Can You Love Jesus but Not Love His Church?

Good Question.

If you asked most Christians if they loved The Church they would probably answer in the affirmative. But many would have some mental qualifications.

I love The Church but not all of the people in it.

I love The Church, just not MY church.

I love The Church, it’s Christians I can’t stand.

I love the Church but I don’t need it.

According to a Barna survey, 10% of self-identifying evangelical Christians don’t attend church anywhere. They say that they love Jesus, they just don’t love His church. And the percentage is growing – slowly, but growing.

There are inconsistencies here. As Mark Galli, the Editor in Chief of Christianity Today pointed out in a recent article, can people really say that they love Jesus if they “refuse to participate in the community he promises to be present in?” Seems rather inconsistent.

The problem goes even deeper. Can people say that they love Jesus if they consciously choose not to do what He said to do? Hebrews 10:24-25 can’t be any clearer about our responsibility in regard to church attendance. Neither can John 14:15 be any clearer about the standard we are to use to judge our love for Jesus.

You can’t say that you love Jesus if you don’t do what Jesus said to do and you’re not doing what Jesus said to do if you don’t attend church. Pretty simple really.

The real issue here is not attending church verses not attending church. The real issue is an issue of the heart. Will we or won’t we bend our hearts to His will?

There are numerous reasons for the Christian to attend church. Among the most obvious are, Obedience, Worship, Fellowship, Instruction, Ministry, Exercising your Spiritual Gift, and Encouragement. Things that you can’t accomplish or experience on the same level as a Long Ranger Christian.

But the most important reason to attend church is because you love Jesus. Christians who say that they love Jesus but don’t love His church are demonstrating theological inconsistency at the highest level.

You can’t separate Jesus and His Church. To love one is to love the other. To be faithful to one is to be faithful to the other.

It’s no stretch to say, You love Jesus best when you love His church.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Do We Really Love Jesus?

Occasionally I read something that is unique, something that shares an insight that I’ve never heard before. It doesn’t happen often (not because I’m so well-read as because there is very little original material out there), but it happened recently. John Piper’s website posted an article by Marshall Segal with the title You Can Love Ministry and Miss Jesus. It’s primarily directed to those in full-time ministry but it can be beneficial for all Christians. If you’re interested you can read it here.

That article caused me to think about something that I’ve not thought of before and to ask another, similar question: Do We Really Love Jesus?

Or do we merely love the things about Jesus?

Do we serve God because we love Jesus or because we love what we’re doing?

Do we attend church because we love Jesus or because we love the idea of church?

Do we love other Christians because we love Jesus or because they’re good people?

Do we worship Jesus because we love Him, or because we love the music or the uplifting experience?

Do we pray because we love Jesus or because we love the idea of prayer?

Do we love the Christian life because we love Jesus or because we’re comfortable in that kind of life?

To paraphrase a statement made by Marshall Segal, What captivates your heart more: Jesus or the things about Jesus?

I find this an uncomfortable place to go. I love studying the Word of God. I love teaching the Word both in our local church and in the classroom setting. I love my annual missions trips to Haiti. I love being in full-time ministry. I love everything (well almost everything) about ministry. But do I love Jesus?

Do I do what I do because I love Jesus or because I love what I do? Very convicting.

If you could only do one or the other – love Jesus or preach a sermon; love Jesus or go on a missions trip; love Jesus or sing the latest Hillsong or Chris Tomlin song; love Jesus or hang out with your small group; love Jesus or go to church on Sunday – which one would you choose?

I understand that it’s not an either/or proposition – it’s both/and, but just for fun, choose one or the other.

It’s a good way to gauge your heart, your affections.

When Jesus was asked to name the greatest of all the Old Testament commandments, he didn’t say anything about serving, praying, worshipping, going on a missions trip, or singing the latest contemporary song or even your favorite hymn.

He talked about our affections. Love God to the max. That’s our highest duty. Our highest aim. Our highest goal.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

Everything else is extra.

Don’t confuse what I’m saying. Serving, praying, worshipping, missions trips, singing, praising etc are all VERY important in the Christian life.

But not as important as loving Jesus.

It’s not an emotion, although your emotions certainly enter into it. It’s a mindset. Jesus first. Jesus last. Jesus always.

Loving Jesus means that your life is all about Jesus.

It is possible to do many things for Jesus but not love Jesus as your highest priority. When that happens we’ve missed our calling. When we love the things about Jesus more than we love Jesus we don’t really love Jesus.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve