In my last blog post, I shared a quote from Eugene Peterson regarding the reasons that we are exhorted not to neglect our gathering together with our family in Christ. Recently, I have found a similar admonition while reading Alistair Begg’s recent book, Pray Big.
In Chapter 7, Alistair expounds on the following passage, “… that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
How is that God answers the Apostle’s prayer? Alistair says that He does it through the church. “First, you will not comprehend the love of God in Christ in isolation from “the saints.” This is not something that happens to us on our own in our bedrooms, or on a silent retreat. The love of Christ is discovered corporately. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a church family to recognize how loved we are. It takes the entire family of God—the family that we’ve met and those that we haven’t met, those that have gone before us and those that will come after us—to be able actually to get an inkling of the nature of God’s love.”
God’s gift of salvation is a sovereign work in the life of each believer. To this work we can add nothing, it’s complete, it’s finished. But part of our ongoing sanctification comes through our fellowship and our commitment to the family of God in the local church. There, He uses our brothers and sisters in Christ as His chosen, shaping instruments in our lives. It’s here that we learn to love and to be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, to confess and hear confessions, to consider others and their needs as more important than our own.
My flesh tends to recoil at the call of the One Another admonitions. But, my friend, there is not an ounce of loss programmed into any of this. Think of it in this way, if I am in a room filled with 100 people who are endeavoring, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to truly love one another, how much love will be coming my way in comparison with what I am called to give? 99 to 1 is ratio, not a bad return, is it?
But, as with everything else in the Christian life, we must be willing to take steps of faith and obey the call of God to love One Another just as Christ has loved us.