If God so loved us…

church4

mom4This past Sunday was the second Mother’s Day I have spent without my Mom. She suddenly passed away over a year ago. I miss her patient, listening ear and her gracious advice. I miss her getting to love her granddaughters as she loved me. I miss her friendship; the kind full of trust and safety to speak all things knowing they fall on ears that love you unconditionally. You can even confess difficult things, like humiliating sin, and you not only find Christ-centered correction but also Christ’s love.

I didn’t realize how weighty of a space my Mom took up in my life and heart until she was gone. But another thing I did not fully realize was that my mother’s love (and all the things that she did in outpour of it) was not just a biologically maternal thing. Yes, she loved me because she was my Mom. But she was alive in Christ, and it was my Savior’s love that poured from her. And it would be an understatement to share my joy and relief when I began to recognize the same love coming from people who weren’t even my blood family. This love came from the Church.

These precious people truly love me. My hurts, my wounds, my sins, my struggles, my fears…they all matter to them. In their arms, I find a safe place where there will be truth and affection from people who actively cultivate my growth in Christ, building me up in love (Ephesians 4:15-16). In their arms, my daughters have found grandparents who love them dearly, and who value even their growth in Jesus as much as I do.

In the New Testament, I weep when I read the Scriptures that command the Church to imitate Jesus in their love for one another.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” (Ephesians 4:32, 5:1)

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God send his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him…beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11)

And from our Messiah’s very words,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. But this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

I weep when I read these, because this is the beauty of the Body. They are people who know the love of God demonstrated in Christ, and in turn, love me so much. To these people, I’m indebted, and I’m eternally grateful to God that I get to be a part of them. And when I say “the church”, I don’t mean a particular place of worship I attend. I mean the people that I attend with. I mean my dear friends who live in other towns, and other states. I mean members of the Body, wherever they are, who know Jesus and who love me like He does.

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