Which reminds me of the church. The church is designed like a scale that tells us how we are doing (the speaking-truth-in-love kind of thing). Because we are growing up to be like Jesus, there is always some kind of improvement going on. The church fellowship is the positive family measure that keeps our eyes focused on where we are heading from wherever we are beginning.
However, the truth-in-love scale of the church has a way of exposing that many children of God fear the light of church fellowship when they are “doing poorly”, and feel safe with church fellowship only when they are “doing okay”. This is the residue of both the law, and the sinful world we have left behind. It is also the result of a whole host of painful experiences that have proven that we are safer with people when we are measuring up to whatever standards they expect than when we are failing to keep up to group-expectations.
One of the wonderful gifts of God’s grace is to teach God’s children that we are just as loved when we are doing poorly as when we are doing well. In fact, the Bible comes right out and declares, in God’s own words, that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
A summary of the Bible’s teaching on the love of God for his children has to include that this love predates time, that it never fails, that God’s love never changes, it is everlasting, and it accomplishes all that it has set out to do. The reason that nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”, is because it is the love of God we are dealing with. Any other love fails, but God’s love endures forever, and the recipients of this love remain in this love forever.
Now, while God displaying his love for us while we were still sinners is central to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is often a sadly lacking ingredient in the daily experience of some of God’s children. I point this out (kind of like a scale identifying an area of concern), just to weigh in on the side of encouraging us who fear exposure of how poorly we are doing that Jesus expressed the love of God to us on the cross, while we were doing our worst as unregenerate sinners.
If nothing else, please accept that God has you on a journey where it is his own mission to bring you to the conscious experience of his eternal love that has already proven itself while you were a sinner, and now delights to continue proving itself to you as an adopted, eternally loved child of God.
Along with this, believe God’s word that, no matter how many bad church experiences any of us have had, Jesus is still building his church somewhere in our world, and we can trust him to fill us up with the love we need to bear with other believers as they are growing up in Christ, even while he also fills those other believers up with the love they need to bear with us as we also grow “from one degree of glory to another”.
From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)