December 17, The Church
Today’s reading: Psalms 76-80
“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us” - Psalm 80:1-2.
Most people apply the psalms to personal problems and read them for personal benefit, and there is nothing wrong with that. Yet some of the psalms were corporate in nature, and Psalm 80 is one of them. The psalmist was not praying “I” or “me” prayers but rather “us” and “we” prayers, for he was concerned about the state of the people of God. The writer knew that his destiny was tied in part to the destiny of the covenant community. This was not simply an ethnic concern, since all of them were Jews, but a concern for the state of the “church.” You also should have a concern not just for your own welfare but also for that of the church, for which Jesus shed His blood for it to be established. Paul wrote about Jesus’ love for the church in Ephesians 5:25-30:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.
Do you love the church? Are you part of one? Do you pray for its welfare? And how about your concern for the larger Church? Do you desire to see it doing well so that your fellow believers can prosper and that God can be magnified in the earth?