11.3 Abounding in Love
11.3 Abounding in Love
© 2016 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
Abounding in Love
In this lesson, I want to tie the experience of Christian community, walking together as the Body of Christ, into the heart of New Testament instruction.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). Jesus did not say to love everybody; He did not say to love other people; He said love one another. He meant the members of His body walking together. And Jesus did not say love one another as a nice idea, or as a someday-goal, or as something impossible now, He said, love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. Most Christians have no concept of this experience.
Love One Another
And, although I have the memory of a taste of obedience to this commandment central to the burning passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, I presently know almost nothing of its reality in my ongoing experience. Sure, I love my wife and my children, but that is not the full meaning of Love One Another. Expressions and smiles of cheery “love” on a Sunday morning, though certainly of Christ and of much value, still they are not, in any actuality, this loving of one another just as Jesus loves us.
We cannot love one another unless we have good reason not to. Any “love” that is not expressed in spite of offense and difficulty is not anything permanent or real.
Forgiving One Another
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
During the eighteen years, now, since we left Christian community, I have had almost no reason ever to “forgive” any Christian with whom I have fellowshipped. How can you forgive someone if you and they are not walking close enough together that they might have good opportunity to offend you? And those few times during these years when I did need to forgive other Christians were mostly inside of employment, not church.
So much of New Testament instruction has little real meaning outside of life together.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (Philippians 1:9). – And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
Paul loved using the word “abound.” Session 13: Abundance will expand on this quality of the Kingdom of God, the abundance of Father. Love is the biggest thing that “abounds.”
God Among Us
Let’s bring this back into our original definition of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the connections of God between and among people. God is love. Love is not something humans can produce.
Paul’s contradiction in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 is overwhelming. It is possible to do all the actions of love without love. It is possible to do all the actions of God without God. Actually it’s not possible, but people assume that’s what God expects because God in Person in them and out from them is not inside their calculations.
As we walk together, we expect God, that is, Love among us.
God through Weakness
Now, this revelation of God, God among us, God flowing from one to the other, this is little, not big. God sent His son as a human infant, the weakest of all earthly forms, to be born in a stable and to rest in a manger. Yet humans take the revelation of God through weakness and adorn it with gold and diamonds and majestic crowns of external “glory.”
Family is the only true revelation of Father; family doing and being what family is and does, in the little things of daily life. When some big miracle happens, people line up by the millions, but that is not where God is found. God is found in the slightest touch of family together.
God by Family
Most people search for “God” by turning their backs on Him and looking for Him where He does not dwell. He was there, all along, in the least and the littlest and in the mundane activities of daily life.
It is not the great act of sacrifice that reveals God, but the quiet hum of companionship. It is not mighty outpourings of power that reveals God, but the conversation of brethren fellowshipping together. God is revealed by family; God is revealed by friendship. Oh, if I could but turn us around, that we might see God as He is and not be looking for Him as He is not.
We Expect Love
Yet how can we love? How can we God? We cannot. We cannot be God, nor make God be God nor make God do what God is supposed to do by some sort of self-performance. God is God through us only through faith, only as we expect that He is.
Just as we expect God, so we expect Love among us. I expect that Love is flowing from me to you and from you to me, every moment. I expect Love because God is. Now hope (expectation) does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).
The word “abound” means to overflow. Thus the word “poured out” and “shed abroad” carries the same meaning. God cannot overflow from me except I be filled with all the fullness of God, which I am. And it is this overflow that is God’s appearance.
As people see God among us, that is, Love, they are seeing God as He is. This relationship taking place among us as family, as brothers and sisters, as friends, is God made visible, God seen and known.
Let’s create in our minds, then, a picture of God.
I have lived in large communities (150 people) and in small communities (5-7 people). The large were too large and the small were too small. (The biggest was 300, way too many.) When there are too many people in a community, you feel lost in all the shuffle. It’s hard to be friends with so many at once. Where there are too few people in a community, there is a quality of variety and input that is missing. A good number of people for any community is 40-50, with a maximum at, say, 75, and a minimum at, say, 25. In other words, when a community passes 75 people, it should bring forth a new community to be planted elsewhere.
A View of Tabernacles
And yes, I really am insisting that this way of living, in whatever form it takes, is the only full revelation of Father and the arising of the Kingdom upon this earth. Most people are looking for zap power as the arising of the Kingdom; I am looking for the close relationships of real church. This way of living is the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, God among us, Love abounding one to the other.
Now, the communities in which I lived were enclosed and focused inward. All labor within or without was only for the ongoing life of the people living there. I have an entirely different view of Tabernacles Church.
Community with Purpose
In Session 19 The Tabernacles Church, I hope to lay out my view of how these communities of Christ will operate as the heart of all human society in the age to come. As such, I see community with purpose.
The purpose inside of move community became almost entirely “getting right with God.” You can imagine the nightmare that would be. The purpose of all communities of Christ in the fulfillment of Tabernacles will be towards the majority of the human population who will not choose to live in community. And that purpose will be found inside a large umbrella that could be termed “Teaching and Hospitality.”
Yet a community that is all “outward” will die. A community that is all “inward” will die. The wisdom of God maintains a careful balance between the ministry of Christ towards others outside of the community, the personal needs of each member in particular, and the togetherness of the whole family. And this careful balance becomes real evangelism; people see the life and the joy and their hearts are won to Christ.
Let’s bring this back to love abounding among us inside the overall environment of a free society. Owe no one anything except to love one another (Romans 13:8b).
Freedom Not to Give
Religiosity takes even a statement like this and turns it into obligation. “Well, you ‘owe’ love, so get with the program.” God Love is only speaking of a quality from the inside out, the overflow of hearts filled with Christ. God Love cannot be imposed by a “ministry” upon a “congregation.” Whatever is happening in that has nothing to do with God.
But let’s turn that around. Love is only love when people live in complete freedom not to give anything. And that freedom must be real and must be demonstrated real on a regular basis.
Love in a Free Society
There can be no obligation in love. There can be no obligation in a free society. All transactions between individuals must be only by the full consent and desire of those particular individuals involved and no one else.
What I mean is this, any giving inside of Christ, must come out from the full freedom not to give, but, in fact, to take myself, my resources, and my family elsewhere. Every individual person must be free to “leave” the community at any time for any reason and must, in leaving, retain the full blessing and good will of those remaining. If not, all who live there are under obligation, not God.
Only Love Works
If I am not free to withhold the outward actions of love, then I am not free to give that which is God. If it’s not Love given freely, it cannot be God.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another. Do you know what these words really mean? May God increase inside of you until you have far more of God than you need, and God Himself overflows from you towards one another.
But if there is NO obligation imposed to “keep things together and running smoothly” what will make community work? Only Love, that is, God.
Willing to Set Free
Love, then, is not something I ever expect from you. Love is only something I expect to flow out from me. Community works only when every individual is willing to not “be loved” by another, yet also willing to release and set free that other person to extend their love elsewhere.
Love is me laying down my life for you; it is not me expecting something from you. And community in which each person is not ready and willing to suffer all loss, regardless, cannot be a community of Christ.
All control I saw in my community experience came out from one desire, the desire to “keep God among us” by our outward performance. All we kept was Christian hades. Love, that is, God, always flows without obligation.
This session presents the concept of Christian community as the full revelation of the Kingdom, Christ as Community. We are not, however, ready to develop fully the many aspects of Church, that is, brethren walking together in love.
In this course, we include only that which is sufficient regarding the Kingdom. We must then pass through Covenant, God and us together out from the Holy of Holies, a highway for our God, before we come back again to the Life of Symmorphy revealed through family.
In the next two sessions we want to explore the nature of this Father, who, just being Himself, is the Kingdom of God.