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The Results of Loving the Church
I Love My Church Series
Because I Love the Church
Ephesians 5:25-5:32
We’ve been looking at our love relationship with the church.  It stands to reason we ought to love the church because Jesus loves the church.  If it’s special to Him, it ought to be special to us!
Text:  Ephesians 5:25-32
Last week we considered some reasons to love the church.  I suggested to you four of them.  I love the church because of:
        Its Savior
        Its Family
        Its Relationship and
        Its Impact
There are many, many more that we could have mentioned and you could testify as well of times when the church has blessed you and ministered to you and been there for you.  In spite of its wrinkles and spots, it is still the church for which Jesus died and is coming again.  Someone has written:
I think that I shall never see
A church that’s all it ought to be:
A church whose members never stray
Beyond the straight and narrow way;
A church that has no empty pews,
Whose preacher never has the blues,
A church whose deacons always deak,
And none is proud, and all are meek;
Where gossips never peddle lies,
Or make complaints or criticize;
Where all are always sweet and kind,
And all to others’ faults are blind.
Such perfect churches there may be,
But none of them are known to me.
But still, we’ll work, and pray, and plan
To make our own the best we can.
The church may have some faults, but I think we ought to love it and do our best to support it and make it the best it can possibly be. 
Now for most of us in this building, there came a point in time in your life when you came forward and made a public commitment to this church body.  It may have been that here, or through the ministries here, you made a public profession of your faith declaring your love for God and were baptized.  It might be that you were saved somewhere else, and eventually God led you to Ardmore, OK.  And as you prayed and explored God’s will in your life, He led you here, and you joined by letter or statement of your faith.
And so today, here you are a member of Trinity Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Ardmore, OK.  And since you are here, I’m going to assume you support what we do and to put it simply, you love your church.
But what exactly does all that mean? How does that simple statement, “I am a member of Trinity Baptist Church and I love my church”, work its way out in your life?  How does that impact you or influence you or demonstrate itself to others? 
After all, talk is cheap.  It’s one thing to say you love something and quite another to show that love or prove it. 
A man can say, “I love God”.  And you should love God.  There are all kinds of reasons to love God.  You should love God because he first loved you, because he created you, because he provides for you and sustains you, because of the things you have, because he provided a way out for our sins, because He is good, and because we can spend eternity with Him.
But just saying that you love God does not equate to truly loving him.  That love has to be demonstrated.  Love is an action word.
A man can say, “I love my wife”.  And you should love your wife.  There are all kinds of reasons to love your wife.  But just saying you love your wife does not equate to truly loving him.  That love has to be demonstrated.  Love is an action word.
And in like manner, a man can say, “I love the church”.  But just saying that you love the church does not equate to truly loving the church.  That love has to be demonstrated.  After all, love is an action word.
Do you remember after Peter had betrayed Jesus, and Jesus had resurrected from the dead he appeared to Peter. Jesus asked him, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” He then asked Peter again, “Peter do you love me?” He again responded by saying yes.
Finally, Jesus asked him a third time and Peter again told him he did love him. I believe Jesus was trying to make a point. He was trying to say, that if you say you really love me, then show it through the things that you do, and in particular what you do with my people.
So this morning, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.  I want to ask you today, “Do you love the church?” Now if your answer is “No”, then we need visit about your salvation.  But if your answer is “Yes”, then prove it! How?  How do we demonstrate the love for the church that we profess?
Let me give you some of the results that you can look for in your life to evaluate your love for the church.  First of all, because I love my church
I. I Will Submit to Its God-given Ministers
Now just in case you haven’t notice it, God is a God of order. He has set order and structure in how our homes should operate.  You see it in our text in verses 22-24.
That same principle holds true for the church.  God has set order and structure in how the church is to operate. That is why he has set some apart for certain roles within the church.
Turn back a couple of pages to Ephesians 4:11-16
Now doesn’t it make sense that if God went to the trouble to set up the structure, His expectation would be that it function as He designed.  I believe God expects His people to follow the leaders that He gives to a church. 
You may say, “Well I don’t like that arrangement!”.  I will tell you I’m not to crazy about it myself.  But it is God’s church and God’s design, and I’ve discovered when you do it God’s way, He blesses it. 
That doesn’t mean we have to agree about everything and there is no room for discussion and ideas.  But it does mean that we are willing to stand behind and follow God-given leaders. And by the way, notice I said God-given leaders. I never cease to be amazed at churches that call a pastor and then want to tie his hands or be critical of everything that he does.
Listen:  Every church I was ever a part of had business meetings and voted on stuff including calling the pastor.  Now if you voted for a pastor, that means you must have prayed about it and gotten a word from God that it was His will for this man to be your pastor, right? 
I mean surely you didn’t call a pastor just because nobody else wanted to come or he preached a good sermon or his wife played the piano.  Surely all of us are spiritual enough to seek God and discover his will before we do something as serious as calling a pastor.
So what happens when the pastor then begins to lead the church and you disagree?  Either it was God’s will for him to be there and you affirmed that by your vote, or you voted without considering God’s will and mislead the man into believing he was God’s man for the time.
But either way, you are now obligated by Scripture to follow the pastor’s leadership.  Somebody says, “We’ll just run him off”.  Be careful!  You may get your own nose cut off. 
Somebody else says, “I’ll just go join another church”.  You can do that, but let me give you something to chew on:  If the time comes when you disagree and cannot support your pastor, you can leave, but you better make doggone sure you get a word from God to do that, or you just think you’ve got a mess now. 
Sometimes God will release a person to leave and bless them as they do it and sometimes people leave churches without God’s consent and therefore they are outside the will of God, and they will now suffer the consequences.  Leave if God tells you to.  Do it quietly and do it in obedience to His leadership. 
But if He doesn’t then you prayerfully seek God and pray for your pastor and church and determine you will honor Him in what you do.  Unfortunately, all too often, that’s not how it happens, so let me just insert this while passing by:  It is not honoring to Christ to have you threatening to leave the church because you disagree with something. 
That is not showing maturity and humility, but rather exemplifies the attitude that you think the church revolves around you and your preferences and if you don’t get your way, you’ll just take your ball and go home.  I wish you would.  Go play by yourself somewhere and maybe we’ll all be happier!
And by the way, don’t come tell me, “God told you to leave” expecting me to beg you to stay.  I ain’t a’gonna do it!  If you tell me God told you to, far be it from me to get between you and God. 
Come tell me your mad, and we can talk and maybe get things straightened out. We can resolve differences of opinion. But don’t hide your hurt feelings or bruised ego behind the lie that God told you to do it. 
Listen:  The church is not some club you quit when you want to. You don’t quit loving your wife or husband because you have a disagreement.  You made a promise to them for life.
Likewise, you made a commitment to the church for life.  Most of the time God wants us to stay and learn and go through that time for reasons known only to Him.  But whether you stay or go, just know this:
You are under command from God Himself to submit to the spiritual leadership hat He provides.
Hebrews 13:17
Let me give you my loose interpretation of that verse.  It seems to me that God expects us to submit to leadership understanding there will come a day when pastors will give a report on their church to God.
When that time comes and the pastor was in error, God will deal with it.  If the pastor can say, with God as my witness I tried to lead the church and they wouldn’t follow, I tried to do your will and they said “No”, then God will respond by saying, “Thank you very much.  I will handle it from here.”
How blessed is the church where the pastor can give an account to God with joy that his church has obeyed those who had the rule.  There is nothing any closer to heaven than that church.
On the other hand, what grief there is when the church is constantly struggling over who will be in charge and are at odds with one another.
God has called us to submit to an elder’s authority.  That means that with everything that we do, we pray with and for our pastors and seek God with them, we stand behind the decisions they make believing them to be the will of God, and we do it because that is the order that God has set in the church and God has given them the awesome responsibility of leading His churches. 
And I can say to you, not only because this verse teaches it, but because I have experienced it, there is nothing better for a pastor than to know he has the support of the flock which has been entrusted to them.  There is nothing better than to know that the members are on board and on the same team. There is nothing better than knowing the freedom that gives to follow God.
So first of all, because we love the church we should be willing to follow its God-given leaders. 
Here’s the second thing.  Because I love my church,
II. I Will Support Its God-given Mission
Back up to verse 1 of chapter 5
Our obedience to the Great Commission is dependent upon our understanding of that verse.
If we ever grab hold of the fact that we are to love the lost as well as each other in the same way Christ loved us we will turn the world upside down for Jesus. 
The church is to be advancing into the world with the message of the gospel, and yet even though the church may be growing and the numbers increasing, it seems there are fewer and fewer who are will ing to take seriously the commandment to go. 
And yet the single most important task of the church is reaching the lost and this is an area where everyone should participate.
I don’t envy doctors in many ways. I could not imagine how difficult it would be for a doctor to have to come and tell a patient the bad news that they have some disease. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to look someone in the eyes and tell them that their life is limited, but I am thankful that they have the concern to be honest about it. They wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors by not telling them what test results show.
In the same way we are not doing anyone in the world any favors by not telling them about Jesus.  Don’t people deserve to know and understand that there is no hope beyond this life apart from Jesus Christ? The people you come in contact with need to hear that message because they may be dying spiritually and dying spiritually is far worse than dying physically.
Someone really ought to tell them, and because I love my church I will be the one to share its Christ-given love with them.
Here’s the final thing.  Because I love my church,
III. I Will Strengthen Its God-given Ministries
I realize there is much to occupy our time and attention in these busy days.  But I challenge you to arrange your time and energy and resources so that God is not given the leftovers by the very best you have to offer. 
The Bible tells us we are in a battle against the forces of darkness in the world, and the church needs every member and every person that makes her up to put forth a little effort.
That means as a member who loves their church, you have some responsibilities within the church.  Those responsibilities include the development of your own spiritual life. This means that you make certain you are take advantage of the opportunities to hear and learn the Word of God.
It means that you find opportunities to serve. In that same text we read a moment ago from Ephesians 4, we heard Paul say that the church is to be equipped to do the work of the ministry.  One of the greatest lies that was ever propagated by Satan is that the church hires preachers and staff to do the ministry. 
That’s not true.  You don’t hire the staff to do the ministry.  In fact, you don’t hire the staff at all.  Ministerial staff are not hirelings.  They are the ministers sent to you by God to equip you and lead you in doing what God has for the church to do. 
The preacher can’t do it all.  I don’t care how small the church in attendance, it takes more than just a handful to get the work done. 
One of my primary responsibilities is to teach you and feed you spiritually.  I take that responsibility very seriously because as you grow spiritually so does your participation and support of the church.
Listen:  There is a place for you to serve.  There is a job for you to do.  There is a ministry with your name on it.  God has gifted each person with certain talents and abilities necessary for the building up of the church.
There are needs all over the place; for teachers; for nursery workers; van drivers; helpers with the property; it’s amazing how big the job is that needs to be done.
You may be saying, so where do I start?  Let me offer you some practical ways to support the ministries of the church.
First, make a commitment to support your church’s ministries
What the church needs most is not new technology, it is not new programs or methods, but rather it is people committed to prayer.
Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private prayer time. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others because the path would get overgrown with weeds.
Wouldn’t it be great if each person in the church had places that were well worn because of people’s dedication to prayer? What a privilege we have to communicate with our Creator and Savior,!
What a privilege it is that we do not have to go through any man to get to God.  We don’t have to be any particular place, but God wants us to communicate our desires and burdens with him.
Nothing can be more valuable than your prayerful support to the church. And I want to ask you as people who make up the body of Christ here to commit to praying for the church on a regular basis.  We have a specified time every Wednesday night at 6:30.  Deacons, I’m going to ask you to lead.  You told me you would privately in deacon’s meeting.  We advertise that time as deacon-led, and yet some of you never come. 
If you have conflicts on Wednesday, find you a time and pray for your church.  Pray for God to you’re your pastor and staff and teachers wisdom to make good and godly decisions.
Pray for growth in the church both numerically and spiritually.  Pray for those who are sick among us. Pray for the Sunday School and other teaching times that we have regularly that God will work through those classes to equip people to live better lives and serve Him diligently.
Pray for the church finances that we will be good stewards of what God has entrusted us with.
Pray for each other.  As we have needs develop there is nothing more reassuring than the fact that you have people within the church praying for you.
If you love the church then you need to support the church prayerfully.
Then I would suggest you learn to support your church
Nothing fires my up any quicker than to hear people from bad-mouthing their own church.  I hear a couple at a restaurant recently ripping hide on their church. 
I thought about going to them and asking where they attended.  When they told me, I was going to say, “Well I’m new in town and looking for a church and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t go to yours.”
Sadly, you do not have to go far in the world to hear people critical of their church. The world jumps at opportunities to find fault or problem with a church.
We don’t need to beat each other up and tear each other down with our pessimism and criticism of the church, but rather need to support the church in what we say.
How would you feel if your spouse went around telling everyone how awful you are, telling others about all your faults and problems?
You wouldn’t like it!  Then don’t do it to the church you claim to love.  You may not have taken the time to notice but in spite of the faults, there’s some good stuff going on at the church also. 
If you want to find fault in the church you will be able to find it because the church is made up of people full of faults, but I suggest letting our words reflect our verbal support of the church and the mission of the church.
You may disagree with a decision every now and then and not like the way something was done, or where that money was spent. Those times will come, but be sure that you do not fail to see the good that the church is doing.
It is so easy to find and see the bad, but it is a dangerous thing to a church when people verbally assault what is taking place or fails to see the good through the bad because a negative attitude is contagious.
Because you love the church you should verbally support the church is what she seeks to do and accomplish because you stand behind the mission of the church.
Then learn to support your church
Have you ever wondered why people give their money to the places that they do? Why do people support certain charities or causes?
The reason is because they believe in that group or person and what they are trying to do and they want to be a part of it. People are going to invest in those things, which they really believe in.
I know that a lot of people in this world and in the church have a hard time with the concept of giving, but God commands us to give a portion of our incomes to the local church.
I Corinthians 16:1-2
Now keep in mind that giving to the local charities and giving to other groups does not remove you responsibility to tithing to the local church.
A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church "Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself," she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given.
"Well," said the little girl, "I was going to give the dollar, but just before the offering the preacher said that we should be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did."
Perhaps that is the case with some people, but as we love the church it should be a joy to give what is expected of us. The Bible lays down a standard of the tithe.  That seems to be the “getting by” amount.  That’s what is commanded or required by the Old Testament Law. 
The question always comes, “Is the tithe in the New Testament?”  I believe it is, but more that a required 10% is an attitude of loving to give back to God out of gratitude for what He’s done. 
People want to debate over net or gross income.  It just depends on how much you want God to bless.  Give a little; He’ll bless a little.  Give a lot; He promises to bring it back to you “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over”. 
C.S. Lewis once said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
Maybe the reason so many have such a hard time with giving money to God and His church is because they think it’s their money to begin with.  Listen:  You don’t have anything.  It all belongs to God.  You’re just using His stuff for a little while. 
You want to look at the profit and loss sheet and try to figure it out and all you see is a negative with no return.  What you fail to realize is that God blesses those that give.
And by the way, did you notice in those verses that not everyone has to bring the same amount of money, but everyone has to make the same sacrifice.
If you love the church you will support her financially. I am convinced that if every Christian tithed the church would have more money than it would know what to do with.   
J.L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25% of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, "The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord."
What a joy and privilege it is to be able to invest our earthly money on something eternal. I am here today to tell you that we need to stand behind and support the church is all she strives to do.
Do you love the church?  Do you submit to your pastor? Do you support its mission?  Do you strengthen its ministries?
Do you show your love for the church by supporting her is every area of your life, even your wallet?
This Is My Church
It is composed of people just like me.
It will be friendly if I am.
It will do a great work if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am generous.
It will bring others into its fellowship if I bring them.
Its seats will be filled if I fill them.
It will be a church of loyalty and love, of faith and service.
If I who make it what it is, am filled with these,
Therefore, with God’s help, I dedicate myself to the task of being all these things I want my Church to be.
Let’s pray.


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