CHAPTER 20-CHURCH LOYALTY #Eph 5:22
Among our many needs we need to be more church conscious. But in being church conscious we must be careful that it is the fruit of being Christ conscious. It is quite possible for one to be church conscious and yet have little or no thought of Christ. One may be a worker in the church and yet not love Christ. But one cannot love Christ and despise Christ's church.
Dr. Lee: ``Church members need to confer with themselves often concerning the warmth and strength of their church loyalty. The Christian who is loyal to his church above all other institutions is like the man who is loyal to his wife above all other women, and like the patriot who is loyal to his flag above all other nations; and like the child who is loyal to his father and mother above all other men and women.''And he further says that the person who regards the obligations of any relationship lightly is a light weight.
One may love the church for its material benefits and have no love and appreciation for its spiritual ministry. We ought to love the church for Christ's sake and if we love it for His sake we will love it for its ministry of Christ and His word. We will be loyal to its teaching and preaching ministry. Our minds may trick us here. We may be loyal to the church in a program of eats and entertainment and have little sympathy for its spiritual ministry. The man who is more eager to attend a banquet than the prayer and preaching service of his church is not Christ conscious. The woman who had rather serve in the kitchen than to sit in the upper room to learn of Jesus Christ is not church conscious in the proper sense.
The word church seems to be used in Ephesians in the mystical sense. It consists only of saved people, and is considered in the making, to be completed when the day of salvation is ended. There is a sense in which only the born again are church members. The lost are in the church only in our eyes and not as Christ sees them. They are in the church only as being outwardly tied on and not as being vitally connected and drawing sap and life from Christ, the head.
l. It is His body. He is the head of the church to control it. The church is subject to Him, and as members we must be subject to Him. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (#Eph 1:22). The church has no earthly head.
2. It is His bride. The church is the object of His undying love. He took the sweetest and most sacred of all human relationships to illustrate the relationship between Himself and His church. No bride has ever been loved as Christ loved the church. No husband has ever given himself to his wife as Christ gave Himself for the church.
3. Of what Christ has already done for the church. He gave Himself in death for it. He could not have the church He wanted without dying for it. He couldn't choose a bride for its beauty. He chose it and died for it while it was still in an ugly and sinful state. Men choose their brides because of their beauty and worth, but Christ chose a bride that had no beauty and worth. He chose her to make her worthy and beautiful. The beauty and glory of the church cost Christ His life on the cross. He had to go down into the depths of shame to get the pearls with which to adorn the bride. He had to suffer to make her sinless. He had to die to give her life. The church was important to Christ and therefore it ought to be important to us. Christ cares little for empires, and kingdoms, and democracies. They will all fail and come to naught. The church is the only living and eternal institution.
4. The church is important because of what Christ is yet going to do for it. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (#Eph 5:27). There will not be a pimple of imperfection when Christ is through with His church. In #Re 19:7 John gives an account of the coming wedding day "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (#Eph 3:21).
How are we to show our love to the church?
1. By faithful attendance upon its service. The word church means an assembly and the members must assemble. They can't do much for Christ and remain apart. They must "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together". We need a sensitive conscience on church going. It is hard to convince some folks that it is a sin to neglect church attendance. One of the best ways to cripple the influence of the church is to stay away from its meetings. And this is about the best way to show contempt for the church.
A columnist recently said in speaking on loyalty: "Funny, even people who laugh at loyalty in a man somehow admires it in a dog." And a preacher recently said, "Loyalty is appreciated, admired and praised when found in lower animals. The dog that is loyal to his master is respected. Many dogs show themselves of finer quality in this regard than some people."
Dr. Lee: ``The word loyalty seems to have gone on a voyage and been lost in shipwreck on a trip and can not find its way back. The church member who is not loyal to his church is as worthless and undependable as houses without foundations, as ships without rudders, as unarmed soldiers in battle, as dishes without food when the hungry are to be fed.''