By Fred Pruitt
Our calling is not to re-create the first century church. I quit looking for the “perfect” church, where they do everything according to the Bible, a long time ago. Been there, done that, dead end.
We are a new church, always part of and an expression of the eternal church, but right here, right now, we are the church that is now — the Body of Christ in the 21st Century. Without forgetting what went before, we are called to name how it will be in our time. By the Spirit in us, we bring it into being.
Since we walk in this world walking as He is walking, we have limitless freedom, the unbounded freedom of the infinite love of God. This is freedom driven by other-love, which therefore has purpose and power to build, uphold and expand all over in light and joy.
And in that sense, anything goes. Whatsoever is for the purpose of upholding, building up, giving life and defeated death, is legitimate in the kingdom of God. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
This can be frightening to some folks, because love is intangible and undefined. Yet every one of the stories of Old Testament men and women of God culminating in Jesus, collectively, are the same building example of Love expanding through human history. The stories are less principles to live by, as it has been taught by so many for so long, than they are examples of Love being lived out of the undefined Freedom of God. When we start making principles on how they lived their lives and then attempt to order our lives by those principles, we invent love by formula, which is a contradiction in terms. Love by formula is no more than the hamburger joint telling us from the TV how they love to see us smile — yes, as long as we are plunking down money on their counter!
Peter wanted to know exactly how many times he had to forgive his brother. Maybe he was thinking of somebody in particular when he asked the question. But Jesus’ answer shows love not only fulfills the law (by forgiving exactly as many times as the law requires) but exceeds the law, in that love has no limit. The law must of necessity have a prescribed limit because the law cannot be intangible and undefined.
What the law cannot be without, love cannot be with. Which is why love remains undefined. As well as freedom remains undefined — they go hand in hand. Love and Freedom are out of the deepest mysterious depths of the Godhead. Everybody can understand the law — tit for tat. It makes sense.
Love disregards tit for tat and takes no notice of it. Love can only love. That does not make sense. Because love loving something which does not love it back is no benefit to the love. Still, that is what love does. And this love is God’s response to our existence. To love where He is not loved. To reveal Himself to those who have not asked. To shine light in darkness.
When we were yet enemies ….
This is the life we have inherited, and is now that life that flows out of us. A life that returns blessing however it is received; a life that waters the countryside all around; a life that gives shelter and shade from the heat of the day.