His Great Love # 9
The Call To Fellowship With Him In Servanthood
I do not know how you feel about it. I confess to you that, as I have been thinking about this, I have wondered whether I ought to pass it on to anyone else. I know by long experience that it is possible to turn the edge of something the Lord says to one's own heart by giving it out as a message. Have you found that, those of you that minister? The Lord brings some thing strongly to you and you give it as a message, and it has gone from you. I take this to my heart. And as I see that my salvation and yours, in the infinite love of God, was through the spirit of lowliest service, servanthood, I have to say, Is there any other kind of service? Can we hope to see anything done by any other kind of movement of the Spirit? Oh, this is more an appeal than a profound message! It all centers in this - "having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the uttermost" - such men as they were, and as we are. I do not see them objectively. I see them subjectively. I can see a Peter, a Matthew, a Judas, in my own heart. Thank God, He loves unto the uttermost, and His love unto the uttermost is of this kind, that He does NOT stand on His rights and dignity and position and demand that I come down in an abject slavery to acknowledge His lordship. He come to serve you and me. He is Lord, but for the time being a serving Lord. As He is seen in the glory, mark you, He is still girded. He is Lord but still the great heavenly Servant, serving us, washing away our sin, delivering us from this present evil world. All He does is in the spirit of the servant. Oh, how the spirit of service and servanthood is despised today! Everywhere you hear it. No one wants to be a servant today. That word "servant" is hated. The spirit of service has almost gone from the earth. The spirit of Christ is a rare thing, but, when it is found, it is a heaven-blessed thing, a mighty power. Oh, do not despise the servant position! Be not ambitious for place, for recognition, for name,for reputation. Be not ambitious to have your rights recognized. God fill us with this spirit, that we are not all the time waiting for others to do something for us, but looking to see what we can do for them in Christ's name - being busy in the right sense to find out how much we can do for the Lord's people because they are the Lord's people, and for the unsaved because He died to save them,and for the unclean because He died to cleanse them. The Lord fill us with this spirit!
The Challenge of Love
"...His great love, wherewith He loved us" (Eph. 2:4)
"The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us" (Rom. 5:5).
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another...We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:11, 19.
The challenge of love, Divine love - "Beloved if..." then... "If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." There is a tremendous challenge in that. We have, I trust I can say, been seeing that Divine love, the love of God, is the key to everything from Genesis to Revelation; and if that is true, as we have said before, that the sum of all Divine revelation is vital union with God in Christ, if it is a matter from first to last of relationship with God as Father, then here in this fragment in John's letter, we are at once brought face to face with the test of our relationship with God. The test of that relationship is here resolved into a matter of love. There follows immediately another of the several "ifs" of John's letter - "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20), he does not love God. The test of our relationship with God is this matter of love. It all hangs upon "if".
The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The relationship with God in Christ is brought about by an act of the Holy Spirit's incoming, in our receiving Him. He is given to us, and He brings about the relatedness, and the immediate result and seal of that relationship by the indwelling Spirit is that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. It is the test of relationship. The very basis of our organic spiritual and vital union with God is this matter of the Divine love in us, and John will challenge us with this in his letter and say, "We know that we have passed out of death into life (i.e., that we are in vital union with God) because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). The Word of God makes this love a test of our having received the Spirit.
Divine Love Demands Love of the Brethren
Well, of course, on the simple basis of our conversion we know that to be true at the beginning - that whereas, before, we have no particular love for Christians, afterward,when we had come to the Lord, we found we had an altogether new feeling toward other children of God. That was the simple beginning. But it is the beginning, the basis. John is carrying us beyond the beginning. He is speaking to us, as in the case of those to whom he wrote, as to people who know the Lord, to people of God who have the Spirit. He says, "The anointing which ye received of Him abideth in you, and you need not that any one teach you: but... His anointing teacheth you concerning all things...' (1 John 2:27). He is writing to those who are getting on in the spiritual life. When we come there, it is possible that in some way a root of bitterness may spring up in us toward our brother. It is possible that you may fail of the love of God. It is possible that this very basic nature of your relationship with the Lord should be numbed for want of love, that your whole spiritual life should come under arrest and be paralyzed, and you cease to be a vital factor and have a real living communion with your Lord day by day, all because the basic love in some way has been arrested or injured. What was the mark of your initial relationship with the Lord? It was the love of God shed abroad in your heart, and you loved other Christians tremendously. That can be changed in such a way that you do not love other Christians as at the beginning. You thought then that all Christians were very wonderful: no questions were asked; they simply belonged to the Lord and that was all that mattered. Since then, you have begun to have questions about Christians, and not only Christians in general, but sometimes Christians in particular. You have come to know that Christians are still human beings and not angels, not that consummate thing you perhaps thought Christians were at the beginning. You have come to some disappointment about them and are really up against something now in them, and your basic relationship with God is being touched. If you do not somehow get over that and find a way through, if you do not have a new accession of Divine love, your very walk with God is going to be arrested, you are going to lose your precious and joyous communion with you Lord, and there will come a shadow between you and your Father. You will find that the only way to get rid of the shadow is to get victory over that un-love toward those of His children who are concerned.
(continued with # 10 - How We Know God's Love For Us