Defined By Holy Love
Philem. 4 ¶ When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God
Philem. 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus.
Philem. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ.
Philem. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.
These followers of Jesus Christ were defined by their relationship of holy love which could be exhibited in their behavior toward one another. First and foremost this love was exhibited among those who were also followers of Jesus Christ. All of God's children are called to be his holy people -- we are all called to be Saints! This is not in Mother Theresa fashion, but instead, in the daily life of being filled with the Holy Spirit -- being God's holy people. God's holy people are to love God's holy people, and then they are to reach out and do good in a world that also needs to experience this love. When God's people are living this type of a lifestyle it creates energy, an energy which sustains the people of God and brings refreshing, for this is God's plan.
I'm afraid that these days Christians are not defined by their love for one another, but instead for their critical spirits. Not only do we take on the world, we take on fellow believers; and the world looks on and says Jesus we find appealing, but we're not so sure about those Christians we find in the Church. Maybe this is because we have misunderstood God's call to holiness. Instead of understanding that God is calling us to be filled with his very nature -- holy love -- we have redefined holiness as a set of strict rules that makes us and all those around us rather unhappy. Dr. Sam Vassel recently shared in a sermon, "Holiness people are those that suspect that someone somewhere is having fun and their job is to go and find them and stop them." If this is how we are living, then we have it all wrong!
First and foremost God's children must work to allow the love of God to so flow through them that they love other followers of Jesus Christ. No, we may not always agree with them but we are called to love them. The world should be able to look at God's children and say, "Look how they love one another." The love bond between God's children should be so strong that others would want to join us! Christianity should be appealing to those around us. We shouldn't have to go out and try to beat God into the world, we ought to be so filled with God's holy love that people will be attracted to what is happening within the community of faith and will want to be a part.
When the community if faith is overflowing with love, it will spill out into the world. The followers of Jesus Christ will be engaged in doing good deeds. These are not good deeds that lead to salvation, but they are good deeds as a result of salvation and holiness. When we are filled to the brim with God's holy love it has to spill over and make a difference in the world. We can't help but do good deeds because it becomes a part of our nature. Then the sharing of faith is effective because it is powerful in the love of Christ. Too much sharing of the faith is ineffective because it is made up of words which are not empowered. May the Holy Spirit empower all that we do so that we are effective witnesses for Christ.
Finally, the entire community of faith will be refreshed as a result of this type of behavior. We need encouragement these days -- encouragement that comes from a life of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. How refreshing it is to meet brothers and sisters in the Lord who are so in love with Jesus that his love simply overflows and we see God working in and through them. It is the angry and critical brothers and sisters who simply zap the life of out of us and drain any energy we have to serve the Lord. Paul had experienced this and he was rejoicing in this brother who had been a refreshment, not only to him, but to all of the saints whom he had encountered.
What will our legacy be? Will we be defined by holy love for God and for others, or will we be defined by having a critical spirit? May God help us to be so filled with him that we will overflow with joy that is contagious and may we be a holy people who know what it means to have fun!
Lord, please fill me again today with your love. Amen.