For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face…
In the previous passage, Paul shared the sufferings of his ministry and his willingness to continue suffering for the sake of the church. Now he is letting them know that even though he has not met some of them face to face, he longs for them. We see a picture of Paul’s pastoral heart for the good of the people. He wasn’t just serving out of duty; he was serving out of love.
Typically, it might be easy to pass over this verse. However, this verse is easier to relate to since we are currently in the midst of a pandemic and we are separated from one another. Instead of gathering each week with our local church, we are all staying home and watching online. We are thankful to God for the technology that allows us to do this, but we all know that it simply isn’t the same. The word “church” means “gathering” or “assembly.” God has planned it so that we grow in our spiritual walk as we meet with each other regularly for mutual encouragement and teaching. We not only want this but, in God’s design, we need it.
Many have tried to argue that they have a relationship with Jesus without being involved in a regular, local church gathering. Such ideas make sense to modern man’s understanding, but they are simply unbiblical. If we love Jesus then we love what Jesus loves. He loves his church. He died for her and he’s coming back for her. Is she perfect? By no means! But, God is washing his church with the water of his word “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
The church isn’t able to gather at this time, but I hope, like Paul, our hearts are longing to see each other again. As we feel this longing, may it give us a deeper appreciation for God’s church and a desire to be together again. When you feel such longing, let it serve as a reminder to check on one another and encourage someone with a call, text, message, etc.
- Do you see the importance of being a part of the church? Do you recognize the church is God’s design and not man’s?
- Who in your local church can you call/text/message today?