God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all the parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the other. If one part of the body hurts, it hurts all over. If one part of the body is honored, the whole body will be happy. Together you are the Body of Christ…
1 Corinthians 12:24b-27a CEV
My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to get anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.
Galatians 5:13 CEV
There are many important aspects to the Christian life…many things that we need to appropriate into our lives. Of extreme importance is to acknowledge, through faith, God the Father as creator and Jesus Christ his uncreated Son as Lord. But of equal importance is this: The Body of Christ is the visible expression of the love of Christ in the world. And each member of that body is an instrument of that love.
For the Christian, distributing Christ’s love is not an option. Each Christian bears the responsibility of displaying the love of Christ to one another, as well as to the world. And we all have a distinct role to play. But this is no worldly, valentine love. As instruments of Christ’s love we are also instruments of war. Because to implement this love to a world that was designed to receive and dwell within that love we must first do battle against the fortifications of worldly indifference and satanic opposition. But it is important to note that we are not given Christ’s love so that we might do battle. Rather, we are equipped to do battle so that we might distribute Christ’s love. It seems like a small distinction, but in terms of our approach to evangelism and building one another up it is an important distinction indeed.
As we leave the safety and comfort of our camps, it should be with a heart broken in two by the captivity of the world that sends us. We go forth not with bravado, flexing our muscles and crying, “Death to our enemies.” But rather we go forth weeping for the state of the lost, tempered by the joy over the refreshment of salvation we bear to them. And yet with the resolve and heart of a rescuer who marches up to the enemy lines and says with the quiet voice of one assured of their mission and confident of their accomplishment of that mission, “On behalf of my Lord, Commander and rightful owner of all that is, and in His power, I have come to set the captives free. Stand aside or if you will not, draw your sword and prepare to see the victory of the Lord.”
What weapons, what power, what strategies will our Commander-
In-Chief withhold from a heart such as this? I tell you He will withhold nothing. But if we go to battle merely for the sake of the fight and without love, no matter how spiritually we dress up our motives, we surely will find our purposes frustrated. For the call on our lives was the same as the call on His. Not to conquer and destroy but to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
And then what…what if we win. Because we are so surprised when we do. We simply welcome the captives and oppressed who receive the good news…as family. We welcome them and pour out to them the love that was poured out to us. No matter their condition of dress or style…no matter their state of life or state of health…we welcome them as family. And then, as family, we come alongside and lovingly and compassionately teach them about Jesus, and then how to be like Jesus. We do this not as doctor to patient…not as teacher to pupil…but as brother to brother. And why this relationship model above all others? Because it is all level ground at the foot of the cross. None is better or more valuable than another. We all have different functions, but in the Father’s eyes there are no favorites.
We are called to minister in love to the world. Yet, as the captive becomes the companion, that work does not end. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the King expressing itself in care for His servants. We don’t come to each other with a welcome basket of good will saying, “Welcome to the neighborhood. Let’s have coffee some time.” We embrace one another as brothers and sisters and ask ourselves, “What practical way can I serve this brother or sister today.” And we do it with no thought of reciprocation…only the joy of being able to shed Christ’s love abroad. In this expression of selfless service I teach more about Christ’s love than any other thing I could do. And in this holy cycle of love, the bound becomes free, the weak becomes strong and the wounded become healed. The captive becomes the rescuer and the heavenly angelic celebration continues as the kingdom grows.
That is the purpose and the power of the love of Christ through His body. Learn of it, put it on and wear it until it becomes part of who you are. Then, walk in it until you walk into the arms of your Savior and He fits you with even more wondrous garments.