Individually, those are three very weighty words. Pair any two and the gravity causes you to pause in an orbit of thought. All three and I'm headed for a crash landing of prolonged contemplation.
But tonight, I'm under the g-force pressure of another weighty thought--the vehicle or means by which God announces that eternal purpose.
Check out Ephesians 3:7-12. I hadn't seen this before. Did you know that we, corporately, are the vehicle for God's eternal purpose? That according to the eternal purpose of God, "the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places"--through the Church!!
The manifold wisdom of God is made known through the Church! Which begs the question, what is the Church? The Greek word just means congregation, or assembly--a gathering of people. And people gather around something. Congress gathers to make laws. Flash mobs gather to sing and dance in public places. What makes the Church different from Congress or or a flash mob, is that the Church gathers to remember and worship Jesus. Any and all people who get together in Jesus' name, inviting the Holy Spirit among them to come do what He does best--glorify Jesus (John 16:13-14)--those people are the Church, doctrinal preferences notwithstanding.
To reiterate, those who gather to glorify Jesus are the Church. The Church is the means by which God announces His eternal purpose. The Church is made up of Christians--literally, little Christs. Other people gave the early Church the nickname Christians (Acts 11:26), because they represented Jesus in their conduct so fully, it was as if they were miniature Jesuses. What was it in their conduct that struck people so intently as to nickname them Christian? Well, Jesus said how His followers would be identified, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
So to bring back around to where I started--how important is it that the people who gather in Jesus' name love each other? Crazy important! The Church is recognized as the Church by the love we show to one another. (And denominational allegiance is not a prerequisite for this love, by the way.) Through the Church, which is bound and recognized by love, the manifold wisdom of God is made known, and God's eternal purpose is accomplished.
They'll know we are Christians by our love. The Church is recognized as the Body of Christ gathered through the way we live out our love for one another. When the Church is recognized, God can then use it to proclaim His eternal purpose to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. The Church is key. And our love is key.
Wow. That's amazing. It seems fitting to borrow a benediction from John, the disciple whom Jesus loved: Therefore beloved, let us love one another.