A short story by Al Hartman, former Leading Brother from the San Fernando Valley Assembly, comparing Assembly love with Biblical love, as told by a newcomer in the Assembly
Wow! This is the first time in my life I feel really loved. I mean, these people really welcome me. At every meeting, they seem really glad to see me. Even give me rides to and from the meetings. And if I miss, they are right on it -- want to know, "Was I OK?"
They don't ask me to pledge money, but, they do seem to know if I don't put something in the offering box, and they find a way to bring it up. Privately. But pointedly.
And, boy, do they keep up with what I do and where I go. Always asking, asking. Notin a nosey way, but way more concerned than I ever am about what theydo or where they go.
I am invited to join them (usually the same ones) before or after meetings to eat. They ask me a lot of personal questions. Seems like they are looking for something from me. What though?
Okay, okay. I guess I don't feel loved the same way I did when I first started coming to the meetings. But I do get a lot of hugs and back slaps, and we all call each other brother and sister.
I mean, like what do I know about love anyhow? "God is love." Right. Like that clarifies it. I mean, I sure can't define God, so how do I define love? Big! Huge!
Hey! John 3:16! "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." So, love gives. (Good answer next time somebody says, "Hey, what gives?" Love gives. God gives.) Maybe I'm onto something. God so loved that He gave. He gave His Son -- His only Son! That's some powerful giving!
So "love" isn't just some fuzzy concept. It's an action. Love does something. Love gives.
What's that chapter about love? Corinthians? First Corinthians thirteen, I think. Here it is: "If I speak... but have not love." He says even if he has a gift and some serious faith... but not love, he is nothing.
Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It is not rude,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.
And check out verse thirteen, between faith, hope and love, love is the greatest.
Okay, Okay. I'm seeing some red flags -- like patient, kind, not proud, not rude, no record kept of wrongs. What about always protects, always trusts? I don't see that in the assembly! I mean, sometimes people are publicly humiliated right in front of everybody. And people are talked about -- in a bad way-- when they aren't around or after they leave the group.
Man, I would really like to get the Leading Brothers' take on all this. But that's a scary thought. I mean, they know the Bible -- they have the "mind of the Lord", but... Well, if they get the idea that I'm questioning them, they will shred me... right in front of everybody. I'm afraid if I give them the wrong impression, they'll think I'm criticizing the assembly. I better not risk it.
Hey, wait a minute...one of the epistles...1st John. Let's see, chapter two...three...four and verse eighteen.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
That settles it. I'm going to see what's new on the bulletin board that talks about the assembly. I'm not afraid to ask questions there. (As long as the Leading Brothers don't find out!)