John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Among the many “radical” teachings of Jesus, this verse would have to be put in that category. And what was true back then is still true today – only when a heart has been transformed by the power of the gospel can we truly love another person. A life lived without Jesus is a life lived without love. Sadly, this is the norm in our world. In light of this truth, Jesus knew what a powerful witness it would be for a group of people to actually “love” one another. When the world watched these crazy people who truly loved and cared for one another, they would know that something was different about them. So love for one another within the Body of Christ is a key element in the health of a Church.
A second key element is unity. A healthy church will be united around the cause of Christ and His gospel. Just to clarify, I am using the word unity to describe a group of people who come together for a common purpose. In the Bible, one of the metaphors most commonly used is the Body of Christ. In speaking of our physical bodies, there are hundreds of different parts that come together to form our bodies, but they are all important and all serve a specific purpose, just as God intends. This is instructive because when all the parts come together, you have a healthy, functioning, body. The same is true with the Body of Christ on earth, the Church. If half the parts are not functioning and not being used, you have a sick body that will never perform as it was intended. However, if all the parts are working and functioning together for a common mission, you will have a healthy body that will be used to accomplish the purposes of God. Paul puts it this way in Romans 12:4-8: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
There you have it – two keys to a healthy church. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but in any church where love and unity are missing, you can be sure that church is not a healthy functioning church.