(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
Huey Lewis wrote a song back in the 1980’s with these lyrics:
“The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep,
Make another man sing.”
And John Lennon wrote “All you need is love…” over 40 years ago. I like these songs…great lyrics, melody, and subtle messages. Love is an oft spoken word with misunderstood expectations. Today’s focus on “love” has become an idol in the western world. Love has evolved from providing for ones in a manner that glorifies our heavenly Father to acceptance of lifestyles that are sinful and debauched. Further, the church, the bride of our Savior, has suffered the desertion of many that claim they have been born again and claim they love the Lord. An understanding of love within the church is desperately needed.
The church has explicit organizational responsibilities given to it by Jesus. They are primarily; 1) to preach the Gospel, 2) to protect the Gospel, 3) to equip the professors of the Gospel and exclude false professors, and 4) to prepare genuine professors for the bride groom’s return. Many other responsibilities are couched in these four, e.g. missions and evangelism, support of believers that have needs that their families cannot fulfill, and fellowship within a family of redeemed sinners. These directives are given to the church in love and they are to be carried out in love. Notice the equipping is to occur in the local church. Notice the bearing of each other’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ in the church. Notice the majority of the New Testament is written to local churches. Why then is the power of love for the local church missing?
“Christians cannot display the life of this final society, this end-time gathering, this heavenly city, this Christ, all by themselves”, states Jonathan Leeman in his book “The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love”. We need other believers! Today many so-called believers in the saving work of Jesus Christ consider local church membership as a relic from the past. We are consumers and picky consumers at that. Our thoughts about church are strategic – we are part of the larger “universal” or catholic church. Our submission to God’s authority and the four principles our Savior left to his body on earth is sporadic and the application of these four tactics is misapplied even when it is believed. We easily pull out from under the umbrella of the authority of the local church. When we do, the deluges of life’s struggles drown us because we have removed ourselves from our Lord’s ordained means of growth and service – the local church!
Can we bear each other’s burdens and do we examine our spiritual works within the doors of a local church? And how would we obey these commands if not within the local church? Jesus gifted the church with His authority on earth. We are members of his body and are to submit to his Lordship and to the gifted authority of elders in the local church. I am not to judge another without humility and I cannot challenge their individual commitment. But the church can. This is the power of God’s love! Today many don’t believe that authority belongs to the church; it belongs to the consumer Christian, asserting their presence with the power of the pocketbook. We question the Lordship of Christ and do not submit to Him when it is preached. And we search for churches that cater to our consumerist nature. The preacher must be a comedian and music must be accompanied by guitar riffs that produce “air guitar” wannabes. Not surprisingly, churches are shallow; Christians are weak and look like the world.
Beloved, we are to bear with one another – the church is comprised of sinners. Even when I am alone I am with a sinner. It is in the church that I am to love sinners with all our baggage - the backbiters, the hypocrites, those devoid of doctrinal stability and they are to love me. I have the same sins! And I have the very same Savior! I chose the church in which I serve – but the members I did not choose. I have grown in God’s grace to love them, to participate in defining Jesus’ love to a lost and dying world. Bearing each other’s burdens characterizes the church’s love until our beloved Redeemer returns and demonstrates to the world the power of love!
Sola Deo Gloria, Pastor Carey