I enjoy the writings of Andrew Murray not only because he lived and ministered in Wellington, South Africa, but as pastor and author, he penned so many gems of scriptural treasure that he is one of my writing heroes. While reading one of his books, this quote struck my heart hard:

“I don’t think I need to give you an example of Christians who are failing in their love for one another. I will not speak of divisions among the churches; I will not speak of the way in which Christians talk to each other; I will not speak of the coldness that exists between Christians who spend years together in the same church and eat the same bread at the Lord’s supper; I will not speak of how the most precious truths and promises of God have unconsciously become walls of separation.” (From Wings of Eagles, three sermons preached by Andrew Murray in London 1895)

With the end of social distancing and the season of COVID leaving us with a new church, making a new beginning, I wholeheartedly identify with the phrase “the coldness that exists between Christians who spend years together in the same church and eat the same bread at the Lord’s supper.”  My heart recognises that coldness in the church that has come out of COVID, but I am ashamed to say it is in my heart too.

I am deeply conscious that the overflowing love that should be among the people of God is missing, and if I am completely honest with myself, it is missing from my heart too.

You will know they are Christians by their love.

Really? Jesus prayed in John 17:21

“I pray that all of them may be one, so that the world may believe that You sent me.”

If the evidence of Christianity is love – Christ says that it is the love that will have the world say: “they have something from heaven.”

Looking out ourselves, we have to admit that at the core of our hearts is our SELF: how we focus on ourselves, our needs and priorities. It is this same self that is slow to love others. Ask yourself: how much has your SELF limited your expressions of love to people who are believers, preferring:

  • Who we agree with and who agree with us,
  • People we like and want to be associated with,
  • People who think just like we do,
  • Limited to only the people in our little circle, with very little love going out of our circle.
  • People we deem worthy of love and not the unworthy,
  • Definitely not for those who disagree with us or bore us
  • Nor those who do not love us.
  • Or any people who are difficult, or annoying, or different, or hard to love or have different interests or preferences from us.

Is it not I, who has limited the love that flows from me to those I prefer? Have I chosen not to love, simply because I don’t feel like it? Have I earnestly tried to love even the unlovable one, so that in that person, the supernatural love of Christ that flows from me can triumph?

Lord, give me the spirit of humility that will confess how little I have actually loved. Empty my heart of self (me, myself and my agenda). I desire to confess and give up all that is selfish. I want to study and learn this one thing: how to live in an attitude of love towards my brothers and sisters as Christ and God live together in love in heaven.

Aaah, “But,” we argue, “it is easy for Christ and God to love each other in heaven; they are perfect! But when it comes to my fellow believer, so much of them is hard to love that they are unlovable!”

Christ proved that it is possible for the love that God puts in our hearts, to stand the trials of life here on earth, by living in the power of this love, not our own strength. Jesus lived through every hostility, shame and suffering, even death on the cross. He lived through it all in the power of love. Now, this same love is what we carry as believers in our hearts, and we prove this love when we love our brothers and sisters.

“But”, we argue, “it is easier to love unbelievers than to love some of the believers in our church, surely, that is where we should demonstrate love.”

But the same power to love that moves through you to love unbelievers, also allows you to love believers. If you can love unbelievers, then all the more you should be able to love believers because the blood of Christ has already redeemed them, and Christ lives in them. We are all members of one body of which Christ is the Head, and we are part of that same body in Christ.

Here is a promise from scripture to claim:

“God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

We need to work on being vessels that have emptied themselves of SELF so that the love of God can be poured into us by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I confess that I have not loved my brothers and sisters and that my heart has grown cold towards many in the body of Christ. I have limited how I love, trying to love based on my preferences and relying on my own ability to love. Instead, I choose to trust that if I empty my heart of all that I want for myself, You will pour Your love into my heart so that it is overflowing and splashing on all the people around me. If I rely on Your love for me and focus on loving You, You will fill me with so much agape love that it will be easy to love my brothers and sisters because of how You love me. I can count on this love being poured into my heart because right now, in heaven, You are interceding for your body (the church) so that they may be filled with love as You and the Father have loved each other.

My Little Love