When we say “I Love Church” what do we really mean? I love Sunday morning worship at church. I love the people I see at church. I love the beautiful sanctuary or building. I love the preaching. I love the music. I love the outreach our church does. It is wonderful to love the church and all that the church means in our lives.
As much as we love these things about church, have you ever paused to ponder the first love of church or primary cause of love of church. I hope the answer that comes to mind is the love of Jesus Christ and grace of God. A quick reply may be, “Well, of course Jesus is involved in love of church, but we already assume that.” Let’s not make assumptions about the connection between love of Jesus and love of church. Instead, let’s study our love of church because of the first love of Jesus.
If love of Jesus is the primary reason Christians meet together, serve together, pray together and live in community together, then we need explicit reminders of the call of Jesus to be community in his name. Paul’s letter to the community in Thessalonica offers a glimpse of an early Christian community with deep faith as they boldly proclaim and exemplify being followers of Jesus Christ. As we study this letter during the month of September I encourage you to pray in the words of Paul (1 Thessalonians 3:12-14) …
“May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.”