Summary: Jesus loves the church very deeply. He is faithful and committed to His church, despite our failures. Let us (1) love the church the way He loves her, and (2) understand our need of the church for our growth.
(Most thoughts in this sermon taken from Joshua Harris’ book ’Stop Dating the Church’.)
How does Jesus see the church?
The passage in Eph 5 is usually heard at weddings - about the love between husband and wife. This is right and good, but these verses also reveal a lot about what Jesus thinks of His church. It tells us how much Jesus loves us - the church.
Take a look at these verses - now focus on what it says about Christ - His relationship with the church and what He has done for us. It is very obvious - Jesus loves the church very much.
• He saves the church (Saviour); He loves the church, He gave Himself up for the church
• He makes her holy, cleansing her to that she would be the radiant church without blemish.
• He feeds and cares for the church.
Jesus’ love for the church is so great - so exemplary - that it becomes the standard for husband and wife to follow. His relationship with the church is the model example for husband and wife. He sets the perfect example - of love, sacrifice and commitment - for the marriage relationship between a man and woman.
The Bible did not say, Christ loves the church just like a husband loves a wife. It’s the other way around - we are to learn from Jesus. Husband and wife are to look to Jesus and His church, and learn what it means to love and cherish one another.
Bro/Sis, do you see the DEPTH OF CHRIST’S LOVE FOR THE CHURCH? How do you view the church today? Do you love what He loves?
To what extent He loves the church? He loves us so much that He gave Himself up for us. He laid down His very life to redeem us.
And He is continually at work to cleanse and prepare us for eternity. We aren’t perfect. No church is perfect. But that doesn’t change His love for us. He is working in our lives - v.26 "to make us holy, cleansing us by the washing with water through the Word", so that one day - v.27 He can present us "a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
Husbands and wives, you would understand this. We do not love our spouse because he/she is without fault or flawless. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t good all the time. Yet we love and stay committed to this relationship. We are there to help each other grow to be a better person.
The sacrifices Jesus makes are for the benefits of the church. His love for His church is not fickle. It is committed. It is unchanging. He intercedes on our behalf constantly before the Father.
His love for His church is so deep, that the next few verses say HE VIEWS US AS HIS OWN BODY. This we can clearly identify - for we all cares for our own bodies. When there is discomfort, we feel the hurt. When there is sickness, we feel sad.
When this Body - the church - is sick, the Lord is sad. When we are healthy and strong, not only are we rejoicing, the Lord Himself is pleased.
When a couple experiences such a love and care, they will be able to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ love for those He died to save. He calls us His own.
That’s the love He has for you today, dear church. Do you see His heart for the church?
He loves the church and wants the best for us.
We often talk about God’s heart for the poor. Or God’s heart for the sick, or the lost. Today, in this passage, we see God’s heart for the church. Let us learn from Him:
(1) LOVE THE CHURCH
We are called to be like Jesus. Let us love what He loves. Let us be committed to the church.
That’s the example Jesus set for us.
We live in a fallen world. Our view of the Church is distorted by human failures and sinful behaviours. We find it hard to love an imperfect church. But we are just "work in progress" - Jesus is still doing the work of cleansing, and moulding us into His likeness.
The Bible says in v.27 that Christ is going "to present her as the radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
In Rev 21:9 the church is described as "THE BRIDE, THE WIFE OF THE LAMB." Jesus loves her.
ILLUSTRATION: INTRODUCING MY BRIDE
A man had been married for over 25 years. One day, as he was sharing with his friend about his family, he reached for his wallet, "Let me show you a picture of my bride," he said excitedly.