A Love for All Loves
One evening, about twelve years ago, there was a moment of about 5 seconds that stands out in my memory and still makes me grin today. A girlfriend and I, both in our twenties then, went out one night to meet up with some friends at one of our regular hang-out spots. There was nothing special about the occasion, except that we knew we would have about 15-20 people in our group that night. As the two of us unassumingly walked into the lounge, we were immediately taken aback by an exaggerated, celebratory applause directed straight at us. There was clapping and cheering as we were stopped in our tracks by this superfluous, overabundant welcome. It was hilarious! We had done nothing to earn the ovation but walk in the door, which is what made it so funny. We then took our seats and joined in with our friends in the superabundant welcome of the next person to walk in the door.
As I remember those few brief seconds at the door, I recognize the feelings of acceptance and camaraderie I experienced in that silly little gesture. I also recognize that it is the same feelings I had when I entered into the body of Christ just a few years later. Although the scene was quite different, there was definitely celebration when I was welcomed into the church, and in the same fashion, I had done nothing to earn the applause but walk in the door.
However, instead of it being an isolated event, it was and still is, ongoing and more meaningful the more I embrace the fellowship that God meant for me to experience within the church. That desire I had for acceptance was met by the One it was intended for, Christ Himself. Now, I can take my place in welcoming other people into the same joy, the place where grace abounds. It’s the place where we are united by one Spirit and where we love each other because of the One we love.
This is the concept to which Beth Moore is alluding in Chapter 11 of Audacious, A Love for All Loves. The main point she conveys in the chapter is that loving Jesus adds meaning and value to all of your other relationships. And, just as she implores the reader to seek out godly relationships, I also implore you…If you do not have any close relationships within the Church, you are missing out on a special part of God’s plan for you.
The best way I can express the feeling of togetherness is to relate it to the unison of the church worshiping together. You may have experienced it before. Have you ever been in a worship setting at church or a concert when the singer stops singing and the room is filled with united voices of the crowd singing in unison? All at once, and all together, people are breathing in the rhythm of one breath and with a heartbeat of one heart, inhaling the wind of the Spirit and exhaling the praises of the Lord.
Have you felt those chill bumps as the wind of the Spirit blows through the atmosphere in that moment?
That is not the air conditioning kicking on, that’s the heart of the Holy Spirit swelling with affection for the unity of the church. That’s the Spirit of God within you uniting with the Spirit of Christ within everyone else in that moment.
It is God the Father smiling as affection is poured out onto His Son by His bride-to-be, the bride who He purposed before the creation of the world. It is the church who is making herself ready for the glorious day of the wedding supper of the Lamb, that day when grace super-abounds and joy overflows.
And you, my dear friend, were always meant to be included in that number and present on that day; present among the multitude knit together into one by the love of Christ.
The apostle Paul expressed this hope for the church in chapter 2 of Colossians when he wrote, “My goal is that they will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love… For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ.”
“For we are joined together in His body by His strong sinews (tendons), and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God” (Colossians 2:2; 2:9, 2:19, NLT).
Union with Christ unequivocally means union with the Church. It is His design that the two be interwoven. Our like-minded relationships strengthen our relationship with Jesus.
This concept is especially important for us to embrace as the holiday season approaches. Let us be reminded how important it is for us to spend time with our family of believers and to give thanks to God for each other.
“Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives flow with thanksgiving for all he has done” (Colossians 2:7, NLT).