Now let us go on to the next illustration of the circle of God's purpose. "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." We are discovering that as in the old creation, so in the new creation, there are circles, orbits, of Divine truth and revelation. People are always saying, "History is but repeating itself..." And the Church cries out with every fresh moving of the Spirit, "We had that forty years ago..." or some such statement as that. What most Christians fail to realize is this: that with every setting of the sun and rising of the same, there is a NEW THING accomplished in the earth. There is a new measure of growth transmitted to the trees and shrubs and plants of the earth. Day after day, and year after year, there is a continual participation in the life of the sun, and a growing unto maturity. Some years ago, we stood before those great Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. Here we saw the General Sherman tree, the biggest living thing in the earth, weighing something like 625 tons, and about 102 feet in circumference at the base. There it stood when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps a little sapling, But it witnessed the truth of the passage we have just read, literally thousands and thousands of times. The sun rising, and setting, and rising again. But to this little tree it meant more than that. It meant a growing unto maturity. It meant a struggling against the elements. It witnessed winter and summer, over and over again, But it survived, and grew, and there it stands today in all its grandeur and greatness.
So with the Church of Jesus Christ and with the individual lives of God's people. There is a continual increase of the Christ within, and of His government and peace in their lives. There is a new unfolding of the Divine purpose. "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22, 23). Men who lack vision are forever bemoaning the setting of the sun, as if that were the close of the day. But the setting of the sun is not the close of the day, it is the beginning. According to the book of Genesis (and we have discovered that we must continually go back to the Genesis to discover God's order) "the evening and the morning" constitute God's full day, and not "the morning and the evening." "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand..." Even now before the full rising of the "Sun of righteousness" into the new day of His glory, there is the shining forth of the first rays of dawn. The daystar is arising in hearts. Even in this world of darkness there is glorious hope and promise, so that we may say with the Psalmist: "Even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (Psa. 139:11, 12). Faith is bright in the midst of darkness, because of the promise. But faith is budding forth into Hope, which is even brighter, because it is anticipating the dawn. Then do we enter into LOVE--which is the full expression of Faith, and Hope, the very life of God Himself radiating from the lives of His chosen ones.
The New Commandment
When Jesus was here, He was the Light of the world. But the light shone in the darkness, "And the darkness comprehended it not" (Jn. 1:5). Now there is a difference. The darkness is beginning to pass away. True, it will get darker, and darker, as far as the present order of mankind is concerned. But there shall be light in the homes of the people of God. John said, "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (1 Jn. 2:7). It was the old commandment of the Word. It had particular application to his day and hour. It is the same Word that we have today; but now it takes on new meaning. Therefore he continues: "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past (Lit. 'is passing away'), and the true light now shineth" (1 Jn. 2:8). When Jesus was born the darkness did not apprehend the Light. But now it is not so. The darkness "is passing..." The Word which we had from the beginning now takes on new meaning. It is a "new Commandment." The same Word, but it comes forth in the dawning of a new day, and therefore it is NEW. It is the new day of LOVE. Anything less than that is darkness. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the LIGHT..." Surely none is so blind as to claim that the Church has entered into this heritage of LOVE!
Perfection Of Love
The lack of love is only too evident and blaring everywhere we look, in ourselves or in others. The apostle John makes it abundantly clear that walking in the light is WALKING IN LOVE. We would like to convince ourselves that walking in the light consists of adhering to proper creeds and doctrines. But regardless of creed and doctrine, the solemn fact remains: "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now" (1 Jn. 1:9). Such a man does not even know where he is going, "because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." There is no neutral ground here. We may admit on the one hand there is not much love, and on the other claim that we do not hate. Love is Light, and the absence of the light means darkness. If there is no genuine Love, God calls it HATE. We need to read the Love chapter often, 1 Corinthians 13. We are inclined to think we know what Love is, and therefore its great potential scarcely stirs us. It is nothing less than the very realm of God, abiding in Him, and participating in His own heart of longsuffering, kindness, humility, meekness, unselfishness, and truth. All else that pertains to the realm of spiritual manifestation must give way to the fulness of LOVE, as the first rays of dawn give way to the rising of the sun. "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." "Won't heaven be wonderful?" says one. But God wants this perfection of Love here on earth where it is needed. "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven..." Pray, tell me, what kind of a heaven are you going to that is going to require the exercise of "longsuffering," "kindness," "meekness," "humility," and "unselfishness." Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 once more, and imagine, if you will, what circumstances in Heaven might arise that would require the exercise of PERFECT LOVE. "Suffereth long..." Will Michael the Archangel impose grievous burdens on you that are just too heavy for you to bear? "And is kind..." Here is a man in heaven that has wandered about on the golden streets, oppressed, weary, and foot-sore... and you pause for a moment to give him a word of cheer, or a helping hand. "Charity envieth not." You will have to be careful when the rewards are given out, lest you find yourself envying the Christian that has been given the largest or most beautiful mansion. But then you will have perfect love, so you can resist the temptation. "Vaunteth not itself." Another minister is sent forth to do some great work in the Kingdom of Christ, and returns with a glowing report. The angels rejoice, and the saints rejoice with them... he is not "puffed up" or proud of his achievements; he has arrived at the place of perfect love! Selfish? Why no! If he has more than he needs for his mansion, he'll distribute his abundance among the saints that have a smaller mansion and cheaper furniture... he is not seeking his own, he is entirely unselfish. A scandal is raised against Gabriel, but the man who has arrived at Perfect Love has overcome... he "thinketh no evil," and the rumor is squelched. No matter how laborious the task that the Lord gives him to do, he "beareth all things" cheerfully. Won't it be wonderful when we get to heaven, "when that which is perfect is come"?
But God wants perfect LOVE here in the earth, where it is so desperately needed. Heaven is full of love now but God wants it here. Jesus therefore taught us to pray, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Now we believe that Jesus taught us to pray that prayer because it is God's intention to answer that prayer. We have discovered that the prayers that are ordained of the Lord, and that are inspired in the hearts of God's people by the Spirit, are nothing less than the travail of the Spirit of God within the spirit of man to bring forth unto birth and full manifestation THE EXPRESS WILL OF GOD. It is not a case of you and I getting under some burden of human contrivance, and trying to persuade God to do something that He is reluctant to do. It is a case of so moving in God, knowing His will, functioning out from His very own heart. that we share His yoke; and the express will and purpose of God becomes our chief concern. Nor can we rest, or give Him rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem "a praise in the earth." The reason we cannot rest is because He cannot rest. And as we partake of His desire and yearning for the perfection of His Son in His other sons, there is that heaven-born groaning within, to accomplish the PERFECT WILL of God in the earth, even as it is done in heaven. God is not in the least concerned about PERFECT LOVE reigning in Heaven. Nothing less could even exist in that realm of PURE LIGHT. He does want, and He will yet have, PERFECT LOVE reigning in the hearts of His people, and to this end we pray. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and HIS LOVE IS PERFECTED IN US" (1 Jn. 4:12).