The Church and the Love of Jesus
"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-19
There are many reasons why a Christian needs the church. We need the people of Christ to help us become more like Christ. We need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the faith. We need accountability to grow in holiness. We need people to speak truth in love to us. We need people to spur us on to love and good deeds. Gathering with the church on Sundays is not just something to fill a spot on our calendars. We need the church.
But there is one reason that we need the church that I had never thought of before. That is, until I was recently re-reading Tim Lane and Paul Tripp's book How People Change?' While talking about the Christian life being a community project, they say this about Ephesians 3:14-19:
Look at the language Paul uses. Do you get a sense of how big the love of Christ is? Can you imagine what it would take to really tap into it? The love of Christ is so wide, long, high, and deep (infinite, in other words) that we cannot see the love or experience it all by our finite selves. We need strength from God to comphrehend it and we have to grasp it "together with all the saints."
That's amazing! Did you see it? We need the people of Christ to help see the love of Christ. That's what Paul says clearly that "we may have strength to comprehend with all the saints" the love of Christ.
This means that you can not understand the love of Christ as fully outside of the church than you could together with the church.
When you gather on Sundays, you are seeing the love of Christ more clearly than if you were at home in your pajamas. When you are singing with the people of God, you are experiencing the love of Christ in a way that you wouldn't by singing alone in the shower. When you meet with your community group, you are bringing into focus the love of Christ that would have stayed fuzzy if you lived an isolated life. When you pursue deeper relationships with brothers and sisters, you are experiencing more fully the pursuing love of Jesus.
So, whatever you do, don't withdraw from gospel community. Don't isolate yourself when you sin. Don't neglect meeting together with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Come and experience the love of Christ like never before.