Summary: The church must have fervent love if it is to stand.
The Basic Need of a Spring
by Ian Biss 1/20/02
Intro . . .
The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the US Senate, used to love to tell the story of “the Keeper of the Spring,” a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired by the town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removing the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill-wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was magnificent.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. The keeper of the purse inquired “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer!” By a unanimous vote they dispensed with the old man’s services.
For a season nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left, so did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring . . . and within a few weeks the river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
This story is an accurate picture of what the church becomes when fervent love has been forsaken by its members. The saints must remember and always strive to love one another if our lives as brothers and sisters in Christ are to be healthy ones. Peter stresses this truth in our text this morning.
Read Text 1Peter 4:8
Above all things, not above certain things, not above all things except, no, Peter says above all things, be fervent in love. Let’s examine this word fervent a little more closely. This word may be considered an action word, because when you are fervently involved in something then you are excited, you are struggling, as a runner struggles to finish a race. You are participating, not just watching others, and finally, you are committed to a goal. All these things are apparent in those things you do that you are fervent about. God wants you to be fervent in love with one another, because love covers a multitude of sin.
I’m sure that you know what I’m going to ask next. Are you fervently in love with the person you are sitting next to? God wants you to be. Are you struggling to love the other people in this church? Yes, that’s what I asked.
Are you struggling to love your co-laborers in Christ?
Friends, contrary to popular opinion, love is not an easy thing to do. I believe in fact, it is the most challenging thing the Lord has commanded us to do. Just ask my wife, she’ll be all too eager to share with you just how hard it is to love me.
I say this jokingly, but in truth it is all too easy to take a defeatist attitude about fervently loving one another and just quitting, or not even trying to love others.
Frederick the Great said, "The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog." Although it may be true, God has commanded us to love people, not dogs.
* "Followership," Joseph Stowell, Seeds Tape Ministry, Aug. 25, 1993
The simple truth is, that if you are going to live a life that is fervent in love, you are going to be deeply hurt by those you are trying to love. You are sinful human beings, and you are going to hurt one another, and you are going to be hurt by one another.