Christians are hard to love. (Present readership excepted of course!) Church would be a lot easier if everyone was more like me. Like what I like. Dislike what I dislike. That’s the way most clubs or hobbies work. People who are alike get together. God seems to have different ideas. He loves and saves all kinds of people. People very different to me. And they come to my church! Of course, we need to ignore the fact that I’m different to every one of them. And if you’d possibly believe it, there are times I’m hard to love.
In his generosity and wisdom, our triune God has made us all different. He’s saved us. By His own Spirit He’s united us to Christ Jesus. And so united us to one another. To quote High School Musical, we’re all in this together!
It’s a matter of perspective. It’s God’s church far before it’s my church. Difference in unity showing love through the Spirit in the Son gives glory to the Father. Because you’re different to me, you have strengths that I don’t, you can do things I can’t, you have opportunities I don’t. Our differences allow us serve to one another. They help rather than hinder. Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, God tells us this again and again. Welch helpfully reminds us that oneness is not sameness and gives examples in action.
When God is big and people are small we’re free to love. It’s not the same as niceness, it’s not just friendliness, it’s not giving people exactly what they want all of the time, it’s not saying yes to everyone all the time. Welch is practical and insightful and personal in his discussion of love for our church family. “When we live in the fear of the Lord, there is an intensity to our lives. We are zealous to obey, we are no longer indifferent to others, and we have a desire for the church to be brilliant and outstanding. Such desires may mean some late nights and some tasks we would rather not do. Love is certainly not the easy way out.”
Welch finishes with a lovely montage of examples, including his own, about the impact that fear of God can have on life. Since finishing the book there’s been more than once I’ve stopped and thought, “Why did I just say that?” or “I did that to impress them.” It’s an uncomfortable exercise to get to the end of the day and examine what I’ve done motivated by others rather than God. I need God’s grace. I need a big God. I’m glad I’ve read this book.
A friend of mine has a sign on her wall. It says, ‘Audience of One’.