by T. Austin-Sparks
Beloved of the Lord,
How can we enter into that corporate fellowship in prayer, of which we wrote you last month, unless we be free?
Consider. This is our primary service unto the Lord; for thus we minister in love unto that Body, the Church, which He is sanctifying and perfecting unto Himself.
But we must be free, and not cumbered. This service is only in the liberty of the One Spirit. There are many other spirits; but not one of them is the "free Spirit" of God.
We speak of freedom therefore, not in the sense of freedom from sin and from the grosser forms of the bondage of the flesh, etc., etc.; but of freedom from subtle forms of self-interest even in spiritual things. When Paul in Philippians 2 declares "all seek their own, not the things of Christ Jesus" is it not that he feels his isolation in that care for all saints which was his burden in the One Spirit? So he says of Timothy - and this is illustrative of the point - "For I have no one likeminded, who will naturally care for your state." Why did no one care? It was because they were self-centred even in their spiritual life. They did not clearly discern the Body, - the things of the Christ, the great eternal purposes and issues involved in the perfection of the Church.
Thus today, one of the great hindrances to a world-unity (in the Spirit) of the Body of Christ is our absorption in our own concerns, even though these be considered spiritual concerns - my church, my work, my cause, my spiritual experience, or service, or hope. The local or personal interest engrosses all our thought, and therefore all our prayer. Where then is the Body?
It is also true today, and with the pressure of our highly developed organisation probably more true than then - "All seek their own, not the things of Christ Jesus." Consequently there are comparatively few likeminded with Paul and with the Spirit Who possessed him, to naturally care for such as have not seen their face in the flesh.
"The things of Christ Jesus" are discerned in our heavenly position, where our life is hid. "If the SON shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed," There, in Him, the vision, and the pulse of the vision is found. But so often we are earth-bound, engrossed in "our own things" though we give them labels, calling them Christ's. There can be no doubt that Satan leads into captivity or renders ineffective our prayer-life by burdening us with a self-centred interest in the Lord's work. Yes, we are doing it for His sake. But has He asked us to do it? We are bearing a burden He does not require, and it is very useless. The work is really our own, not His. Thus the parochial rather than the universal becomes our vision. The organisation of the local assembly and its work takes the place of that living relationship with all believers, which would bring us into the sense of the world-need. "This ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone." The Lord is leading our fellowship at Honor Oak steadily along the line of freedom for service to the whole Body of Christ. Local interests such as finance, organisation, formal ministry and programme, are being graciously taken from our shoulders on to a basis of faith, where the One Spirit works. Thus our spirits are being freed to enter into the mind of Christ for the world issues of today.
This is a practical out-working of His faith. All anxiety, even in spiritual "busyness," is to be cast upon Him, that we may be free to serve in the Spirit.
Is any reader cumbered with much serving - it may be in a house where the Lord Jesus is truly entertained? Are you sure you are not troubled about many unnecessary things? Does not the Lord call you to relinquish your self-appointed tasks, that are forever "driving" you? Does He not desire you to know the rest of His Presence, and would He not reveal to you "the one thing needful," co-operation with Him and with all His saints in the fellowship and intercession of the One Spirit?
Behold, therefore, and hold fast the Head, His Death, and His Anointing - bring forth the alabastron and serve Him as He desires.
Your fellows in this "free" ministry,
T. AUSTIN SPARKS.
T. MADOC JEFFREYS.
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