I belonged to a few different groups when I was in high school. One day I was thinking about the differences between the groups. Sport teams valued me if I was helping the team win. Music groups liked me more if I played my part correctly. My performance on tests determined my standing with academic groups.
It was different with the people at church. They simply loved me. Their love wasn’t based on my achievements or performance. I did some singing at church. Sometimes I did well and sometimes I didn’t. Whether I was in tune or out of tune, the congregation still loved me and kept on encouraging me. Their love, support and welcome was different than what I experienced anywhere else. It wasn’t conditional. It wasn’t based on what I did. They loved me because of what Christ had done in loving us and giving His life for us.
I have always had the privilege of being a part of a loving congregation. It has made a huge difference in my life. It has made me a big believer in the importance of everybody having the opportunity to be a part of a congregation where the good news of Jesus is proclaimed, the risen Lord is worshipped and the love of Christ is shared. God wants everybody in every country of the world to be a part of a loving congregation. And so we plant congregations and build up and encourage congregations.
Congregations that love unconditionally demonstrate the love of Christ. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ gave His life on the cross for us not because we earned it but because we needed it. His love for us is not based on our performance. He loves us when we are successful and He still loves us when we fail.
The world’s affection for us comes and goes. God’s love remains forever. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (I John 4:16). Through all the ups and downs of life, we can count on the love of Christ. We give thanks for congregations that help people to know and experience the dependable love of Jesus.