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Missing Church

I’ve missed church two weeks in a row. I missed our ninth birthday celebration due to what was likely COVID. I missed this past week due to a non-Grace Life work event in Atlanta. Needless to say, it’s strange to go a few weeks without being with my Grace Life family. 

As a young child, my parents instilled in me the importance of attending church. We went Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. My parents weren’t just attendees either. They served. So we would show up early and stay late. It wasn’t even a question when baseball practice landed on a church night where we were going to be. Church was a priority for our family. 

Now, my family has the same priority. We’re going to do everything we can to be with the people who belong to our local church. Yes, there are days when we are sick or out of town, but a late night on Saturday or a sporting event on Sunday won’t be the reason for us to miss. The church must be a priority because Jesus has made the church a priority.


Jesus Loves the Church.

In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul is speaking to Christian husbands and how they are to love their wives with Christlike love. Here’s what he says.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25–27)

The husband’s love for his wife is to be equivalent to the love Jesus has for us. Jesus gave his life for the church. He purifies the church. He does everything He can for the church. Jesus has an unconditional, eternal love for His church! And we know his love was demonstrated through His death and resurrection for sinners. (Romans 5:8)

Years ago, I heard a statement that changed my perspective as a pastor. It went something like this: “Pastor, Jesus loves your church more than you do”.

I’ve poured a lot of energy and spent a lot of hours doing what is necessary and required to faithfully pastor/shepherd the wonderful people of Grace Life Church. I love what I get to do day in and day out. 

I get to wake up every day and point people to Jesus. Sometimes it’s in hospitals. Sometimes it’s over text messages and phone calls. Sometimes it’s through encouragement and sometimes it’s through correction. I get to study God’s Word and then preach it to God’s people. I get to be one of the celebrate with people when they find out they’re pregnant after years of infertility and I sit with people and mourn with them as they share devastating news with me. 

Yet, Jesus loves the people of Grace Life far more than I ever will! He gave his life so we can live! He died so our sins would be put to death. He conquered our sins so we can live with him for eternity. We were his enemies and through his death, He has made us His friends!

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15:13)


We Should Love the Church Too.

I believe Jesus’ love for the church is a model for us. Right before he makes the statement about laying His life down for His friends, He says this:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”. (John 15:12)

The love shown to us by Jesus is to be shown to one another. This context speaks specifically to our faith community. Yes, we are to love our neighbor and love our enemies, but we should love the church too. We should love the people in our church whom we gather with weekly. We should love them, serve them, care for them, encourage them, and be present with them.

It’s quite difficult to love or to know how to love someone when you’re never present with them.  

Throughout the New Testament, we see the familial theme given to those who belong to the church. We are brothers and sisters together in Christ Jesus. There is an understanding that the Christian life is not intended to be lived alone (Acts 2:42-47). It’s through the mutual edification of one another that we are loved and encouraged and our burdens are carried as well (Galatians 6:1-5). 

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author of Hebrews gives this encouragement to us on being with the church.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25)

I truly believe that if we say we love the church, we will be present when the church meets together. We will be with the saints singing songs of our Savior, reading Scripture together, encouraging each other, and praying with one another. Is the local church perfect? By no means. But it’s a beautiful place to belong. 

Grace Life, I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the hugs, laughter, and encouragement. I’m looking forward to pointing you to Jesus and you doing the same for me. Two weeks is too long not to be with my brothers and sisters.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

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