Part 2 of a three-part series by Andrew Wehrheim…
As the food is cleared away and hearts are full and satisfied, one brother-an elder in the assembly named Demetrius-stands up and says, “Brothers and sisters. Before we sing and share tonight I am wondering if there are any hearts that need to be unburdened. We all know our dear brother Paul tells the assemblies to bear each other’s burdens. So, heavy hearts, share your sorrow with all of us, so that we might help to lift you up.”
At this point a brother named Johannes stands up and says, “Brothers and sisters, my heart is heavy tonight. You all know that three months ago I became a free man. My master felt that my working ability was all but used up, so he let me go. What a time for charity! You see, my body is so old and tired. I cannot keep up with the work of younger workers. And I cannot offer as low a wage as they. When I was first released I was excited. I wanted to use my liberty for the Lord, like brother Paul exhorts the assemblies to do. But all I have found is rejection, hunger, and want. I didn’t want to say anything. I don’t want to be a burden to any of you. But I am at the end of my rope.”
At this point the brothers and sisters surround Johannes and smother him with hugs and expressions of love and kindness. And Philemon walks over and says, “Johannes, you are no burden. This yoke is easy and this burden is light. I want you to come and work for me. I am more well off than most here and it would be sinful for me to turn you away. And I want you and your family at this home every night for supper. You will all eat well this week.”
“You know, brothers and sisters, as Johannes was speaking it reminded me of our relationship with our Lord. Jesus Christ has set us free. He is the great liberator and we are his free-men. However, brethren, it would be folly for us to be free-men only. We would be like Johannes. We would go happily into our freedom only to find that on our own we cannot care for ourselves. No, let us be the Lord’s servants. Let us give ourselves wholly to him- freely! Some think of our slavery to the Lord to be like the slavery of this world. Not so, brothers. We are slaves of the Liberator. We are slaves to the one whose greatest desire is to care for our hearts, souls, and bodies. So let us, as free men, cast ourselves upon Christ as his love-slaves. And we will find that He will care for us greater than we could ask or think.”
As the words came from Philemon’s mouth tears came from Johannes’ eyes. His wife stood up and declared, “Truly the Lord is our Master and Liberator. We are his freemen and slaves. And we have found his love, care, and provision here in the Ecclesia. This is the living Christ. This is the dwelling place of Abba!”
“So let us sing, brothers and sisters!”
(Singing) “God was manifested in flesh. Declared righteous by the Spirit. Seen by angels; proclaimed among the nations; believed on in the world. He was taken up into glory. He was taken up into glory. He was taken up into glory”. At the chorus, “He was taken up into glory” the singing became shouts of celebration, triumph, and victory.
After they sang the song 4 or 5 times a sister stood up and said, “This is the mystery of godliness. This is the foundation of the Church! The Lord Jesus Himself. And the Church is the pillar and ground of truth in the earth!” Another brother continued the thought, “God was manifested in flesh. And He is still manifested in flesh. God came in Jesus Christ. And now Jesus Christ lives in the hearts of us, his brothers and sisters! Now the Lord Jesus is alive in every city where there is an ecclesia! The mystery of Godliness continues, brethren. It goes on. It continues here in our fellowship where the Lord is present……”Where the Father is present” cries an older sister, “Where the Son is present” proclaims a younger brother, “Where the precious Spirit is present” shouts a middle-aged brother.
So, let us sing on!
“Though Christ was in the form of God, He thought it not something to be held on to to be equal with God. He emptied himself- making himself of no reputation. And he came in the form of man. And being found in our likeness he humbled himself further by being obedient unto death- the death on the cross. But God has highly exalted Him. Father has given Him the NAME which is above every name. So that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. And every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
They continued on for a good half an hour singing to God and to one another. Stopping in between to pray and exhort one another with the words…