“…without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9-10)
The purpose of the Christian life is to know and make known the love of God in Christ, beginning with how we relate to the church. Jesus told His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). And Paul said, “…do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). As Christ-followers, it seems like one of our most basic instincts should be to love our church family.
At this point, though, things start to break down. Should we love others? Yes, of course. Do we love others? If we’re honest, that question probably involves a more, shall we say, “storied” answer.
In reality, loving others isn’t easy, even—if not especially—in the church. It seems like it’s always been this way. Paul warned the believers in Galatia, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But. . .you bite and devour one another” (Gal. 5:14–15). Paul was confronting these Christians with their inability to fulfill the law, particularly when it came to how they related to one another. If you think about it, we’re not so different.
Left to ourselves, we cannot love one another as we ought. We too need to be confronted with our inability. And this confrontation occurs most fundamentally through prayer, since prayer is an act by which we “own” our inability so that we can trust fully in God. Therefore, when it comes to loving our church family, prayer must be our starting point. Richard Foster’s observation is clarifying: “If we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is in our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer.”
We have numerous examples of this in Scripture, such as David (Ps. 122:6-7), Isaiah (Is. 62:6-7), Epaphras (Col. 4:12), Paul (Rom. 1:9-10; Phil. 1:4-5), and Jesus Himself (Jn. 17). Why? Because these biblical figures knew that praying for the church was synonymous with loving the church. I wonder, Do you see it that way? Do you have a conviction to pray for LifePoint? If not, perhaps it’s because you haven’t fully grasped what Jesus said: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus would later tell His disciples, “…apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). If not for prayer, this would be incredibly discouraging news, because—let’s face it—love isn’t easy. But, as it stands, it is far from discouraging, because we don’t have to try and love others without Jesus. By giving us the gift of prayer, He has put us in touch with the heart of “our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9).
Thus when we pray, we come to find out just how loved we are—and what’s more, we discover what it really means to love one another. So let us put this gift of prayer to good use for the sake of LifePoint and her mission. Will you pray for our Sunday services and this weekend’s Night of Worship? Will you pray for Community Groups? For StudentLife and KidLife? For LifePoint’s elders and staff?
If it’s true that we are nothing without love—and it is (1 Cor. 13:2)—then the same must be said of prayer. Without a faithful devotion to prayer, the church can’t do or be anything that matters for the world.
Set List for Sunday, October 07, 2018
Whole Heart (S. Curran, E. Cash, L. Giglio, B. Younker, M. Malone)
What A Beautiful Name (B. Fielding, B. Ligertwood)
I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous) (C. H. Gabriel, C. Tomlin)
How Great Is Your Love (K. Stanfill, P. Wickham, B. Younker)
Center My Life (A. Ivey, B. Land)