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March 2015

June 9, 2015

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

We have had two good sessions now with Nick, the Synod Evangelist, although questions raised have led us to vary the programme so that the second session looked at the church. In Biblical terms the church is not bricks and mortar, it is not worship on a Sunday, it is not a congregation or even a denomination. It is the people of God wherever they are, all the time. The Church is a gift from God, brought into being by Jesus as the place where all believers in Christ (ie Christians) can find fellowship, support and encouragement from like minded people. It is also the means for doing God’s work here on earth.

In his discourse on human relationships in Ephesians Paul exhorts “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loves the Church” Sometimes we forget this, it is not individual but corporate, it is not simply individuals that Christ loves but His church. The church is sometimes referred to as the Bride of Christ, a title drawn from references in the Gospels, Paul’s letters and Revelation. To return to Ephesians Christ loves the Church totally, completely, without reservation, perfectly and that is held up as the model for how all husbands should love their wives.

We are all aware of the Church’s imperfections and the media seems to take great delight in displaying those imperfections to the widest possible audience. The church is not perfect, it can’t be, because it is made up of human beings. Yet the Church is the means chosen by Christ to do His work on earth. In reply to a question from a Pharisee Jesus said “love your neighbour as (you love) yourself”. In this there is a clear implication that Jesus expected people to love themselves, patently true as loving one’s self can lead to selfishness and a failure to love our neighbour. Equally clear is the fact that Jesus expected everyone to treat everyone else not charitably with spare change but lovingly with all they had.

Extrapolating this further, how can the Church love those outside it if it does not love itself? In the past I have often been accused of speaking too positively about the church. My response is simple. If I talk negatively about the church no-one will want to come to it but if I talk positively about it people just might want to sample it. Although this last sentence relates to the local church it also applies to the Church, the total Body of Christ on earth. We have to love the Church (and in doing so the local church) as much as Christ does. Church Life Meeting is the place to talk about imperfections in the church, in the community we must only talk positively about the church.

Maybe it is time to fall in love again, not with another human being but with our church and the Church. We all know what it is like when love is fresh, a girl simply cannot stop talking about her boyfriend or husband and wants to be with him as much as possible. A man in love may not talk about his girlfriend or wife so much but still wants to be with them as much as possible. This is what it must be like for us and our church. We must love it so much that we are always talking about it and want to spend as much time as possible with it.

Ian

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