In 1967, the Beatles were asked to perform a song for the first round the world live television broadcast by satellite, to be seen in 26 countries by 400 million people. The video you just saw is a recording of that event. John Lennon wanted to make sure that the message of his performance would make sense and leave a good impression. Undoubtedly, it was, and he did. But is love really all we need? It seems ironic that in a year of action, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr had left the band for brief periods, and its members began to follow an individual career, and finally separated permanently in 1970. Apparently, there simply was not enough love to keep everything together. In love, the church is not all you need. It is important, and is the focus of the discussion today, but it is all we need. In fact, these days, we are exploring the characteristics of a healthy church, we are seeing a number of essential qualities that should be part of a church if it is to be healthy and effective. So far we have seen the passionate spirituality is important. Church members must have and maintain a personal and intimate relationship with God in their individual lives, if the church will be healthy as a whole. We have also seen that the church should be meaningful and inspiring moments of worship. Once again we saw the depth and quality of our corporate worship times on Sunday morning is a reflection of our personal time of worship as individuals – the body is as healthy as the cells that compose it. Last week we talked gift-oriented ministries. Everyone in the body of Christ has been given a specific skill spirit through which they can contribute to overall health and effectiveness of the church. Only when each of us is doing our part that the church is healthy, because we can prevent people running out to do too much, or do things to those who are not gifted or called. He asked last week to go online and complete the evaluation of spiritual gifts in our website, and have a few of you – but there are some of you who have yet to do it! Today we see another feature of a healthy church – relationships. You know, if you visit your doctor for a physical examination, there are certain qualities or measures to be focus. They pay attention to things like pulse, respiration, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and heart activity. Special attention to the heart. In fact, many of these measures are directly related to the heart, right?
Your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check the efficiency of your heart with the blood pressure cuff, pulse control on the wrist, neck, ankles – all to ensure that the heart is the distribution of blood effectively. You may even be subject to a stress test, and having to run on a treadmill while hooded to a machine that monitors the effectiveness of the heart under pressure. Why? Because if there is a problem with the heart – even if everything else is good – the patient is at risk, right? Relationships are the heart of a healthy church growth. Jesus said that people know we are His disciples by the love of each other. A practical demonstration of the love of the Church builds authentic Christian community and brings others into God’s family. If there is a problem with the heart of the Church, everything else suffers. This is shown in the chapter that is read during worship time – I Corinthians 13. This chapter is often called the”love chapter”and with good reason. Often we read in wedding ceremonies and anniversaries, because of its beautiful description of the characteristics of love.
But as I shared before, the context of the verse is not the marriage, or wedding, or even romance! The context of I Corinthians 13 is the health of the church. It follows one of the more detailed and extensive discussions on the Bible on the subject of spiritual gifts. Last week, said one of the qualities of a healthy church is a gift-oriented ministry – but in I Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that the church can have all the gifts in the world, and are used correctly and completely – But if there are no relations of love between members of the church – is not – is ineffective and unhealthy hollow. Like our physical health, often the church is supposed to be healthier in this area it really is. Christian Schwartz writes that, Romantic relationships is the area where churches tend to overestimate their extravagant real quality. Cliques in many Christian churches have developed with defined relationships and rituals. Those involved in the gangs that the experience very comfortable. So I see no how outsiders can be difficult to find access to their clique. These Christians are seen as loving and open to newcomers, but are communicated – mostly unconsciously – the message. I can not stay here Oh! Are we guilty of that? Before assuming that we are a warm, loving congregation, remember that most churches overestimate how well they do. We tend to judge how loving they are, what we feel – as people who are already in the fold – instead of how a visitor must be coming for the first time. This is what we welcome them warmly? Do we invite into our lives? Are our relationships in the church deep or superficial? Is it to be limited as far as is comfortable, or are we willing to go with a friend and love to tell the truth to them, even if it hurts, and we are willing to listen when confronted with the truth? Paul speaks at length about love relationships in the church. At the end of our text last week in Ephesians 4, Paul wrote these words, Then no longer be infants, tossed by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow in what is the head, namely Christ. When the church has relationships, when the truth about love is sincere, then the mature church – no longer made by children, but grows in Christ. What happens when we mature and loving relationships. If you think it makes sense. When we are surrounded by a group of people who love us deeply, and who want the best for us and who are willing to coach us, encourage us, correct us and instructs us to see things that need attention – then will grow, right? Being in a loving relationship does not mean that there is never a confrontation – or never uncomfortable. Quite the contrary! Being in a loving godly means I’m willing to leave my comfort zone, and the risk of a confrontation, because the truth is that even the righteousness and justice must be done – but its always wrapped in grace – the desire to see the maturity and growth of the person I love. When we are engaged in the relations of the Bible, love is always spoken the truth, grace is always given, and justice is always the goal. Later, Paul describes what these relationships seem to love the church in Romans chapter 12. If you look at that chapter, you see that begins with the cult – in fact, we look at verse 1, when it comes to passionate spirituality. Paul then moves into a discussion of spiritual gifts in the church – Topic last week. Then he moves into a discussion about relationships, both within and outside the church walls. He writes:
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.
10 Love one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above themselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with God’s people in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.
16 Live in harmony with each other. Do not be arrogant, but be willing to associate with the lowly. Do not be wise.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what was right in the eyes of the world.
18 If possible, as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: “.. If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him drink so doing, you will heap burning coals on his”
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Look at the qualities of the key relationship in this passage:
- The sincerity and devotion,
- Honor and service,
- The joy and patience,
- The faithfulness and prayer,
- Distribution of needs,
- The practice of hospitality,
- Blessing not curse
- Laughter and mourn together,
- Living in harmony and humility,
- An understanding and integrity,
- In the peace and peace building.
It is not difficult to see why this is the heart of the church right? Imagine a church that was very strong in this quality. That would be so attractive to the surrounding community and the people within that church would love to be part of something so incredible! And above all, as Jesus said it would be a witness to the world of identity. In John 17, Jesus prayed to the Father so that His followers would be one as He and the Father are one, that the world would believe that the Father sent him. He prayed: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and hast loved them even as you loved.” Our love for others is critical for the world to believe that the Gospel message! We will never be effective in our mission to make disciples if we love each other in the Bible relationships. Like every other measure of church health, it must be addressed on a personal level as much as a company.
- How often meet people in the church outside the formal sessions – for a meal or a cup of coffee, a concert or activity?
- Do you make a point of inviting people from outside their”clique”to hang out?
- How quick you are to compliment someone for a job well done – or thank someone for their service to you and the church?
- Are you aware of the needs of others in the congregation? Do we pray for them, and find ways to help them?
- Are you willing to risk a confrontation with another in order to help correct the error or potentially harmful behavior?
- What are you laughing with your church family? When was the last time having fun with someone in your church?
When thinking about these questions and others that may arise, I encourage you to take to the Lord in prayer. Jesus has called us to”love one another. “He prayed the Father to bring us together in love for others. Let’s unite with Him in prayer, and obediently follow. Prayer Father, we pray as Jesus prayed, lead us to full unity, so that the whole world know that you sent it. Holy Spirit does its work in our midst – a stir within the church a love that will bring glory to God, and attract people of this community in the same loving relationship with him.