A HEALTHY CHURCH LOVES INTENSELY
At the heart of a healthy church is the love of God’s heart. And don’t forget: Jesus so loved. He so loved. God didn’t just love the world. The fact is that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16). Jesus so loved his friends that he laid his life down for them (John 15:13). God so loved us that he sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). A truly healthy church is one that learns to so love the Lord their God and to so love others (Mark 12:31). Howard Snyder has suggested that “when empowered by the Holy Spirit, what the church does best is to love God with all its heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love its neighbor as itself. What it does best, based on this love, is to build a faithful community of Jesus’ disciples. The calling of the church is to really be the body of Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work through all the diverse complexity of the body.” Many local churches love. But a healthy church so loves.
Exhibiting the love that God gives occurs as a church learns to beat in rhythm with God’s abundant heart. The heart of a healthy church beats for God, beats because of God, and it beats with God (Psalm 138:1; Acts 16:14; John 12:26-28). The heartbeat of God is his mission to heal the souls of his creatures and to bring reconciliation to his creation.
Essentially then, the element that pulses through the veins of a healthy church is an intentional, missional love. It is a love that gives up anything and everything so that others may be embraced in God’s love (Genesis 22:2). It is a heart of steadfast love that fully trusts in God and is purely impassioned towards him (Psalm 108:1; Proverbs 3:5; Psalm 24:4). Jesus is the first love of a healthy church because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
 Snyder, Howard A. Decoding the Church: Mapping the DNA of Christ’s Body. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002, p. 43.
This is the sixth part of a series of posts exploring the essential elements that must exist in order for a church to be considered healthy. This material stems from an assignment I completed for my most recent course at ACTS: “Developing a Healthy Church.”