LET LOVE REFRESH
the support of love
Quite frankly, I’ve been giving a great deal of thought lately to how exhausting this life can be. Around every corner is a reason to throw my hands up in despair and give in to the doubt that God would use me to make a difference. The devil and his minions are out there to throw us off course, to confuse us by making us feel weak and to introduce varying forms of persecution in the center of our missions with Jesus. For me personally, I feel that I have a solid understanding in my spirit that the world is a harsh place pervaded by evil and darkness in men, women and even children. I’m rarely surprised by the evil unfolding by un-believers. But what continues to throw me off is the lack of love in the body of Christ including within many churches. I’m not talking about “the church” but a church. I believe that “the church” is the whole body of believers, the bride of Christ. “A church” is a building with an address for believers and seekers to congregate.
Both inside and outside of church walls there are Christians missing the mark. Often we witness more tearing down than building up, or closed doors verses opened arms. We see rejection and conditional acceptance thriving in an atmosphere that is supposed to be void of both. Christians, in confidence that we are walking in the way, the truth and the light – wound one another with an arrogance that we have borrowed from the dark side without even knowing it. We reject one another because our heart is lacking the great compelling of God to love.
Other unfortunate experiences within our “church” communities is this: that we may be fortunate to know the purpose that God has created us for in this life and that we work patiently to fulfill our ministries but fail to be able to see the fruits of our labor. Maybe you’ve poured into someone’s life for years and they are still the same hopeless pessimist. Maybe you’ve volunteered at your church for years and they don’t check on you when you take leave to have knee surgery. Maybe you know a group of Christians who will show up for every homeless ministry event in their city but aren’t there to help you in your time of need.
At my wits end - why am I doing this?!
We need refreshment that is both given and received from a posture of love. Recently I was struck by some verses in Paul’s letter to Philemon that had not ever stood out to me before. Philemon is such a tiny book in the New Testament, one short chapter with only 25 verses and yet mysteriously it contains the whole gospel and a treasure of a roadmap for how we might live love by letting love bring refreshment.
From a Roman prison, Paul wrote to his friend Philemon and included some friends who were holding church regularly in his home. Paul tells Philemon how thankful he is for him as he continually hears about how much he loves the saints. (Saint is a term that refers to people dedicated to God through belief in Jesus, therefore it is you and me). In hearing of this love, Paul tells Philemon in verse 7 “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”
Although we do not know exactly what Philemon did or how his life served as a source of refreshment to other believers, we know that somehow he served them in such a way that the news of it traveled. This tiny little one page book in the bible could have been left out entirely, but that we might miss the command to love by being a source of refreshment. Philemon refreshed the saints and the news of this gave Paul joy and also encouraged him. Joy and encouragement are byproducts of love that refreshes.