In its pure expression in Christ, love is strong, challenging, graceful, confrontive and quite messy. Love is not static but dynamic. The strength of God’s love flowing through the Body of Christ is often devalued by leadership through compromise and a fear of man. It is diluted in its expression when leaders try to always please people. If there is a fear of people getting offended or losing membership, love is sidetracked from its essence, speaking words that lose power. The world is looking for authentic Christianity.
Christians, in trying to look or sound like the world in order to win people, trying to be culturally relevant, actually lose the essence of power and authority which flows through the reality of love. Love is messy. Love laid the path to the cross for Christ, a messy affair that brought salvation for us. Love is costly and Christ paid the price for our salvation and freedom. We rest in that perfect reality but love indeed produces suffering in our lives in Christ. It is best we not toss the word ‘love’ around so lightly.
The Body of Christ is weakened and devalued in power and authority through a misunderstanding of exactly what love is in Christ. The world desperately seeks authenticity, which the church is sorely lacking in measure. We can’t express love outside of Christ in God. God is love and His love is expressed in Christ through Holy Spirit. Looking to be culturally relevant has stripped the church of the gifts, speaking in tongues, power ministries and deliverance of demons from peoples’ lives.
There are wonderful churches out there that walk in New Covenant reality, expressing themselves through community. They are few and far between. This community flows in power and authority, with true leadership helping people grow into maturity through the expression of love, which is multifaceted in the Body. What that means is that as we gather, we gather to express truth that is gentle and soft as well as challenging confronting – all formed on a foundation of love. Love is not mean or rude but neither is it compromising or easy to hear. Offense abounds everywhere. People are threatened by truth, labeling it as judgment so as not to digest any part of what is being said to them. Leadership is in need of great change and change is here and is indeed coming. Church, as we know it and knew it, is over. What is coming? We will all see in time as it changes in form and expression.
Right now, so much of the church, seems bent on pleasing the needs of people rather than seeking the heart of God and walking in His will and ways, whatever the cost. I am not intent on generalizing here only to state the problem but to look for a solution for us, stating relevant observations, challenging us to realize that Christianity is costly. Jesus paid the price in full for our freedom. I marvel at that revelation. In turn, that revelation embeds itself deep into my being. I am then willing to walk in a love that takes risks. Love that does not risk being misunderstood, rejected or persecuted is actually no love at all.
Here’s an example of compromise and fear in the name of love.
I was in a meeting some time ago where a woman kept interrupting the meeting. Her need of attention was obvious, along with her deep-seated anger due to circumstances in her life. Words often betray one’s heart as it did hers to me that day. This is where accurate discernment comes into play. What does this woman need to get free, not to be pacified in the midst of her bondage? And, how does one do this in love, walking in wisdom and grace. Knowing when to speak, when to be silent and as a leader, when to correct and challenge to maturity.
People gathered around her to pray. I was told that this often happens so it became obvious that there was a need in her to cause confusion and take center stage. Over the years, I saw this over and over in leadership.
Back to the story. The leader wanted people to pray for her and minister to her with love and compassion – their perceived idea of love and compassion. Yet, this turned out to be love coated in a fear of man. As I watched them pray, I saw that it grieved God’s heart for He wanted her to be free but it would take some words spoken in love’s strength that would shift her into a new place where she would have to make a decision. She would either receive or get offended. It was her choice and once made, leadership would then handle it accordingly. Right now, leadership just perpetuated the problem due to this fear of man.
Leadership gave her a great challenging word to change to be free. She rejected what people were telling her, telling them outright, she was actually okay. The leader then apologized for his word to her. How is this down? Quite easy. With qualifiers that dilute true power and authority. He said something like “Well, this word may be right. I am not sure. Please pray about it. I believe God is saying this but if it does not bear witness then just discard it.
Oh my! Why even bother? There was so much qualifying being done that it appeared to be full of mercy and grace. BUT, it was actually full of fear – and in fear there is little faith and even less change.
In subsequent meetings, she did the same thing over and over – interrupting and trying to interject confusion into the meeting with her needs.
Now for some intense honesty here. Over the years, I didn’t always walk in love. That is why God is revealing love’s strength to me today in the midst of my heart healing. I was angry and that came out in my preaching and prophesying. When confronted with this anger, I swung to the other side and tried to be merciful, not confronting, not challenging, thinking that I must learn to be more loving. It did not work. I had to learn about love by looking to the expressions of Jesus as He focused on the Father. I see love as strong, clear and awesome as well as soft and gentle and tender. I will risk misunderstanding and rejection to focus on growth and maturity in people speaking in love. But, I will not imprison love within my contained definition. Love is life and love flows – all in its multi-faceted expression.
That was just one example above on a small scale but it shows my point. The strength of love is to be shown in and through leadership without fear of man or people pleasing. Love takes on many different forms and expressions. Look at Jesus………..the creative expression of His Father in heaven, living and moving and being in love.
May the strength of love empower Christians to risk reputations, honor, finances, and even ministry to walk in an uncompromised love of Christ. To love the Body of Christ so deeply and to love people so strongly that we desire change and maturity so that the Kingdom is advanced in greater measure throughout the earth.
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