As I read in Psalm 40 this AM, I was overwhelmed by God’s private and public displays of affectionate love for us as His children. Any who know this through personal and corporate (body life as believers) experience, know exactly what I’m talking about here. It is not a new thought to see things this way, to see God’s displays of His affectionate love for us.
This morning I want to look at our response to this in both extra private, home-level “private,” and increasingly public contexts, where each of us, and “us as believers community-wide,” have opportunities for displays of affectionate love for our Redeemer and for those God gives us to encounter. It’s remarkable how transforming this meditation can be, friends! Imagine an increasingly overwhelming focus as believers community-wide on this daily progression:
Alone time in God’s Word for each follower of Jesus, over-whelmed by the Spirit’s presence and joy, touched in the inward parts by the transforming work of God upon the spirit and soul, growing affection for our Redeemer and a deep awareness of God’s ministry to one’s very core person. In that place of vulnerability, we experience change by degrees in our affections, increasingly being brought to a place of private worship in response to the forgiveness and love we know as eternal and lasting because of the work of Jesus on the cross for us as His Bride. Jesus died for our sin and wins us over by degrees through the ministry of the Spirit in our prayer life, to the point that we increasingly become genuinely undone and overwhelmed with joy, deeply enjoying the worship of this Redeeming God.
From there each day we step out of our prayer closets to care for and encourage the members of our immediate household or most proximate/regular members of our “tribe” so-to-speak, any who we call our community, those we know well. If single, you’re roomates might be these community members. If a spouse or a parent or both, these are your most immediate community members. Imagine a community where followers of Jesus are being consistent with their love for the Redeemer and their response to His favor displayed on the cross by lavishing favor (whether “earned” or not in a given day) upon the immediate members of their community.
As we move out from there, those we’re showing unrestrained favor to, whether people seem to be earning any aspect of this or not, would be often co-workers and community members, neighbors and relatives. What if we were so affected by the Redeemer ourselves that we steadily increased in our displays of affection to those we encounter on a routine basis? What if we were windsomely honest about our struggles and imperfections, sharing insights into the “why” of our joy and consistent displays of affectionate love to others? Communities are historically transformed when the people of God, blood-bought believers in Jesus, follow hard after the manner Jesus had among us. If we were to be in and among the foks in our community, we’d grow in our affection for one another as we labor to show consistent love to those we are encountering together.
Where such a movement leads is not to more programs and non-profits but less. God’s people are more and more holistically running after the lifestyle Jesus led on this earth. A community member reminded me recently of the reality that we can’t do the wonders so often that Jesus did among humanity from a wonder-working perspective, but we can walk in the way He taught us to, displaying in our actions and words the answer to the quesiton, “What would Jesus have us do?”
Community development/transformation is really the product of all hands on deck and optimismistic, consistent effort from those who sense wholeness to some degree. Believers should be those experiencing glimpses of wholeness most often because the Redeemer redeems us daily from our places of appathy and fear and doubt and patterns of sin. God washes us with the water of His Word and we experience hope for change, though we’re always aware of our recent sins and failings. Our passion to experience His transforming work in our lives multiplies and grows as we show His displays of affectionate love to the closest and next level and eventually most distant members of our community. At every level, we should look forward to PDAs so-to-speak, Private/Public Displays of Affectionate love! We’ll make mistakes both personally and corporately, and we’ll get criticized plenty, but the point isn’t perfection but the Person of Jesus. As we are entranced and over-joyed at being His disciples, His followers, we increasingly remember that we’re more than just followers. We have wholeness because we’re actually family members and eternally children of the Living God!
In this place of belonging, our passion should increasingly be to demonstrate this favor to other members of this family and to, as a family, demonstrate this favor to “potential relatives” so-to-speak. It’s a target rich environment for private/public displays of affectionate love, friends! EVERYONE is either already an eternal sibling in God’s family, or a definite candidate to be such! No one is “too far gone” as we see with even the Apostle Paul. Who in that society would have imagined Paul becoming a Christian? He was definitely very likely to be thought of as the least likely to turn to enjoying this Savior. So too, may we have eyes given to us by the Redeemer Himself to seek out and enjoy the daily opportunities to show the affectionate love of our Redeemer to all we encounter, consistently and thoughtfully and most importantly with patience.
Enjoy your morning of worshiping God with God’s people, friends!