What is the purpose of the church? What should the members of the body of Christ be striving toward?
There is an erroneous doctrine today which teaches us that "connections" or "relationships" are what God wants us to focus on. To be clear, I believe relationships are one important barometer of our spiritual life. However, right relationships do not prove we are close to God and are not what we are to be occupied with. There are plenty of nice, loving unbelievers!
Consider the Words of our Lord Jesus:
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Notice something important here. The first commandment is to love the Lord your God. The second is to live your neighbor as yourself.
I don't believe it was by accident that Jesus arranged them in this order or that they are interchangeable. I believe rather that the order is of great importance in determining what Jesus meant.
To put it in simple terms, We cannot properly obey the second commandment - to love our neighbors, until we obey the first - to love God. We cannot truly love our neighbors the way God wants us to unless we first draw close to Him and love Him!
Think of it this way:
We can strive to love our neighbors as our first priority. We may do so without a close walk with God or perhaps any relationship with God.
On the other hand, if we truly love God first, we will be transformed and equipped to properly love our neighbors. None of our neighbors has, or will ever, suffer when we put God first.
We can have good relationships with our neighbors and be far from God.
But we will never have close a close relationship with God and not love our neighbors - it comes with the territory!
Human love is fickle, frail and faulty. Let us make up our minds to walk so close to God so that His supernatural, eternal love can flow through us!