I was listening to a podcast of 2 Christian speakers when one of them popped the church question:
“So, what’s your current relationship with the church?” the host asked.
She was met with a quick, emphatic reply, “Oh, I love the church. Absolutely love it.
I haven’t been there in years, but I love it.”
Come again? You love it, yet you haven’t attended for years?
Somehow, I can’t reconcile the first statement with the second.
The conversation above raises two questions in my mind:
1. What does it mean to love the church?
2. Can you love the church without attending it?
What does it mean to love the church?
Can I love my husband if I never communicate with him?
Do I love my children if I never serve them?
Do I love my home if I never go there?
Can I love a person or an organization if I never give anything to them?
No, I cannot claim to love these people (or places) if I never give of myself to them in some form.
Love is not words. Love is action. Love is communication, serving, giving, and attending.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16)
Jesus didn’t just say He loved us. He did something about it. He gave His life to demonstrate His depth of love. Christ’s example teaches us how to love the church.
Can you love the church without attending it?
But hang with me for a minute…
I have several dear friends who genuinely love the church, but are unable to attend because of severe illness.
One of them hasn’t been to church in years—and unless a miracle occurs, they’ll never be able to attend. Yet they faithfully give of their time to pray for the church members, encourage them with godly counsel, and give from their finances. Though they cannot physically attend, their actions clearly reveal their heart of love for Christ and His church.
Based on the example above (and many others like it), it would be foolish for me to dogmatically state that a person cannot love the church if they never attend. But the example above is not the norm. The great majority of us can travel freely to any public place we so desire—whether it’s church, the grocery store, or a football game.
So yes, I can have a heart of love for the church without attending it, if I’m in such a state that I am unable to attend public venues.
But can I love the church without giving to it? Giving my attendance, energy, communication skills, attention, and resources?
No, I cannot.
Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Consider the mind-shifting words of Ephesians 5: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Christ loved the church and gave Himself.
Friends, let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking we love the church if we never give ourselves to it.
Love is not real if it only talks. True love gives.