Love

I Will Sing

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1)

Beloved,

            John Wesley was raised by his mother to love the Lord with all his heart and to sing praises to God. When Wesley was 21 years of age, he met a humble man who owned only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even own a bed. Although having nothing, this man was incredibly happy and filled with gratitude to God. Wesley, a brash and proud 21 year old, quipped about the man’s poverty, “And what else do you thank God for?”

            The man smiled and with a humble joyful spirit responded, “I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!” Wesley realized that this man knew the true meaning of thankfulness that he had not fully understood. Many years later Wesley himself was experiencing his own impoverished condition as he lay on his deathbed at 88 years old. Even though Wesley had nothing and was gasping for each breath, he began to sing, “I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath.” Wesley understood that he could sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever.

            Everyone will encounter an impoverished condition at some point during their lives. It may be financial loss, relational emptiness or the physical breakdown of our bodies, but regardless of our conditions, we can and should sing of the steadfast love of the Lord. God’s steadfast love has been proven time and time again. His unconditional love was ultimately seen in how while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We must learn to rejoice in the gift of God’s salvation which does not depend on prosperity, but was offered to us because of our impoverished condition. We were impoverished, but Christ has come to give us live and life more abundantly.

           Therefore let us sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever. I love the words written by William Cowper, a man familiar with suffering, “When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave. Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sign thy power to save.” Beloved, we will always have a reason to sing!!

Love Displayed

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

Beloved,

What does the world want to see in the church? What does the world need to see of God’s gathered people? In his book, The Church before the Watching World, Francis Shaeffer wrote,

One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community the world could see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community. Our churches have so often been only preaching points with very little emphasis on community, but exhibition of the love of God in practice is beautiful and must be there.[1]

We must display the beautiful interconnectedness of the purity of doctrine in our lives lived out among one another.

            Peter challenges the churches of his day to have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart and a humble mind. These traits should epitomize all individual Christians and thus, should epitomize the gathering of Christians in the local church. Peter arranges these concepts in a chiastic structure showing the middle trait to be the most important aspect of a Christian Community. The family love among God’s people is one of the greatest testimony for the validity of the gospel. One scholar notes,

Harmony and humility belong together, for the primary means by which harmony is disrupted is pride and self-assertion. Sympathy and compassion are closely related and even hard to distinguish from each other. Brotherly love is the middle term, showing that it is the most important of all the virtues and that the other virtues are embraced in the call to love one another as a family.[2]

We are called to love one another as a family. We belong to one another.

            Do you view the church as your family? Are you willing sacrifice for the members of the church as if they were your own flesh and blood? Are you willing to share your own lives with each other? Beloved, we are far more than just a weekly gathering on Sunday morning. We are a family. Let us live like one so that the world can see the beautiful display of the love of God in practice.

 

[1] Schaeffer, Francis, The Church Before the Watchign World. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervaristy, 1971, 62.

[2] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 164). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.