Summary: The command to love each other tends to bring up images of church members smiling and having fun together. We may think of joyful worship, relaxing picnics, or even exciting Bible studies, but what about conflicts and misunderstandings? What about persecu
Purpose: To show that loving believers requires determination and hard work.
Aim: I want the listener to decide to love the body of Christ no matter what.
INTRODUCTION: The Bible talks a lot about loving other believers in Christ’s body, the church. Here is a sample:
Listen to Jesus: John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 15:12, 17 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. This I command you, that you love one another.
Listen to Paul: Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love
1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another...
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Thessalonians 5:13 ... Live in peace with one another.
Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
Listen to Peter: 1 Peter 1:22 ... fervently love one another from the heart,
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Listen to John: 1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:12 ...if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
The command to love each other tends to bring up images of church members smiling and having fun together. We may think of joyful worship, relaxing picnics, or even exciting Bible studies, but what about conflicts and misunderstandings? What about persecutions from the world? What should we do then? Do we despair? Do we walk away?
"Paul did not ask, as do some believers. ’ What will I get out of it?’ Instead he asked, ’How much will God let me put into it?’" 
Vs.24 I. Loving the Church Means Being Loving when it’s Painful
Paul was in prison suffering the persecution that was meant for Christ. Remember that Jesus said, Matthew 5:11Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (NAU)
Christians aren’t persecuted just because of what they believe. They are persecuted because of who they follow. This is why Peter said, 1 Peter 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (NAU)
Jesus made this clear when He said: John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. (NAU)
Paul is going to give us three things that will make it possible for us to love the church when it is hard.
Vs.24a A. Suffer willingly for the body of Christ "I rejoice in my sufferings"
In essence Paul is saying that he is willing to literally give his body for the body of Christ: "in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body."
The point is this; it is often painful to love to other believers. 2 Corinthians 12:15 I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? (NAU) Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. (NAU)
We need to be willing to love others even when you don’t feel like they love you back.
Suffering for Christ, though, should not discourage us because the more suffering we have the more comfort we have. 2 Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (NAU)