Why does it seem to be so hard for the body of Christ, the church, to love each other like He loves us? It was His greatest commandment to us, and also our biggest failure to carry out.
We do so many good things in His name, yet if love is not the main marker of those, it's all for naught. So many of us try to earn our way into the Lord's good graces even though we know better than to think it possible to do so. Yet we still try.
We smile at those we gather with Sunday mornings, some genuine, some not so much, but we put on His love in our own way to the best of our ability. I honestly believe we all desire to love like He does, we just suck at it.
I see why it's hard to love those who've hurt us, yet we need to. I see why it's uncomfortable to be around those different than us, yet we need to. I see why it's stretching for us to continue to show the love of Christ to those who don't seem to want to allow the Lord in and change their hearts, yet we need to. What I don't understand is why it's hard for us to love those in our fellowship who've never done anything to us, yet we distance ourselves from them. How do we rationalize any of it?
In the world we have our defenses to keep our hearts safe, or rather to try. It normally doesn't work very well and ends up hurting us, but still we know that it's not safe so we try to protect ourselves.
In the church we are told that LOVE resides there, and that it's safe. Many keep up their walls to protect themselves not willing to chance that the body of Christ truly is a place where His love reigns and they will be safe. There are however some who take those words to heart and allow the essence of who they are to permeate that safe haven of love. They look to the body of Christ to have the heart of Christ and so many times are then wounded deeply to find that the church looks just like the world in terms of their ability to love the unlovely. How tragic is that?
Thankfully, there are also those who truly love like He does in the exact same body that those who don't belong to. And, all of us, if we're blessed to the utmost, will encounter both. One for refining us, and the other for showing us an example of what Christ's love in action looks like. I am so incredibly grateful to have both in my life.
Now the answer to not being wounded in church is not in avoiding church. That on the surface takes care of the problem, but instead hurts us further. We allow bitterness and resentment to grow where we should be allowing iron to sharpen iron. What's necessary to grow in the spirit of Christ in such times where we are hurt is praying to have an unoffendable heart while loving the unlovely in those who've hurt you.
It's not fair to hold others to a standard of Christ's perfection in love, and not hold yourself accountable to the very same standard. We need to have Christ's grace flow freely through us in love which covers a multitude of sins. We need to take our eyes off the work our 'brothers and sisters' in Christ need to do, and allow the Holy Spirit of God to work in our hearts on what He's doing in us.
We need to not be okay with any area of our lives/minds/hearts that does not accurately reflect Jesus Christ's heart. We need to throw ourselves upon His mercy asking Him to work in us that we would look like Him and thanking Him for doing exactly that. He continues to work in us to will and to do for His good pleasure, and will finish the work He started.
Let us not hinder Him by our pride whether that pride be in self-exaltation or self-abasement. Let us let Him love us into wholeness and work in us so that we may have the privilege of doing the exact same for His other children. Love heals. Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus Christ. Thank You Holy Spirit.