Experiencing God’s Love in the Church seeks to challenge believers to renew their commitment to loving one another, and in so doing, returning to what Christ intended His body to look like. When the world sees God’s people truly loving one another, they will then be more apt to see how the Father sent the Son as a demonstration of His love for them.
1. In the first chapter, the author asks if we really know what love is. He also quotes 1 John 4:8, a verse that was likely the first many of us learned: God is love. He goes on to describe the church in Jerusalem. Name some of the characteristics of that church, and consider how the church mirrored the character of God. What were the results of the love the church showed?
2. One of the subtitles in chapter 3 is “Loving God is Loving Others.” The author asks the question, “What exactly is it that Christ’s love compels me to do?” In the context of the church, consider that question. Are you compelled by Christ’s love to minister to the least of these in your congregation or community? To show love to those who are hurting? Who have sinned? Who aren’t like you? If you were to ask someone in your community who does not attend church, would they agree that your church is an example of the love of Christ?
3. The church at Ephesus was a model church in many ways. They were busy about the work of the church. But John in Revelation chides them for losing their “first love.” Blackaby describes them as a community center or social club, but not a body of Christ. How have churches today fallen into the same trap? Think of the churches in your community. Can you name one or two whose “first love” is evident? How?
4. In chapter 5, Blackaby talks about the importance of prayer in helping the church to carry out its mission of loving people. He says that while many people pray in times of need, few know how to really seek God as we are instructed in Jeremiah 29:11. How does seeking God with all of our hearts, as individuals and as a congregation, help us to love others?
5. A theme of grace and forgiveness is evident throughout the book. Even though we embrace the concept of grace, we can still find it very uncomfortable to accept people who have publicly failed. Recall an example from the book or from your own experience. In that situation, why were forgiveness and grace difficult? Identify some concrete ways for the church as a body to practice forgiveness and grace.
6. Chapter 7 is about practical love, and chapter 8 identifies several particular groups that need the love of their congregations. “Christ has entrusted into our hands the incredible privilege to demonstrate His love to those He created for eternity.” Blackaby describes a number of ways we can practically love people. Which of the ideas he mentions resonates with you and why?
Pray . . .
. . . That as you and members of your congregation study God’s Word, that God will reveal to you more about His character and His love and help you to show that to others in your fellowship.
. . . That God will open your eyes on a daily basis to see the needs around you, both big and small, and that He will grant you the ability to meet those needs in love.
. . . For those who will visit your congregation in the coming weeks, and for those members of your church who will make the first contacts with them. Pray that love will be demonstrated by your members and observed by the visitors, and that your church will be able to minister to them in the most appropriate way.
1. Gather a group of church members to pray weekly for your congregation to seek the heart of God, who is love.
2. Identify someone within your congregation who needs love. Make an intentional effort to minister to that person on a weekly or monthly basis. Encourage your closest friends at church to do the same with other church members. Make every effort to do it without strings attached.
3. For the next four Sundays, engage with two or three new people at church (not necessarily new to the church but outside of your regular circle of friends). Ask about their family, their week . . . and tell them you will pray for them the next week. Then do it! Uncomfortable? Maybe. But if you don’t do it, who will?