The Commission of Christ’s Church – Love and Holiness Displayed

Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body …. the church is subject to Christ …. Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:23B, 24A, 25B-27
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. John 20:21

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

Our devotional set for this week and the one for next week fit in nicely with our “Missions” emphasis during the month of November. Each week has five devotionals (Monday through Friday). God has commissioned his church to impact the world with the gospel. “What we are like” as God’s people in the world has awful lot to do with “what we proclaim” being effective in reaching the world. This understanding is a significant one as we proceed with this week’s devotional set.

A helpful word to begin this week is “contrast.” Our lives are full of contrasting components: work and play, difficult and easy, cheap and expensive, harmful and helpful, foe and friend, etc. Contrasts are very much a part or the workings of our faith as well: right and wrong, true and false, love and hate, good and evil, God and Satan, Spirit and flesh, belief and unbelief, heaven and hell, etc. In all of these contrasts the goal is to have all of the good side of the contrast and none of the bad side. There is a pairing of two words in the first Scripture above – love and holy - that stand in contrast to each other but are contrasted in a very different way than our previous contrasts. They are not meant to be all of one and none of the other nor are they meant to be some of one and some of the other. Rather, they are meant to be all of one and all of the other. This week we examine the nature and work of the “church” and the “contrast” of love and holiness will form the basis for our considerations.

Two additional words come to us from the second Scripture above: grace and truth. They are quite similar to love and holiness. We can put grace together with love and truth (truth is that which is right or righteousness) together with holiness. Jesus came to display for the world both grace (love) and truth (holiness) and He did so fully and completely. It was not an either-or thing nor was it a some of one and some of the other thing. The contrast is between grace/love on the one side and truth/holiness on the other side. Who Christ is in His being, how He lived while here on the earth, and what his giving of Himself redemptively on the cross accomplished, are all a combined outpouring of 100 % grace/love and 100 % truth/holiness.

Love and holiness are put in contrast not for any intended division between the two. The contrast between the two is necessary to help us as God’s people deal with the problem of the unintended division we have created between the two. Jesus commissions His people in the same way His Father commissioned (sent) Him as seen in our third Scripture above. We have already seen that He came to the world from His Father full of grace and truth. It is therefore very clear that we have been commissioned (sent) to bring grace (love) and truth (holiness) to the world. The church at large strays away from this commission so often and so easily. Some churches major in love and miss holiness. The result is not only a lack of holiness but an offering of love that is shallow and temporary. Some churches major in holiness and miss love. The result is not only a lack of love but a holiness that is exacting and selective. God has been merciful to us as a church. Our leadership has championed the pursuit of both. They have embraced fully the pursuit of love and holiness for themselves and for the people of our church. Because it is understood that a climate of unconditional love nurtures genuine holiness, we embrace and foster unconditional love as the true heartbeat of our church.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, thank you for your amazing plan. What a blessing to be a part of a church that has the right heartbeat. I am grateful for all you are doing to produce that heartbeat in me as well. May your love and holiness so fill my life that you are able to use me fully to bless the lives of those who need redemption in Christ. Amen!

All Devotionals