20 Quotes on How Your Church Should Exhibit Loving Authority
20 Quotes on How Your Church Should Exhibit Loving Authority

The following quotes caught my attention as I read Jonathan Leeman’s helpful book The Rule of Love: How the Local Church Should Reflect God’s Love and Authority (Crossway, 2017).


Love is not an abstract concept but a personal quality of God. . . . Anything called love that does not have its source in God is not love. (13)

Don’t judge a gift by its abuses. (21)

In a sense, this book is like a prequel or a prolegomena—a pre-word—to thinking about and living as the church. Many Christians today have a hard time grasping what the church is, because so many of our intuitions about love and authority are compromised. (23)

People today worship not just the god of love but the god of options. . . . As a result, the idea of commitment is removed from the ingredients of love. (31)

The local church should be the antidote to both individualism and tribalism, a place where each person stands individually before God and as a member of a new people and family. (33)

We’re no longer duped into worshiping carved figures, but statistical figures do impress us. (35)

God’s love simultaneously attracts and repels all of us. It’s a thing of beauty and a thing of gross offense to the fallen heart. Gaze upon the love of God from one angle, and it will appear as the most resplendent thing in all the universe. But walk a few yards and look up again, and you will find that your lip snarls, your fists clench, and your heart becomes morally offended. (42)

The purpose of drawing lines [through church membership] is to say: “Here is a fountain of clean water; drink from it. Here are a people who love me with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Do you see how attractive this blessed life is? Do you not want to repent and join them?” The line of exclusion means to provoke the desire for inclusion. It’s a closed door, but it’s a glass door that people can see through and open with the mere push of repentance and faith. (48)

Selfish love always looks like gain, but it always yields loss. (78)

Lest there be any confusion, every form of love, both healthy and unhealthy, imposes a set of laws. The love of a healthy body yields the laws of the diet. The love of learning yields the requirements of study. The love of a mistress rewrites the laws of marriage in the adulterer’s mind. What he formally deemed unacceptable he now tells himself is good and necessary. Love and law, or love and authority, are inseparable. The only question is, what do you most love? Right love leads to right obedience. Wrong love, to wrong obedience. And the standard of right is always the supremacy of God. God is best. (83)

A church that chooses to emphasize God’s love but not God’s holiness is a church that doesn’t actually understand what God’s love is. (84)

One of the greatest ironies of the postmodern West might be this: that pleasure for which our culture most emphatically rejects God—sex—is the very thing God has given humanity so that we might have an analogy, a category, a language for knowing what the unadulterated enjoyment of him will be like in glory. (94)

The fire of the Father’s affection for the Son is so great that he wants hundreds of millions of faces to look just like Jesus’s face. (101)

The Christian doctrine of justification is like love draped in a judge’s wig. (103)

If we have not covenanted together with a local church, how do we know we’re not self-deceived about our commitments? (110)

More than the headline makers, it’s the daily life of the average Christian that ultimately forms the world’s perception of Christ and his gospel. (115)

Abandoning the practices of membership and discipline overlooks the evangelistic power of exclusion, to say nothing of the biblical pattern (e.g. Matt. 18:15–17; 1 Cor. 5). Paul, however, saw no conflict between characterizing the Corinthians as “ambassadors of reconciliation” and simultaneously calling them to separate themselves as a people (see 2 Cor. 5:20; 6:17). The evangelistic power of exclusion is the power of salt and light. It’s the power of distinctness. People see something different that they don’t have, and they want it. (127)

Good authority works not just from the top down but also from the bottom up. Picture me at Disneyland, one daughter on my shoulders, another in hand, and chasing the third and fourth around the park doing all I can to please them. Or picture my wife driving from ballet practice to softball practice to piano practice. Like the authority of God, who is the “rock” on which we stand, so loving authority in creation is often about laying your life down as a platform on which others build their lives. That’s what I mean when I say it’s not just top-down; it’s also bottom-up. “I’ll supply you, fund you, resource you, guide you”—bottom-up. Yet also, “Here are the rules”—top-down. It’s both. Good authority binds in order to loose, corrects in order to teach, trims in order to grow, disciplines in order to train, legislates in order to build, judges in order to redeem, studies in order to innovate. Trust me, and I will give you a garden in which to create a world. Just keep my commandments. I love you. Good authority loves. Good authority gives. Good authority passes out authority. (142)

So much of godly pastoring and parenting is about planting seeds and then waiting for God to give the growth. (148–49)

Christianity is color-blind with regard to our salvation, but not with regard to the God-intended diversity of the body. A church’s challenge is to demonstrate color-blindness in all the right ways (“You are my brother/sister in Christ”) and color-consciousness in all the right ways (“You are different and wonderful and have new things to teach me”). True unity in Christ provides the security wherein diversity enlightens and delights, rather than threatens and offends. (152)


Previously in the “20 Quotes” series:

20 Quotes on How Your Church Should Exhibit Loving Authority

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