28. Here we find the apostle Paul’s final words to the leaders at Ephesus, and it is no surprise that He is instructing them concerning the church. Specifically, he is commanding them to lovingly protect the church. And why were the supposed to do this? Simple, because this was the church that “God had purchased with his own blood.” In other words, Paul commanded them to love and protect the church because God loves and protects the church. Here “God” refers specifically to Jesus, and it is clear yet again that Jesus loves the church. By His blood Christ has obtained the church for Himself, and because He cared enough about the church to do this we should continue to protect the church as Paul commanded the Ephesians leaders to do.
The last passage that I want to look at in Revelation 19:6-10. Here we see the consummation of all history, and it’s a wedding. But don’t worry guys, this isn’t like one of those cheesy TLC shows the girls turn on when they get the remote. This wedding will be the wedding feast to end all wedding feasts. This is when Christ will come back to take the bride which He purchased, purified, and prepared through His blood. On that day even the angels are going to rejoice. Are you starting to get the picture? When I think about when the doors opened at my wedding and I finally got to see my beautiful bride fully prepared for the ceremony I still remember the love that I felt for her. In the same fashion, but on a much grander scale, Christ loves His church as His bride. This is why He has gone to so much trouble to prepare the church for the wedding feast. Christ absolutely loves His bride, the Church. As a result of His death, Jesus will be able to fully express His love His at this wedding feast, and throughout eternity.
What does your love for the Church look like?
In looking at just a few examples from Scripture it is clear that Christ loves the church. This love is not a fleeting, or trite love either. Christ’s love for the church is sacrificial. Out of love for His bride he paid the ultimate sacrifice for her when He gave up his own life. Additionally, Christ’s love for the church is faithful. No matter how many times His bride tries to turn away from Him He continues to protect her, and apply His cleansing blood on her behalf. Similarly, Christ’s love for the church is characterized by commitment. He is continually preparing the Church for the wedding feast, and He is committed to being with Her for all of eternity.
So here is the question for you, do you love what Christ loved? Do you love the church? Is you love for the church seen through sacrifices that you make for the church? Or, is church all about what you can get? Is your love for the church faithful? Are you faithfully attending church, faithfully fulfilling your role in church, and faithfully helping the church prepare for its wedding feast with Christ? Or, are is church just another part of your already busy life? What about commitment? Is your love for the church seen in your commitment to the church? Are you committed to being a part of the church despite all of Her shortcomings? Or, is you commitment to the church contingent upon something else?
These are all questions that we need to be asking ourselves, because if we are not loving the Church then we are not like Christ. And if we are not like Christ then we are not demonstrating the fruit of salvations in our lives. Christ-like love for the church is a fruit of your salvation, and a conformation that you are truly a believer. This is why it is absolutely vital that we talk about the church, and understand better.