The Church is the bride of Christ.
"...Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25b-27
The Church is the bride of Christ and we should treat her as such.
The Church, through the power of God, is also a major instrumental in bringing about change in the lives of individuals and nations. We should treat her as such.
I firmly believe that one cannot reach Christian maturity without being a part, a.k.a. member, of a local church and loving the Church Universal. Being a member of the church is so important and the local church is the way that we can effectively do that. This post isn't about that, but here's a link to a post that is.
What I want to share today is a practical way to love the Church Universal. When I say the Church Universal I mean every Christian in the world versus local church which is the local body of believers that has covenanted to love and serve one another and Christ.
We pass a lot of church buildings every day. As you drive if you take notice you'll see a number of steeples. Many times we fail to notice them; other times we notice them and think of all the reasons we're not a member of that church, we think of the theological differences, musical styles or dress codes that keep us from going into that church building on Sundays. Often when we point out these differences in our minds or out loud to another we think we're mature because we just dissected all the reasons a "true Christian" wouldn't go there, when in fact we are being wildly immature and are picking apart the very bride of Christ. We aren't more mature because we put down a local church, we are less mature and I'm guilty of doing this.
So, here is the practical way to practice love toward a small part of the Church Universal: when you see a church building pray for that local church. I call these Steeple Prayers.
Steeple prayers don't have to be long and complex, a sentence will do fine. The complexity of a prayer doesn't make it effective, the One prayed to does.
Here's some examples of Steeple Prayers:
"God, I pray for the unity of Peace U.C.C. Give them unity with you and with one another."
"Dear Lord, give Heritage Methodist. a love for your truth. Let them hold on to it firmly."
"Heavenly Father, use St. Paul's Lutheran to reach the people of this town with the Gospel."
"God, please help the Vineyard understand how wide and long, high and deep is love of Christ for them."
"Dear Lord, strengthen the leaders of Riverwood to lead the church well. May they grow in numbers and in depth of love for you."
"Lord, give St. John Lutheran the wisdom to know how to use the many gifts you've given them. Make them effective in furthering your Kingdom in our community."
Steeple Prayers don't need to be complex, but I guarantee they will be effective. God will answer your prayers for that local church in His infinite power wisdom and He, through your own prayers, will grow your love for the Church Universal in, as Al Roker says, your neck of the woods. It is hard not to love and cheer for people you're praying for.
Do this for me, try Steeple Prayers for one week. I promise that you'll be surprised by the number of church buildings you see and the way your excitement for the successes of the local churches around you will grow. Who knows, after a week you may have a new powerful habit.
Offer Steeple Prayers with me this week and let's begin today.