Ephesians 4:15-16 – “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” NASU
God has an end game or purpose for all He has and is doing in and through His children, the Body of Christ. LOVE is not just a major factor it is the central element in the purposes of God. Paul wrote to the Philippians saying, “This I pray. That your Agape (God’s Nature) may abound still more and more…” The word abound indicates overflow. Paul is saying, “I am praying for you that there will be such a surge within you, that you spill over in your Agape!” He says in all “knowledge / discernment”. If we consider the context, which we must, we find that he is praying that they and we grow in our knowledge of how to live with each other. How the world needs that! We need constant surges of power and need to be empowered by the Spirit of God from whom that Agape flows and overflows from us to our fellow man and to all in the Body of Christ.
Until we are overflowing in Love the Gifts of the Spirit cannot function to their perfection and in their designed purpose. It is because I love you that I see the need in you and I realize that I need a gift to meet that need so I can help you. That is Body Ministry. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians about increasing and abounding in love is interesting. The word “increase” is a banking term. You put money in and it accrues interest and there is more than when you began. The word “abound” implies a desire that there will be more and more and in those moments of need there will be a supernatural surge of Agape and the need supplied.
For example, we do not always need the ability to forgive but when we meet people who are mean-spirited, evil, and with words or deeds seek to harm us, THEN we need the power to forgive. We need a surge of Agape to enable us to forgive! I heard an illustration that is apropos here and germane to our discussion. Suppose you were sitting in a field under a shade tree, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and you were almost nodding off in wonderful peace. Suddenly you hear the snort of a raging bull and he begins to charge at you. You have a surge of energy rush through your being and you run faster than you have ever run and leap over the fence higher than you have ever leaped. Can you always do that? Obviously not, but that surge of energy and power enabled you at the moment, of need. That is Agape overflowing to enable you to BE!
Before we focus on loving the world I suggest we focus on loving each other in the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “By this, shall all men know that you are My disciples, that you have love for ONE ANOTHER…” Until we get that right we will be like rain on a tin roof trying to love the world. You can rest assured that the world is not impressed when we say, “I love you.” They just don’t care! But, when they see a group of people professing to be followers of Christ demonstrating Agape to each other, they take notice and they are frequently impressed enough to check us out. I recall when I was lost and the one thing that kept drawing me back and puzzled me was the love I sense and saw in the people in that little church in Palestine, Texas. I could not shake the drawing power of Love.
Let me suggest that when any cell in the Body of Christ ministers to another cell it is truly ministering to itself. Also, every time you serve one another you are directly serving Jesus! “In as much as you have done it to one of the least of these… you have done it unto Me.” We need to learn to become ‘supply routes’ ministering to others. Agape refuses to be rejected. It is love for the long haul. It is not fickle and is not conditional. When you encounter someone, who is difficult to love and you feel no compassion for them you love and forgive! Agape is not based on feeling or emotion. Yet, those feelings of resentment rising within your being and you struggle. You resist and reject them, but if you think you are somehow going to be rid of them completely, think again. That is a battle you will have until the resurrection so the key is not trying to never have them but allowing the Agape of God to overpower and overrule them. Remember we are told that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are… He was tempted but He did not sin or succumb to those temptations or feelings.
Never let the devil enslave you to a mental image that if you ever have negative feelings or thoughts you are somehow a failure as a Christian. Simply remind him of the Cross and come boldly before God’s throne and receive that surge of Agape so you can forgive and banish those thoughts and feelings. You have not arrived but you are pressing toward the mark and you will reap in due season if you do not quit. We need to learn to look ‘into’ people rather than ‘at’ them. Jesus never saw a prostitute or tax collector; He saw a person. He saw their need never the package they were wrapped up in. Out of or in and through Love the Body is build up!
God help us to become a fully functioning cell in the Body of Christ through which the power surges of Agape can flow to other cells and strengthen feeble hands and lift them up. Blessings as you embark on this leg of life’s journey!