One Thing to Avoid in a Church

Are you looking for a church?
There is one thing to avoid.

Easy love.

That’s right. We need not join churches where love does not challenge us.

Easy love is careless love. It’s love that does not take action. It’s accepting you just as you are but doing nothing further about it. A church that will not challenge you to change and grow is not really a church at all. And it is not displaying a genuine love. Avoid such a place.

Easy love can be likened to going to a hospital with a heart condition or cancer and having the doctor say to you, “We’ll just accept you as you are, carry on, come again next week.”
This would not be helpful nor would we appreciate it, especially living with such life threatening conditions.
But hey, there was acceptance, even acknowledgement, yet little to no investment of time and care from the doctor. Kind of like easy ‘love’. A love that cares little and takes no action.

And sadly easy love is often our default position.

So… What to look for in a church?

To even bother seeking out a church generally means we’re looking for some sort of spiritual connection. We might even recognize that something is wrong with us and this world. We sense a brokenness in our life — with ourselves, with others, with the world we live in, and with God. Sin and its curse have caused this world to become a fallen broken world. We want healing and change… and hope for something better.

We do not need people to affirm us in our brokenness. We need people to point us to Jesus, the One who made the way clear for us to reconcile the broken relationships that abound in our lives. Jesus removes our sin, when we confess our sins and repent of them. And this will mean great change in our lives. Repenting is ‘a turning 180 degrees in the opposite direction’. And that’s hard. Real hard.

So what is key in a church then?

Hard love. A love that is willing to go the distance with us and see us becoming what God has in store for us. Love that penetrates to our core, exposing everything that needs cleansing and renewal. Look for a church where hard love flows forth from the gospel. The gospel is God’s love demonstrated for us through the giving of His Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice on a cross for our sins, and who rose from the dead as Lord over all. The gospel affects every aspect of our lives, and will not leave us unchanged. It’s regularly spoken of and lived out towards each other. Everyone enters with a need for cleansing and renewal in Christ. Look for this kind of church where you will be loved with a radical life-transforming love as Jesus lived out. Jesus always accepted people where they were at, but NEVER left them there. And a true church is, after all, the body of Jesus, and should look and act as He did.

But be warned this won’t leave you in your sin. It will get exposed, not by people, but by the convicting message of the gospel, and by the power of Christ’s Spirit in you. Much like we’d want our cancer removed or our heart condition dealt with, God can do both. Remove sin (like a cancer), and renew our darkened hearts.

To truly love someone is hard work. God went first in showing His love for us. He completely humbled and emptied Himself and took on flesh, becoming one of us. He still cares enough to go the distance with anyone who asks Him. He also decided to use His followers in the process. It means that we in turn care enough to participate in restoring others into the new holy life Jesus calls people to. It’s sacrificial work. It will cost. It can get messy. It exposes our own failures and sins. It brings on humility.

But all this is cleansed in Jesus when we believe in Him — washed by His blood poured out for us on the cross. And following this cleansing is renewal and new life by His Spirit, to live out here and now already. As we have been loved, so we are to go and love, until Jesus returns a second time to make ALL things new.

That is the essence of the gospel. And it cuts us to the heart.
Why would we be looking for a church in the first place? Because we want change, hope, and healing in our life – not for it to stay the same! And then to enjoy reconnection in grateful worship to the God who made us!

As for this broken world, it is for us a passing through. It will not last. Jesus is advancing His gospel work towards a new heaven and new earth that will last forever. That will be ushered in when a full count of people find Jesus, deciding to journey the road of hard love — a beautiful transformational eternal love.

That’s worth looking for. That’s worth finding. It’s worth our all.

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