Summary: The church was designed to be an irresistible community. Yet people are not always drawn to it. How can we change that?
4. An Irresistible Community: 1 Corinthians
March 28, 2010
If one word was all that was allowed to describe the person of God and the essence of who He is, if we had only one word we could use to show His character that word would have to be love. God is love. This is without a doubt the most defining characteristic of His nature. God without love is like an Oreo cookie without the crème center, God without love is not God. God is love because God loves, and not just the people who are easy to love. God loves the unlovable. God loves those who don’t deserve love. He loves the imperfect. He loves the broken. He loves the hurting. He loves the lost. God loves: without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, without condition. God loves.
God loves the church. So much so that in Scripture Jesus refers to the church as His bride. In essence the love between a husband and wife is a physical representation, a shadow of the love that God has for His church. I heard a sermon a few months ago where Matt Proctor described the church as the theatre where God chooses to manifest His glory. God loves the church so much that it is the central place where He reveals His awesome power. The church is the most beautiful creation in the eyes of God. He loves her so much that He sent His Son to give His life for her. If God loves the church that much, shouldn’t we do the same? If we are truly going to call ourselves His children shouldn’t we love the church enough not just to attend but to get connected to and to invest.
The first mark of a living church is love. What this means is that love is one of the primary characteristics that makes a church irresistible. John Piper says: “Genuine love is so contrary to human nature that its presence bears witness to an extraordinary power.” When we love each other with the love of God our lives become a testimony to the power and the person of God and when others see it, many of them will be drawn to it. The central desire of every person is to love and to be loved and yet outside of a relationship with God we don’t really understand how to satisfy that desire. So when the world sees a community of love many of them will be drawn in. Love is what makes a church irresistible for the true and unconditional love that we have cannot be found anywhere else. If you would open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13:1. Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians is possibly one of the most powerful, meaningful, and insightful passages in all of the New Testament. This chapter has been called the ‘greatest, strongest, deepest thing Paul ever wrote.’ But not only this, it is perhaps the deepest passage on love in the entire Bible. Now Paul has just been writing about the different Spiritual gifts explaining them and noting a bit about how they are used and then he moves to love indicating that this is more important than any Spiritual gift.
1Co 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1Co 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1Co 13:3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1Co 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1Co 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 1Co 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1Co 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1Co 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 1Co 13:10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1Co 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1Co 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.