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Posts Tagged ‘love’

I’m currently reading through 1 John.  Just a couple verses a day for lectio divina and meditation.  John speaks of one thing more prominently than anything else – in his gospel and in his epistles.  Love.  (Followed closely with belief in Jesus.)

Take one of today’s verses for example:

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

I think I read the word “love” at least once a day – even when I am only doing a verse or two!  And it’s easy, particularly easy in our current culture, to sort of pass over the word.  I mean, really, John?  Love, love, love?  Haven’t you got anything else to say?  Anything more substantial?  Love is so… well, so warm and fuzzy.  Even if we get past the feeling to the action, it still seems so… well, it seems weak.  Like a pushover.  Flimsy.  Why must you keep harping on this love thing?

Or is it that you know something we don’t?  Maybe I’m asking the wrong question here… maybe I should be asking what kind of love you are talking about… if love is so important, well, then, what does that love look like?  What did you see that changed you so much that love has become one of your defining words?

The love that John saw wasn’t a passing feeling.  It wasn’t weak or flimsy or insubstantial.

The love John saw was a God who left His heavenly throne to take on our frail human flesh.

The love John saw had concern for little things, even running out of wine at a wedding.

The love John saw had a righteous anger for the things of God.

The love John saw taught the truth, even when it was hard to understand.

The love John saw spoke hope and life to an outcast among outcasts.

The love John saw made the lame to walk.

The love John saw didn’t make the same assumptions others did, but offered healing.

The love John saw gave people food to satisfy their physical hunger.

The love John saw desired to give the people a food that would satisfy their souls.

The love John saw did not shy away from teaching hard truths, even if it made him unpopular.

The love John saw offered mercy and grace to sinful people on their knees.

The love John saw wept at his friend’s tomb.

The love John saw brought life from death.

The love John saw did a slave’s work, even serving one who would betray him.

The love John saw prayed earnestly for others.

The love John saw sacrificed himself for us.

The love John saw conquered sin, hell, death and the grave!

Yes, this was the love that John saw.

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I didn’t get very far into reading this morning’s section of 1 John when a thought struck me.  Seemingly coming out of nowhere and hitting me upside the head, once it was there I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before!

It would have been easy to overlook…

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Yeah, of course, I thought, Jesus died for us and sacrificed himself and we need to do the same.  Easy peasy (mostly because I seriously doubt I’ll ever have an opportunity to physically give up my life for someone else).

But it shouldn’t be that easy, another voice entered into my head.  Is merely thinking that you’d be willing to die for someone really what this is verse is saying?

Um… no?

I looked at the verse again and thought about it some more.  What does laying down one’s life mean?  Does it only refer to physical death?

Jesus physically laid down his life for us.  He took our sins and the punishment for those sins so that we could have a relationship with God.

But it didn’t start there.  Paul tells us in Philippians that Jesus “emptied himself.”  Long before Jesus actually died for our sins, he laid aside his heavenly home, the glory due him, his will (as he submitted to his Father)… Before the nails pierced his hands he arrived on earth as a baby, he walked with us and talked with us and experienced life with us.  He taught and healed and loved.

So maybe when the Bible speaks about us loving others by laying down our lives, it means more than just physically dying for someone else.  Maybe we, too, have to start earlier.

Maybe I need to lay down my wants and desires.

My time schedule and plans.

My selfishness.

Maybe laying down one’s life refers to much more than physical life.

Maybe it begins with simply putting others before ourselves.

Which is where Paul began in his letter to Philippians before he tells of Jesus’ example of both emptying himself and dying on the cross:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

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So I am finally trying to get around to this list of a half dozen or so “blog ideas” that I’ve been collecting for over a year!  Figured this one should be short and sweet.

Late last spring I heard a Sunday School teacher teaching on 1 Corinthians 13.  And I can’t remember where or when she said this thought struck her, but she mentioned an analogy or word picture for the whole love “keeps no record of wrongs” part.

A cache.  Like in a computer.  Like in your web browser history.  Forgiving someone (and keeping no record of wrongs) is like clearing your cache – clearing out your web browser history and cookies.

The picture struck a chord with me.  And not only that, but my mind continued on further…. including remembering how a pastor in California once included in a sermon how we can’t move on and forgive when we keep rehashing (rethinking and retelling) the incident.

In many browsers, though I am now most keenly aware of it in Google’s Chrome, if you start to type an address, it will fill it in for you from places you’ve been before (your browser history).  In fact, with Chrome, you can type the website name and even as you start with a few letters it knows which sites you visit the most and will fill in the rest for you…

These browsers have an amazing memory.  Unfortunately, we as humans also tend to have an amazing memory when it comes to ways in which we were hurt or wronged.  It doesn’t take many keystrokes for our memories to pull up the places we’ve been hurt.  Just a few keystrokes and there it is again, that place we were wronged.  And, like Google’s Chrome browser, the more often you visit the site, the quicker it comes back.

This is great for web browsers, but bad for us as Christians.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”  We are called to love and we are called to forgive.  Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean that we excuse the wrong done, or sweep it under the rug, or immediately trust and have an intimate relationship again – but forgiveness does mean that we choose (by the power and grace of God) not to hold the wrong against the person who wronged us, not to hold onto a grudge or take revenge.  In other words, to keep no record of wrongs.

The old song relays God saying to us:

What sins are you talking about
I don’t remember them anymore.
From the Book of Life they’ve all been torn out
I don’t remember them anymore.

 

God forgives and chooses not to remember.  To keep no record of wrongs.  To clear the cache.

And we as His followers are called to do the same.  So allow God into the “preferences panel” of your life.  Allow Him to adjust your settings.  Delete the browser history, get rid of the cookies.

Keep no record of wrongs.

Clear your cache.

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