And perhaps the most difficult place to love, the most difficult place to lay down my life — is in the church. Is it because that is where Satan would most like to defeat us, where he works hardest against God’s plans?
Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians, and one of the subjects was about a certain practice under debate. Apparently, both sides of the debate felt they knew the “right” answer. Paul says:
Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.
(1 Corinthians 8:1)
That’s the New Living Translation. The NIV says, Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. A sobering test of our motives, when we have disagreements, debates, issues in the church body: Do we want to feel important or do we want to strengthen the church?
Love strengthens the church.
I re-read Revelations 2 … and re-read, and re-read. When Christ says to the church at Ephesus, “You have forsaken your first love…” is He perhaps saying that the love the church once had for each other has diminished, has been neglected, has now taken a back seat to the good things they are doing? Have they been careless in loving each other and so have lost sight of Christ’s commandment? Are they no longer loving Christ because they are not loving others? Is this the complaint Christ has against them?
Is lack of love for each other the thing that will weaken the church so much that its candlestick is removed?
So I go back to my question to my Lord: How can I love you more, love you better, always keep you as my first love?
This is how: I give up my life for the sake of reconciling others to God, I learn how to do that every day, I keep that commandment from Christ as my first rule in living with others.
I want to love the Lord God with my whole heart, and so I will love others as Jesus loves.
Spirit, help me.