The evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said – “Show me a church where there is love, and I will show you a church that is a power in the community. In Chicago a few years ago a little boy attended a Sunday school I know of. When his parents moved to another part of the city the little fellow still attended the same Sunday school, although it meant a long, tiresome walk each way. A friend asked him why he went so far, and told him that there were plenty of others just as good nearer his home. ‘They may be as good for others, but not for me,’ was his reply. ‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘Because they love a fellow over there,’ he replied.”
Though many churches have built elaborate buildings and incorporated much of modern technology, it is the presence or absence of genuine love that determines whether or not they become a great church. Most people who attend church want meaningful relationships and to be loved. Moody went on to say –
“If only we could make the world believe that we loved them there would be fewer empty churches, and a smaller proportion of our population who never darken a church door. Let love replace duty in our church relations, and the world will soon be evangelized.” (Moody’s Anecdotes, pp. 71-72)
Moody’s thoughts are in agreement with our Lord taught –
John 13:34 “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” CSB
It was the early Christian, Tertullian, who pointed out that it was the Christians’ pure love that caused their enemies to marvel. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another.’ (Apology 39)
Though the early Christians were often attacked and accused of doing preposterous things, it was their genuine Christ-like love that best defended them before their accusers. The same should be true for the church today. Pure love is powerful. It can shut the mouth of critics; it can draw in a skeptic; and it can cause a boy to walk all the way across town, just to attend Sunday School. “They love a fellow over there…” the little boy replied to his friend. May that be said of our church as well.