When two people get married, they are often full of heightened emotions and delight in each other. They are in the honeymoon stage: the other person can do no wrong! But in time, reality sinks in and the initial excitement fades way: each of them realizes they have married a sinner and the happy feelings are not always present. Then a decision must be made: will I die to self, sin, and selfishness and show genuine committed love for my spouse, or will I move on (physically or emotionally)? Many have said this is when a married person really learns to love, after the initial months and years of excitement fades.
I think the same can be said about longevity in a look church. There might initial excitement and enthusiasm about joining a particular local church. Maybe there is a thrill over connections with people of one’s own lifestyle, or excitement over certain programs offered, or an attachment to a particular kind of preaching. But in time, a decision will have to be made: will I love my brothers and sisters even after the initial feelings of excitement fade? Will I love those whose personality rubs up against mine? Will I love those who are very different from me? Will I love even I don’t feel like? Will I love even when things are not going in the direction I hoped?
This is what 1 Cor 13 calls us to: genuine, sacrificial love for the other in our local churches. This is a beautiful love. This is the kind of love marked by those who are disciples of Jesus.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35