(Every Tuesday, the core members gather for a meal and an opportunity to eat, share bread and wine – and fellowship; to worship and study the Bible together. The New Testament Church shared bread and wine within a fellowship meal or “love feast” and we do the same – in fact, agape means love: the unique self-giving love of God.)
And as it happens I’ve been musing about love and the nature of “God-love” (agape) and sharing some of my musings with the household. A couple of weeks ago, I explored a little the opposite of love – fear – and how it has to do with punishment (or “torment” in the Authorised Version). We are held back from trusting each other because we fear “torment” if we do so: the pain of being misunderstood, looked down on, rejected, hurt, trampled. Fear has to do with torment. But “perfect love” – the agape love of God, poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit – “drives out fear”. How we need to let the love of God loose in our hearts.
In this sense, true love is a paradox – in making itself utterly vulnerable (because there is no fear in love), love becomes utterly secure. G.K Chesterton wrote: “The Cross cannot be defeated for it is defeat.” Think about it.
Tonight, I want to continue the musing on a slightly more practical note which has to do with serving which is the reality of love in action.
Jesus said various things about serving. But here’s one particular thought.
In one story a servant is commended as a “good and faithful servant”. As the moral of another, Jesus says, “So when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants’.”
The good servant is congratulated by another; about himself says, “I am an unprofitable servant”.
There is a principle here: about ourselves we say, “I am unprofitable” and about others we say, “Well done!”
Let our household be filled with people saying to others “Well done! You’re doing well! I really esteem the way you work hard in the Lord!” and also saying, “As for me, I am only doing my duty as an unprofitable servant”. Let this be our deep heart-attitude. For this is love.
The flesh reverses this. A household full of the flesh will be full of people carefully setting up their safety zones and feeling that they’re ever so pushed and stretched and really giving so much – but that those other lazy ne’er-do-wells – well! They could really do with getting down to some serving! In effect, the dominant attitude becomes “poor old serving me” and “lazy old unprofitable others.” And the flesh is afraid - so, so afraid. “They don't understand; they're going to get me to do even more.”
And so the flesh lashes out, mistrusts, carps, looks for faults in others.
How different if we're a household that is letting love drive out fear: then we will believe the best of one another – including waiting for them to say, “You’re serving well – how about you have a rest.”
We will “do to others (and think of others) as we would have them do to (and think of) us”. This is the whole of the law and the prophets...