174. Spirit of love.
People who are huge and muscular are never portrayed as being gentle but the Bible portrays the Spirit of God as a gentle person, though being powerful, because of his unique temperament. Typically, fathers protect the family from external threats while the mothers keep the family together. Likewise, God the Father protects the Church from satanic forces (John 17:11-12) while the Spirit of God keeps the Church together or prevents its members from distancing themselves from each other. So Paul exhorted the Church saying, 'be completely humble and gentle; be patient with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.' (Ephesians 4:2-4) Just as a mother fosters the bonding between siblings, the Spirit fosters the bonding between believers. Just as homes that had lost their mothers earlier on, became a 'divided house' (Matthew 12:25), so also churches without the Spirit become a 'divided house'. The early Church bears witness to the unity fostered by the Spirit. 'All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possession was his own, but they shared everything they had.' (Acts 4:32) It was the Spirit who caused them to behave as if they were really a family! How often have our mothers told us: "Sharing is caring", whenever we fought our siblings to maintain our space and belongings! The early church seems to have heeded to the counsel of the Spirit of love and honoured his word by living together as a family. Infact, that was the secret to the power of the early Church! 'How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity ... For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.' (Psalm 133:1-3) Many Churches are expecting the demonstration of the power of the Spirit, during their services when in reality, they are a 'divided house'! The Spirit of love hates divisions within the Church. When Paul heard that there were divisions in the Church at Corinth, he appealed them to 'agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among them that they may be perfectly united in mind and thought.' (1 Corinthians 1:10-11) He urged the Church 'to watch out for those people who cause divisions' (Romans 16:17-18) and to warn them twice and 'after that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.' (Titus 3:10-11) Some understand unity as something within a clique ( a small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them) but Paul was speaking about unity in the body of Christ as a whole! So he asked, "Is Christ divided?" ( 1 Corinthians 1:13) A study of revivals reveal that it happened whenever barriers were broken down, either between Jews and Gentiles, Episcopals and Pentecostals, rich and poor, black and white,... 'For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility...' (Ephesians 2:14) The Gospel is not only a 'message of wisdom and power' but also a 'message of love' and the Spirit who testifies to it, is the Spirit of wisdom, power and love. Amen.