"If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:13:5)
Jesus has called us to come follow Him by picking up our cross. We have to view God's unconditional love in the cross to show us what He has called us to follow Him in. He gave us the pattern of His heart in Luke 23:34 when He said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Many of His own people who had walked away from Him were in the crowds shouting "Crucify Him, Crucify Him." He bore the ultimate pain of rejection, as seen in John Chapter 6:66-70 "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" He was left with twelve that day and one of the twelve was a betrayer whom Jesus called `a devil'.
They will bear God's judgement who cannot follow Jesus' pattern of unconditional love, the Cross. Deceptions in God's body stem from the author of lies, Satan himself. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.." (Matt.12:34b) Some of God's people have hatred in their hearts, while wearing deceptive, smiling faces in church. A common remark today is, "I can love him but I don't have to like him." Obviously this remark shows unforgiveness in the heart. The heart of pride cannot separate the sin from the sinner. The Lord says to "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also." (Luke 6:2729) THIS IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. This is the way of calvary love. Love is the fulfillment of the law, and the bottom line of all Christianity.
Gossiping tongues wail out detrimental statements against the body of Christ. Lying Spirits in the body of Christ and the divisive spirits of Satan come forth diminishing the power of the group. Repentance prayer meetings are giving way to a short bible study, and/or social group activity with a short time of prayer attached. Many churches have no prayer meetings at all!
"Confess your faults (sins) one to another and pray for one another, that ye may be healed." (James 5:16) A spirit of pride stops the confession of sins
openly. Refusal to accept Calvary's love for another bears judgement. Jesus said, "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt. 6:15) Grudges and personality conflicts cannot be tolerated by God. Christians must come to God for forgiveness and go to their brother in the order of Matthew 18:1517.
If there is a "railer" in the body, one who looks to debate most everything, he is haughty and proud and will bring dissension to the group, causing confusion. He should be separated from the group, after warnings are given, and he has not repented. (1 Cor. 5:11) However, the group must continue to pray, as the Lord leads, for the saving of his soul and full restoration.
Today many pastors receive more gossip from their flocks, than prayer for their souls. The more prayer that goes to God for a pastor, the more the flock will receive from the hand of God. It has been said that "a flock can only grow as deep as the pastor's walk." On the other side, many pastors are not praying earnestly for their flock as they once did. Many need more courage to exhort the flock in love. The Lord desires to work His plan through His ministers for His Bride.
"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Seeing
then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." (Heb.4:13-14)
Many ministers are counseling in the flesh. They are not depending on the Holy Spirit as to what thus saith the Lord in His Word. When a wife comes to the pastor telling her woes about her husband, instead of sharing the cross of Jesus, he is too swift to pull out the loopholes from Satanic grounds to allow her to divorce the man. Some will even promise that God will provide "the right one."
Many of the pastors are too busy to counsel. They are not earnestly seeking the Lord concerning the problems in the church. The gospel of love can be preached on Sunday, but when someone is deeply hurting or slipping, the action must coincide with the word spoken in the sermon. The pastors sometimes have to contend with greater problems at home. The pastor's wife doesn't receive adequate time in communication because the spouse is ready to preach anywhere at anytime. However, he will not make time to share his heart with his wife. He has not included her to share in the ministry. She too often is shoved off to the side. She should be in service at her husband's side, to greet visitors at the microphone that have come into the church, and to elicit testimonies or such like service. She should be up there at the platform with her husband during services. Let the church members take care of the little children for her during the service time. She generously
shares her spouse throughout the week with the flock. So many ministers today are given to adultery in the heart because of this lack of communication with their spouse. Marriage with God takes "laboring in" to communicate and so does the relationship of husband and wife. Ministers must stop preaching love gospels and ignoring their wives. Hardened hearts in ministers pharisees in the pulpits are all seen by God. Public shame public proclamation will be made in due time with the finger of God pointed at those in ministry who cannot unconditionally love. By the hardening of their heart in refusing to open up to love, God's unconditional love, marriages are failing in astronomical proportions.
Unconditional love is a decision. When one makes the firm decision to love someone, and prays for that love, God supplies the love needed. He does not fail to answer this prayer. He may have to break the pride first, through chastening measures, in order to prepare the heart for the love He has to give. If a husband or wife stands in intercession, and is proven faithful in loving their spouse, God produces miracles of change. "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean but now are they holy." (1 Cor.7:14) The same applies to the body as a whole.
Many people think they are being loving by a mere greeting in church or by giving a brotherly kiss or hug. The real test of love is going the extra mile for the brother. "What does it profit, my brethren, though
a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead being alone." (James 2:1417) Many can hear these words being spoken at the pulpit and yet turn away their eyes and ears at a request or testimony of needs being presented for rides, help for a sick loved one, financial stress, etc. Someday these sheep will not find green pastures in their hard time. " For I was an hungered and ye gave Me no meat, I was thirsty and ye gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and ye took Me not in, naked and ye clothed Me not, sick and in prison and ye visited Me not.. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me." (Matt.25:4245)
Prejudice is seen in churches. Some black churches are still preaching black issues. God doesn't judge by color. He happens to like variation. All white churches and all black churches that have exclusionary communication will be judged by the finger of God. God is no respecter of persons. "But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin and are convinced of the law as transgressors." (James 2:9)
Cliques existing in churches are seen by the Lord. People naturally migrate around those they know and are comfortable with. This is sometimes
due to a selfconscious spirit. The Lord shows me that selfconsciousness is a subtle form of pride. It is the opposite of Jesus consciousness! One must make an effort to go to those in the church they have not fellowshipped with. The pastors should make note of any cliquishness in the church and point it out. Sometimes having people meet together to help the church, may assist in bringing those together who would not normally do so.
We note that many churches have the same people who volunteer to do the chores of the church, happy to take their place behind the scenes. These are special ones that God looks upon. Generous hearts and laboring hands are blessed by God. "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matt 10:42) There are so many who will not share time, or possessions. All these things will be taken from them soon. I also see nothing wrong with visiting evangelists getting up and cleaning off a table or dishes. It shows the person backing up the word he or she preaches. Jesus said He "came to minister, not to be ministered unto and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matt.20:28) He also said the "servant is not greater than his lord, neither he that sent greater than he that sent him." (John 13:16) We are not celebrities to be bowed down to but servants of the Living God. We are to be representatives of His compassion, and unconditional love for mankind.
Then there is the call to love the unsaved relatives. Most times, this is the first test a Christian must encounter. Relatives that have a form of religion but deny the power therein are still to receive our love. The Lord tells us to "Honor thy father and mother." (Matt.15:4) It does not matter how little they understand of this relationship with Jesus Christ, (even though some insist on calling it a "new religion" or cult.) After the gospel is given to the family, many times the Lord will have us go through a testing period. There is a time to be rejected as Jesus was rejected and even mocked by His own brothers and sisters. "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." (John 7:5) He also said, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (John 7:7) So to be hated by the world, even our own brethren, and still love is the heart of Jesus. His own brothers and sisters didn't believe until after His death at Calvary. He suffered everything that we do plus much more. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted (tested) like as we are yet without sin." (Heb.4:15)
After we pass the tests with relatives, we have the same tests with friends whom we yearn to see saved and fellowshipping with us. Yet the Lord takes us through the aloneness with Him. To unconditionally love, no matter what it costs, reaps the presents of God with His presence.
After the tests of friends, comes the tests of rejections on the job. Oh how God's people can get so selfrighteous by giving up on those around them! Because of rejection, they refuse to earnestly pray. They pull back after sharing but a few words of testimony, instead of giving the full gospel of the Lord. They are fearful and unbelieving. How will our people stand under persecution times? Will the light completely go out under a bushel? We must love them more than ourselves, our jobs and our reputation. It's life or death. "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Luke 17:33)
Beloved Bride of Christ, the more someone hates us, the greater the advantage we have to be used for their deliverance. Satan cannot battle against Calvary's unconditional love. It is the greatest weapon in our hands to set the captives free. Our weapons surely are not carnal, but mighty. "Many waters cannot quench love" (Song of Sol. 8:7) Jesus' style. So count it all joy, through the persecutions, we are more than conquerors. Hallelujah!