Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Scripture Verses Psalm 103; Ephesians 5:21-32 Worship Playlist All Creatures of Our God & King by Sovereign GraceResurrecting by Elevation WorshipSpirit of God, Flame of Love by New Life Worship Downloads & Resources A Covenant Community Dr. Jon Morrissette - 8/7/2022 Over the next few weeks, we’re doing a series we are calling: “I Love My Church.” The other night we visited Texas Roadhouse and all the staff were wearing shirts that said, “I Love My Job.” Maybe everyone there really does love their job? Maybe it’s a marketing strategy? Or, a strategy to attract new workers? You probably notice on Social Media how people will post, “I love my husband… I love my wife… I love ______.” And then they post all the ooey-gooey pictures. Sometimes I wonder, “Are you trying to convince your followers… or are you trying to convince yourself… about what you love?” Don’t think of this series as a marketing strategy, or some boast. Think of it as a kind of covenant, or pledge. A personal resolution. “I love my church.” Church is who I am, it’s what I do. Now we should think of church in a few different ways. First, there is the Big “C” Church. There is the Kingdom of God. Within God’s Kingdom we’re not the only Christians (or the only church), we’re Christians only. All of us are called to honor, serve, and love the big “C” Church. It’s just like this with marriages and families. We’re not the only ones who are married or have families. In this sense, all of us have a duty to respect and strengthen marriages and families everywhere. Yet there’s still the little “c” church. Lakeside is one of hundreds of churches in Sangamon County. Once I counted, and there were over 300 churches in just the greater Springfield area. In the book of Acts there was the church at Jerusalem, Corinth, Galatia, Colossae, Philippi, Ephesus. From the beginning God’s people have always organized into local fellowships. The reason is that God never intended us to act like a bunch of freelancers. You know, here today, gone tomorrow. There are so many Christians today who float around from place to place. They imagine that they can be part of the “Big C” Church without ever anchoring themselves into a local “little c” church. It’s like a man who imagines himself to be a Father, or Dad. Or a woman who imagines herself to be a Mother, or Mom. They move from place to place, house to house, relationship to relationship. Yet they never put their roots down anywhere. Now what kind of home, what kind of family, what kind of children would you end up with if mom and dad never got glue on their feet? What would come of Christ’s church if every Christian just floated about, never really committing themselves to any one body? Love cannot be a hollow boast. To say “I Love My Church” means you have a church, a place to lay your roots, a people with whom you’ve covenanted to grow. Last week we talked about the difference between God’s “goodness” and “love.” God’s general goodness touches all people everywhere. He causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous. He gives good gifts. He gives wisdom to all who ask without finding fault. But God has a particular kind of love that in the Old Testament is called “Hessed” and in the NT is called “Agape” love. We see hessed and agape love time and again in the Bible. When God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 he said, “Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” God wasn’t just making a general commitment to Abraham. God was making a hessed or agape pledge to show faith love to Abraham, to lead him and guide him, to make him into a great nation and people, to bless him and not curse him. Why if anyone blessed Abraham, they were blessing God Himself. And if anyone messed with Abraham, well then they faced the full fury and wrath of God. We probably wear out Romans 8. But in Romans 8 Paul amplifies this idea when he asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Here is what we know about God’s kind of hessed or agape love. God’s love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect people, in which God gives Himself sacrificially (again and again, faithfully) in order to bring about his intended purpose. We know from the Bible how people could become stubborn in their rebellion. Yet what do we see? God can be infinitely more stubborn in love. For God love isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And the marathon isn’t over until God has exhausted his love on his children. Psalm 103 extols God’s faithful love. “My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. 3 He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. 4 He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. 5 He satisfies you with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 The Lord executes acts of righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He revealed his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love. 9 He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. 10 He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his faithful love toward those who fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. 14 For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass—he blooms like a flower of the field; 16 when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known. 17 But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear him, and his righteousness toward the grandchildren 18 of those who keep his covenant, who remember to observe his precepts. 19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, all his angels of great strength, who do his word, obedient to his command. 21 Bless the Lord, all his armies, his servants who do his will. 22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all the places where he rules. My soul, bless the Lord!” I thank God for his goodness every day. But more than this, I praise him for his faithful hessed or agape love. If you are in Christ, God isn’t just good to me, He is faithful to me, He is for me, He blessed me, forgives me, heals me, redeems me, sanctifies me, satisfies me, crowns me with good things, renews my strength, blots out my transgressions. If you were to begin to make a list of all the benefits God gives those who love him, no book could contain them. But now God wants us to love one another as he first loved us—and not with a generic love, but a faithful kind of covenanting love. What is the Church? What does it mean to “love my church.” Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect people, in which like God we give ourselves sacrificially to God and one another (again and again, faithfully) in order to bring about God intended purpose! God’s chosen metaphor, that he used time again to quantify his faithful love was marriage. God saw himself as the groom, the husband of his bride Israel. Oh, how Israel could be unfaithful, idolatrous, promiscuous, adulterous! But God kept taking back his unfaithful bride because he refused to disown his own nature. And how did Christ see the church? Jesus saw himself as the groom, the husband of his bride the Church. There are no perfect churches—just look at the New Testament. But what does Christ do? He faithfully loves the church (us imperfect believers) with an unconditional, ferocious hessed or agape love. God marks us and seals us and fills us with his own Holy Spirit. Jesus continually gives himself to us, dying for us even. It’s his faithful love that ought to be earmark of the church! One of the most remarkable passages in all the New Testament at first appears to be about marriage. Ephesians 5:21-32, “[submit] to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” The same DNA of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The DNA that makes for an indestructible marriage, and indestructible family. This same DNA makes for an indestructible church. Imagine every man being for his wife, every wife being for her husband as God was for Israel, as Christ was for the church! Imagine every member of the body of Christ being “for” one another—seeing in love that God’s intended purpose be brought to fruition and never derailed. What does it mean for Paul to say we are “members of one another.” What does it mean to have a one flesh mentality not just in marriage, but in the church? What does it mean not just to wear a T-Shirt, but from our heart live in covenant to one another… to say but more importantly pledge ourselves to one another, “I love my church.” This is what were going to spend a few weeks unpacking. What does it mean to love my church… not just Christ’s “C” Church but this “c” church?