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.” NASB
God has an end game or purpose for all He has and is doing in 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 says, “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.”
Considering the context, we must find that he is praying that they and we grow in our knowledge of how to live with each other and 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 all in the Body of Christ.
Until we overflow in Love, the Gifts of the Spirit cannot function to their perfection and in their designed purpose. Because I love you, I see your need and 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 are interesting. The word “increase” is a banking term. You put money in, and it accrues interest; there is more than when you began. The word “abound” implies a desire for 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 divine help to forgive, but when we meet people who are mean-spirited, evil, and with words or deeds that seek to harm us, 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 God’s creation’s beauty and almost nodding off in incredible 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 will allow you to BE.
Before focusing on loving the world, I suggest you 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 a 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 you say, “I love you.” They just do not care!
On the other hand, when they see a group of people professing to be followers of Christ demonstrating Agape to each other, they take notice and are frequently impressed enough to check you out. I recall when I was lost, and the one thing that kept drawing me back and puzzled me was the love I sensed 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 truly ministers 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 feel no compassion for them, you love and forgive! Agape is not based on feeling or emotion. Yet, resentment rises 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 never to 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 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 are pressing toward the mark and will reap in due season if you do not quit. We must 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 built up!
God help us become a fully functioning cell in the Body of Christ through which the power surges of Agape can flow to other cells, strengthen feeble hands, and lift them up.
Blessings as you embark on this leg of life’s journey!