We're living in an interesting time for the church. The world doesn't seem to understand the need for it, at best, and seeks to severely restrict it, at worst, and even Christians are beginning to buy into the narrative that faith doesn't require community, doesn't require a "church." Christian communities are coming to replace what was once the church, swapping social programming for fervent worship, and even among Christians, if you ask a question about the church, the question seems to be, "Do you like your church?"
Do you like that building you go to on Sundays and sometimes at some other time during the week? Do you like your pastor? Do you like your worship service? Do you like your preaching? Do you like at least most of the people who are there? Tell me, Christian, do you like your church?
But whether or not we like the church has never been the question. If any of the New Testament Christians were among us, or even Christ Himself, they would be flabbergasted that we care so much about liking something...especially something that they deeply loved.
The question, Christian, is not whether you like your church; the question is, do you love the Church?
Do you love her?
John has shown us through his letters, and we've seen, even in our own time, that there's a lot to love about the church. She is doing a lot of good and beautiful and wonderful and holy things in this world and, most importantly, she is glorifying the Lord in doing so.
That doesn't mean she's getting everything right. It doesn't mean she doesn't have her flaws. It doesn't mean we love everything about her. Even John, in praising the churches, disciplined them. He embraced where they were getting it right, but he called out where they were getting it wrong. And that, too, we must remember, is love.
Actually, it is the deepest love. Because if something is flawed and broken, if it's not beautiful in all of its places, and if you don't love it, then you just don't care. You disengage. You walk away. You leave it to its own demise. If it doesn't matter to you one way or another, then you just let it be. But if you love it....
And that's why the church, despite what culture has to say about it, is in good hands. That's why she's not going anywhere, even if she gets pushed around or pushed aside. It's why we don't have to worry about what happens to the church from here. Because she's got plenty of persons who love her, who love her deeply, for all the beautiful things that she is and all the wonderful things that she can be. And those who love the church are never going to give up on her. They aren't going to let her stay broken; they aren't going to let her go away.
Not when there's so much to love.
So here's to the ones loving the church, embracing all the awesome things that she is and longing for all that she can be. And glorifying the Lord.