An aching love

These next 2 verses have got to be the most loving in the whole of the New Testament between an individual and the Church. These are words from a Pastor to their church, it is the church that the Apostle planted and it reveals how after probably 10 years since he last saw them that he loved them with an aching love. In the tomorrow he loved them. They are incredible words..

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1: 7-8)

Love gives the right to deserve the best for one another.

In the verses before this we saw how Paul would pray with joy and thanksgiving for them and how he believed God would finish the work that He had started in them. Now we know why he said those things? Paul carried the Philippians in his heart. He didn’t have them on a prayer list. They were etched into his heart. Break him open and Philippi was written there. This love gave the permission to want the best for them. It is not rooted in some light affection. It is die-hard love. To stress the point he would say “it is God Himself who will agree to what I am saying.”

Can you imagine loving your Church like this?

Love which is not dependent on the circumstance.

Sixty years ago a group called the Shirelles sang:

Tonight you’re mine completely/ You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes/ But will you love me tomorrow?

It’s a beautiful song written by an extraordinary song-writer, Carole King. The love today is exquisite but will it last? When tomorrow is a different day will it still be there?

The Apostle says that the love they have for one another is not based on whether he is doing well, preaching the gospel, itinerating on his missionary journeys, planting churches, being successful. Here he is in prison, not going anywhere and the love is still there.

Love gets tested. Circumstances test it. In the moment you can kiss anything. But tomorrow when it rains will you still love?

Can you imagine loving your Church like this?

Love which aches from every part

My heart aches for you. We love those words don’t we? Maybe you have used them recently. One thing I don’t think you will have said is this: My bowels ache for you!

The NIV has Paul expressing that he longs for them with the affection of Christ Jesus. That’s a nicer way of saying it but it is too soft. The KJV has it much better, “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” (KJV)

The word is splagchnon and it means the intestines, the inward parts. Paul aches for them in such a way and he knows it comes from Jesus Christ, it flows from him. But he could also have been meaning how the Message translates it beautifully, “Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!”

Can you imagine loving your Church like this?

What would the Church look like if they loved in such a way as Paul did Philippi?

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