Kingdom Principle: Love abides in opportunity. Fear focuses on obstacles.
Abiding in Opportunity and Fear of Obstacles can look the same on the outside, but internally Love Abides, while Fear freezes.
How often do you find yourself stuck on your “but” – frozen and not able to go forward without more answers? Imagine yourself in a conversation saying – “That sounds wonderful, “but”… I I’d love to, “but”…. I really wish I could, “but”… It is fear that causes us to get stuck on the “but”. Love on the other hand frees us “to remain” rather than being stuck. This past Dec – a post focused on the power of fear to freeze us, this post will demonstrate the power of love inviting us to abide. To the outsider it may look the same – to remain/abide or to be stuck. However the motivation and purpose are revealed in the source. Jesus was not stuck on the cross – He willingly choose to remain is an act love – even when we cried out “Father why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1) He did not fear that all was lost, rather he remained in love to proclaim, “It is finished” (Ps. 22:31). There are always multiple ways to reach our goals, yet we must realize that to reach the goal is not the only thing that matters. The end does not justify the means… the means must demonstrate and boast of the end.
Phillip’s story in Acts 8 is not without beginning or end. This week’s text is the middle and the clear motivation is love that carries him into new opportunity. His story begins for us in Acts 6 as he is chosen to care for food distribution and service of the church because he was full of the Spirit and wisdom. Even after Stephen’s death (Acts 7) and a great persecution scattering the church (Acts 8) Phillip remains in love ready for opportunity. Being full of the Spirit and wisdom he hears the call of the Lord and does not respond with “but”– rather he seizes the opportunity and goes on mission. Then just as quickly he is transported from that place and ends up elsewhere. Here is where fear enters most of us – we say – God I will serve you “but”… I want some level of control or comfort therefore we add…. But, I am not willing to go there…. But, that is not how we do ministry here…. But, I am not good enough for that…. (Look at last week’s 10 excuses – they all increase our “but” rather than our buttress) This is not true for Phillip as we find him later in Acts 21 – the father of four daughters each of whom is a prophet and he is hosting Paul (who murdered his friend Stephen). Let us remain in love, and see the fruit of abiding in our lives.
When we remain in Jesus – who remains in us – love is made complete in us. To remain, abide or continue (the focus of John 15) in love is not to avoid movement – rather it is to have our eyes opened to the movement of God, seeing all as an opportunity to extend love. (Sometimes this means, remaining in painful or difficult circumstances to demonstrate love.) Fear like a tourniquet – shuts off the flow of love from the Father to you, which shuts off the flow of love from you to others. For this reason, we often run from hardship because we are empty due to the fear that I can’t handle this verses knowing I am not along in this. Many can attest to the fact that it is only love can motivate us to remain in a difficult place, while fear can excuse us to run away. I’d share my faith, “but” I may lose my job; I want to go on a mission trip, “but” I don’t have the money; I want to tell them how I feel, “but” it will hurt them too much. Fear never leads us to love, Love never abandons us to Fear.
Love will draw you close, Fear will push you for distance. Love will produce in you new life, Fear will focus you on what is old. Love will release you to risk, Fear will restrain you to be proven wise.
1 John declares that if you say, “I love God” yet hate your brother – you are a liar…” these strong words cause great fear in us that we have not measured up and loved those to whom it is difficult. Today I hope you quit looking at your “but”, it may be large, it may be ugly, it may be dead weight, regardless take your eyes off the obstacles to love and place your focus on the source of love. This love does not begin or end in you, it is love that comes to you from above, and then by you is given away. This is the movement of abiding in love. Therefore, I can forgive my enemy and I can be forgiven even/especially when I don’t move in love, because I am not stuck in failure.
- The Power of Love, reinstates Peter. (John 21)
- The Power of Love calls Phillip to continue the mission after the death of Stephen. (Acts 6-8)
- The Power of Love takes Paul back to the synagogue where he has persecuted so many. (Acts 9)
- The Power of Love that calls Timothy to be circumcised (Acts 16)
The Power of Love opens our eyes to the movement of God that we might abide with in it…. Below is an opportunity to invite Father to reveal His love to you through the presence of Jesus.
- Set up a meeting with Jesus… put it on your calendar, set aside a meeting time. Do whatever you would do, if your best friend whom you have not seen for years comes to town…. In this time, talk and listen, catch up and enjoy each other’s company.
- After or during this time… reflect on these questions: What are the reason or purposes in you, that God is most pleased? When God sings over you (Zep. 3:17) what is the song about? Are you able to feel the “smile” of God as He looks upon you?
- Where/When you get stuck in this process ask God to reveal where the source of fear is rooted in you cutting off the flow of Love. As you learn these roots… breathe in the power of the blood and grace of Jesus, coming near to God, resist the devil, and cast all your cares upon Him as you Praise his Holy Name.(Ephesians 1:7, James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:7)
If you want to digger deeper into this, the best book on this topic is by Henri Nouwen – LifeSigns. In this short mysterious book the reader is moved to understand what it means to dwell in the house of God. The result of such dwelling is to move in Intimacy with the Father, Fecundity with the Son, and Ecstasy with the Spirit…..