Many churches die because like the church of Ephesus, they left their first love- Jesus. Apart from loving God in the gospel, we find it nearly impossible to love others- in the church and outside the church. This lack of love has many manifestations.
1. Lack of hospitality. A church without love will not welcome guests well. They will give them the cold shoulder. Nor will they spend much time in each other’s homes. Do you find it odd that practicing hospitality is a qualification to be an elder? I don’t. It is a manifestation of love. Without such love, the fellowship seems cold and distant. Most visitors will pick up on it and probably not return.
2. Selfishness run amuck. Or this could be called the exaltation of preferences. Where there is little love, most people are thinking only of what they want. They are not considering the interests of others. This is what is so disconcerting about the worship wars. People on both sides display such a lack of love for their brothers and sisters. They should want to make sure they are able to worship too. But this affects other programming of churches too. We are so concerned that the church offer programming that meets our needs, but don’t seem too concerned that it offers programming that might meet other needs too.
3. Lack of compassion. Where this is little love there will be little mercy for those in the fellowship that are suffering. People will be so wrapped up in their own little dramas that they won’t be moved to help another.
4. Lack of evangelism. Yeah, I know I covered this seperately. But one cause of a lack of evangelism is a lack of love for the lost. Some people just don’t care about whether or not others are saved, only that they are. This glaring lack of love indicates that such a person may not be saved.
5. Lack of church discipline. This may get its own post, but it too is a manifestation of a lack of love. We may not love people enough to admonish or rebuke them. Scripture says that the “wounds of a friend are faithful.” Real friends tell you the hard things, so you can change. Fake friends don’t- they don’t think it is worth the hassle.
The answer to this lack of love is the gospel (as it is for the other church killers). By faith we believe that we have been loveless, but that Christ has loved us in his obedient life and substitutionary death that we might be forgiven of that lovelessness and empowered by the Spirit to display the fruit of love. God will forgive, but will we repent?