Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Point of Church

Everything revolves around love in the kingdom of God. Those things that are most important to God issue from love. Case(s) in point:

1) Obedience [of faith] to Christ arises out of love. We cannot force ourselves to obey Christ out of sheer will or intellect. It takes love. If one loves Christ, obedience follows naturally. It is that one who loves Christ and obeys him for whom the love of God will be efficacious in turn.

2) Moving in the Spirit with great faith and as an astonishing witness has point and purpose only when arising out of love. Seemingly spiritual giants are just dogs in the street without love. Those things that are here for a season, but are bound to pass away cannot carry any weight at the threshold of eternity.

A personal friendship with God arises out of love. Since God is love, to get along with him one must adopt love too. Not like a mask, but as a transforming reality of the heart. When we start where we are and "go with the flow" of love (God) living in us, his love is brought to fullness within us. Certainly, one can never get along with God and not be loving like him.

So where is the place of doctrine in all this? Well, at the end of time, it will not matter, nor will anyone care whether or not one was Arminian or Calvinist; dispensational or covenantal; pre-, post- or a- millennial; charismatic or cessationist. What will matter is not the practice of doctrine, but the practice of love. Don't get me wrong, doctrine is important, it's just not more important than practicing love.

Church, ultimately, is not about religious duty, nor religious teaching but about relationships between brothers and sisters, and love, not doctrine, defines that. If one goes through life attending church, committed to the group but never connecting to people, one errs and misses the matter of utmost importance. If one studies the Bible and knows church doctrine, but does not know his brethren he has missed the most significant doctrinal point.

Church is the place (and the period) where we learn to love one another and add others to the circle of love. The central reality of any church should be love and the way it connects people to people. If we strive for all else and miss that, we will have missed everything. If we lay anything on the line, if we sacrifice anything near and dear, let it be to further the love we have one for the other. That is the point, after all, of church.