The Affection

"For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus, and this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment." Philippians 1:9

Relationships often swing between two extremes. There is an expression of love that is possible without emotion, and another expression that is driven by it. No doubt, love is something that is done, not just something that is felt before it is done.

However, Paul's words give vivid description of love marked by feelings of longing, and affection. He even prays that those who love him, and those he loves will tap into the abundant resources that are available for even more of this priceless perfume of the church.

When Dana and I lived in Borger, Texas, we were introduced to a fabulous fajita joint. When the huge platters were carried out of the kitchen, they would arrive at our table sizzling and smoking. The air around our table would be a cloud of heavenly aroma. Whenever we left we carried the smell of the place on our clothing. Anyone who ever ate there will be able to recall being greeted by those who encountered them with, "Been to 'The Plaza?' " It was impossible to eat there without being warmed and filled on the inside, and one's clothing covered on the outside, with in the aroma of the place.

Love has a similar characteristic. It carries an aroma that touches the five senses. It is more than a mere feeling, but nonetheless, it can be felt and smelt (sp), specially when it is expressed God's way. When it fails His smell test, it is time to pray for more of it, at the church house, and at your house.

"This I pray" communicates Paul was putting strength, and energy, not wishful thinking into his expression. Prayer is rooted in the concept of wishing, but it is not wishful thinking. Prayer takes wishing to the next level. It places the fondest desires of one's heart before God, and leaves them there. Prayer doesn't hang them on a star.

Prayer is not a Disney concept of, "When you wish upon a star." It takes the strongest longings and deepest desires of one's heart and places them in the hands of God. Prayers are wishes of the heart, but wishes become prayers when they are placed in the hands of God, and with no one else.

Love as mentioned by Paul is the undeniable evidence of an undefeatable goodwill that only The Spirit of God releases in the heart of child of God. This kind of love is the fruit of The Spirit, and it is able to engage disagreeable people and rise above disconcerting circumstances, with the aroma of Heaven.

Note to self: Never settle for imitation fruit in your life. Lost people can tell the difference, and the shelves of the church are empty without it.

Most churches advertise more in their show windows than they have on their shelves. Church brochures, websites, slogans and signs are a great resource for empty platitudes. "The end of your search for a friendly church." Don't believe it, until you park in their spot or sit in their seat. But I digress.

Paul prayed that "love may abound, still more and more." He also indicated that this kind of love that he had for his fellow believers was an emotion, as well as a discipline.

Praying as a discipline without engaging in the love relationship with Jesus, is like ordering from a menu, but skipping the meal. It leaves one empty, not warmed and filled with His Presence. Loving without feeling any emotion is a worthy discipline, but it should not stop a person from praying for what is missing. Every believer should kneel in prayer and ask for God's love to "abound, still more and more." This was Paul's greatest wish It should be the greatest prayer of the church.

Prayer is the key to a love in one's heart for God and for others. Loving and praying are inseparably linked to the discipline and the emotion of love. Prayerless people are in danger of becoming loveless people. Eventually they run out of what they have on their shelves, and if they refuse to pray for more, they start handing out imitation fruit. It doesn't smell the same, and it never satisfies. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!