The church has long held a special place in my heart. It's never been because of her perfection, but perhaps, quite the opposite. At her best, church is simply a messy group of sinners striving to love a broken world. However, it is in her imperfect striving together that she radiates the love of Christ.
Love. That's our real message. Let's own it well.
John 13:35 says in reference to the church, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
The Message translation puts it this way:
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
The premise is simple-- the world will recognize God's people by their radical love, both for each other and a hurting world around them.
I pray for a church known for our radical, selfless love. Let it be said of us...
(adapted from 1 Corinthians 13)
May the church be known for her patience, for her kindness.
May we neither envy, nor boast; may our contentment preach to a hurting world.
God, let your church be known for her humility, rather than her pride.
May she be neither arrogant, nor rude.
Let your church not insist on her own way.
Let us reflect you well with neither irritability, nor resentment.
Rather, may we love the bride for which you laid down your life.
May we never rejoice over wrongdoing.
Teach us to weep not just at the sins of our neighbors, but first at our own.
God, teach us to rejoice in your truth. May we never take for granted its supreme value.
May we bear all things in love, gladly bearing the burdens of our cities.
Together, let us come to believe your truths, find hope in all things, and endure all things in unity.
Our cities will know we were here. Our neighbors will feel our impact.
What image of the church will be ingrained in their minds?
I pray that our communities would see a people in passionate pursuit of justice, radiating perfect love, and unfailing hope.
Let them know us by our love.