There are few
matters which go to the heart of the Lord's testimony more than the matter of
fellowship between the Lord's people, and especially where there is particular
responsibility for His testimony. The drive of the enemy and all his subtle
and diabolical wit, as well as his pressure and his misrepresentations, will
be directed toward destroying that relationship of fellowship. He will seek
somehow to divide believers, and get in between. And if you are not careful
you will resolve all such matters into merely natural problems and say: Well,
it is incompatibility of temper! So-and-so is made this way, and the other
person is made that way; you can never blend people who are so different in
temperament and outlook! If you allow a conclusion of that kind your testimony
is gone; you may as well abandon your position in the Lord and go and scour
the world for people who in everything see eye to eye. Does it mean that the
Lord's work, as entrusted to two or three or more together in one place, can
only continue in so far as these children of His are able at all times to get
on with one another on a natural basis? The Lord help His work if that is what
is required. We have to look deeper than that.
This drive on fellowships and
relationships is Satanic. There may be ground, there may be human elements,
but those concerned should take this attitude toward one another: The Lord's
testimony is bound up with our oneness; the Devil will do everything he can to
destroy that, and to strike a blow, therefore, at the testimony! You and I are
going to be one in the name of the Lord, and stand our ground against the
enemy! There we have something altogether different from the attempt to get on
with one another on a natural basis, we have a dynamic for fellowship. We have
to get on with one another in the name of the Lord, or else the Lord's
testimony is not established. There is something much bigger than a natural or
human situation to be dealt with, and when we realise that back of what may
truly be natural difficulties there is always something else at work, and that
therefore we must keep these natural things in the place of the Cross, and
stand together against the enemy, we will get through; but we will never do so
by spending a lot of time trying to adjust ourselves to one another, and
seeing how far we can work together. Standing shoulder to shoulder against the
enemy who is assailing fellowship, we will find the way of triumphant
fellowship. Come down on the natural level, and the enemy will soon make
terrible havoc of the whole relationship.
Remember, then, that all these things which
sometimes seem to be so natural are in principle deeper down, and the activity
of the enemy is behind them in his seeking to circumvent that gain, that
advance, that increase, that attaining unto dominion, and he must be withstood
in these matters.
The Calling is Positive
In every situation and at all times the
calling is positive. That heavenly calling is never negative, never neutral,
never passive, but always positive. You may not have very much in your daily
life to make the calling seem positive. It may be you go to business in the
morning and fulfil your daily work, the trivial round, the common task, as we
say, with very little variety entering into it. It is the same round day after
day, week after week, month after month; the same people, the same
surroundings, the same activities very largely. Only on the rarest occasion
does something specially interesting come into the daily course. It would be
so easy in a situation like that to say: Well, in my sphere of life there is
not much of the glamour of a heavenly calling! My work is plain and simple. I
have just to get on with it every day, and I see very little else beyond it.
Remember that at all times, in all circumstances, the calling is positive.
Every day will provide some opportunity for
you to learn spiritual ascendency; some occasion for you to bring in the value
of your relationship with the Lord; to put to the test the resources which you
have in Christ; to grow in grace; to know victories. How do you know but that
in that very uninteresting, perhaps unpromising sphere of life you are on test
on some of those great matters, such as faith, patience, or patient endurance.
It would be interesting to know exactly what the throne of the Lord is made
of. When we come to that throne, I wonder whether we shall find a throne of
gold in a literal sense, or whether we shall find it made up of many things?
When we come to analyse the throne we may find that it is made up of patience,
faith, endurance, and all such moral elements, and that these elements
constitute the power by which He governs. It is sharing the patience of Jesus
Christ which is sharing the throne. There is something mighty in the ultimate
outworking of the patience of Jesus, the faith of Jesus Christ, the endurance.
These are the constituents of His throne.
He is working throne elements into us now in
the drab, uninteresting life day by day. You may be on test for the throne.
There may be bound up with the least interesting course of life some very,
very real intention of the Lord. Let us remember that the heavenly calling is
always positive, in all circumstances, in all places. We are on test for the
throne, as to whether it shall function through us both here and hereafter.
"Today if ye shall hear his voice..." Today,
is while there is progress to be made, and while there is opportunity
afforded. Progress can yet be made, therefore it is still "today". When the
day ends there is no more progress to be made. There is opportunity today.
When opportunity ends it will be no longer "today".
The Lord give us a response in our hearts to
the call, to the voice, which is, Today!
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Jan-Feb 1937, Vol. 16-1