Commanded to Love
Out of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) fell many groups, large and small. Often these groups splintered further still. This project, “Command to Love”, came out of a small bible study group investigating the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. We are bible students and disciples of Christ, who tackle bible study, almost exclusively, through exploration of the bible itself, not through expansive tracts and sermons produced through the organized ministry. We allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden truths not apparent at a cursory reading of the Word.
We see the Church as a living organism, made up of many parts. It is the body of Christ, of which our small group is a part. We are all suffering from the mighty blows the church has received.
In our study of the miraculous gifts and through reading and re-reading the first letter to the Corinthians, particularly chapters 12-14, it became evident to us that the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, is primarily for the edification (teaching) and building up of the Church, i.e. for the “common good”. Unfortunately, the larger body of WCG was discouraged from seeking these gifts. Partly, this was because the ministry itself adopted the roles of evangelism, prophecy, teaching and healing, but also because the miraculous gifts were not really acknowledged as having a role in today’s world.
Our readings however, proved otherwise. It was clear that the gifts were a means of the church caring for each other, for building up each other and the edification of the collective group. The gifts are therefore timeless and relevant in each age. They are to teach, to comfort, to heal, to warn, to project, to care, to help – they are powerful expressions of love for one another through the manifestation of the Spirit of grace.
This truth had been overlooked by ourselves and the larger fellowship in which we had our roots.
As a supernatural tool from God that empowers the brethren to care for each other more effectively, the gifts of the Spirit, therefore, are expressions of love of the brethren, one for the other.
With this realization, it became painfully obvious that the gifts – message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in all kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, which are to be utilized in the appointments God directed – i.e. apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, gifts of healing, help, administration, and speaking in tongues – are not and will not be expressed or manifest until the church faithfully responds to the commandment to love one another.
Our “cell” groups are ideal places to express this love and no doubt this is well developed in many home groups and larger groups. However with even a very cursory glance over the wider WCG fellowship (WCG has had a name change to Grace International and also has many offshoots under different names) and all its splinter groups great and small, reveals great chasms and rifts between brethren. Many harsh words have been spoken. Many of us have cast off brotherhood and love. We cast off the brethren. We sever relationships and maintain distance for a range of reasons, seemingly justified, but all are contrary to Christ’s command to love. Love is the “sign” that we are his disciples, yet in our fellowship (or lack of fellowship) we so fall short of this tenet, and are clearly not able to be identified through this one hallmark – brotherly love.
Hence, this letter “Command to Love”. This letter is an invitation to all who will hear, that we need to beseech God our Father, to restore and strengthen love in our fellowship. The cavernous rifts must be healed. The severed relationships must be restored. Vanity, pride and affront must take a backseat to humility, mercy, forgiveness, tolerance and love. May God have mercy on us and may God work with us in this, the greatest miracle in this age, where love has waxed cold in a world steeped in sin.
Each of us has a role to play in this. Each of us can learn to let love rule supreme in our interactions with each other. Each of us can allow tenderness, compassion, cooperation, collaboration and care to replace pride.
It also became evident in this study, that our common enemy has all but destroyed the glorious power of the Bride of Christ. Let us stop turning on each other and let us rally together and fight this most important spiritual battle together. Cast out Satan and his attitudes which disrupt harmony and peace. Let us not be his weapons of war. Let us be tools in Christ’s hands as he leads us to victory, harmony, peace and love which needs to begin in the church of God, the body of Christ, the Bride.
When we do this, the Bride of Christ will rise up glorious and powerful, a mate suitable to the Saviour, the Lamb of God, who, in humble subjection to the Father’s will allowed himself to be led to slaughter, because in love, God wished to save the world.
Brothers and Sisters, we are the Church, his body and his bride. Let us live worthy of this calling, rightly perceiving the body. Let’s learn to love one another and let’s build strong ties now that will not and cannot ever be severed for the glue of the Holy Spirit’s love is beyond Satan’s ability to destroy, but it is up to each one of us to earnestly seek repentance in this and learn new and better ways of managing our relationships with each other.
We contend, that once we, as a church, have rejected Satan’s influence and have overcome pride, vanity and harshness, that love will bloom and grow and thrive, and that the people of God will shine again like beacons in the night. We contend also, that once we are doing this more perfectly, the powerful workings of the Spirit, working miracles amongst us will be clearly evident and each of us will have our place, our role and our “fruit” as we contribute fully and wholeheartedly to the edification, building up and common good of the whole church.
May God be with you all.