The church is sometimes not easy to love. People claim to be Christian but act like the devil. We say the words, “I love the church” while knowing our heart isn’t there.
Still, though, we’re called to love one another (John 15:12). Here are some ways to begin reigniting that love:
- Read 1 Corinthians. In 1 Cor. 1:4 Paul wrote, “I always thank my God for you”. In the last verse of that book, he wrote, “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.” In between these sections, however, the apostle essentially said, “You’re an absolute mess.” Paul thanked God for and deeply loved one of the messiest churches in the New Testament. That’s a good model for us to follow.
- Read the Gospel of Mark to see the portrayal of Jesus’ disciples. They were untrained and uneducated men who often did not listen, seldom fully understood, and sometimes failed miserably. Meanwhile, they debated who was the greatest and fought over the best seats in the kingdom. Still Jesus loved them – and we must love our church folks who are often quite like them.
- Check your heart. Sin still haunts us. Sometimes we hold bitterness as an idol. Be honest: we’re not always lovable ourselves. Nevertheless, even those who know us best still love us. We owe to the church the patient love that others give us.
- Count your supporters. Just a few opposing folks in a church can make it difficult to love the whole church. My experience is, however, that people often overestimate the opposition and give too much attention to a few people. Count your supporters instead of the opposition, and you might be reminded of lovable people in the church.
- Hang out with a few members who want to grow. Loving the church is not possible without loving a few. Rather than trying to immediately love the whole Body again, focus on a few. Find some believers who are open, and invest in them. It’s amazing how just a few healthy relationships can change your perspective about the whole church.
- Get a vision about something in the church. Ask God to help you concentrate on one area of the church’s ministry that most motivates you. Just as focusing on a few believers can be helpful, finding that one area can begin to reignite your love for the church. An outward focus just does that: it takes your eyes off self, and renewed love often follows.
- Seek reconciliation with that person. Whether we recognize it or note, one sour relationship can color the way we feel about an entire congregation. Maybe it’s time to say something like, “I’m sorry,” “please forgive me,” or “I fear you have something against me, and I want to fix it.”
- Keep doing ministry. When your love for your church is strained, withdrawal is not the answer. Nor is laziness or disobedience. Real love demands that we continue to serve the church even when we don’t feel like it. Be faithful in doing loving ministry for your church, and you might find your heart catching fire for them again.
For the original article, visit thomrainer.com (It’s meant for pastors and thus we have taken 2 ways out (of the 10) that apply to pastoral ministry)