Let Love Rule; yeah Right!

Letting Love

“We are created by love, to live in love, for the sake of love…By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest left of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?” (Gerald May, quoted in John Eldredge, Waking the Dead, 48)

I’m thinking about this love—and especially as this love relates to the church; to Christians. Commenting on 1 John 5:1, author Morris Womack writes:

“If love is one of the familial traits in God’s family, then each of his children will love God and love the brothers and the sisters in God’s family. You cannot love God without loving your brother. You cannot have one without the other. John reminds us that the way for us to become children of God is (1) by loving God; and (2) by carrying out his commands…[T]he conclusion we expect is: therefore if you love God you will love your fellow Christian.” (College Press NIV Commentary, Morris Womack, 1, 2, &; 3 John, 116-117)

And yet…and yet…Eldredge asks, “Why is it so easy to get angry at, or to resent, or simply to grow indifferent toward the very people we once loved?” (Waking the Dead, 113). John made it perfectly clear in his letter, “…everyone who loves the father loves his child as well…This is how we know that we love the children of God of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands” (1 John 5:1b-2).

Why is love so difficult for us? I mean, as I read blogs and the comment sections of blogs I am led to believe that the family of God is one great big, gigantic dysfunctional family. Why? Because we can’t and don’t and won’t love our brothers in Christ—no matter that we are commanded to. But it is one thing to lament the lack of love and quite another to offer solutions. It is one thing to see others as the stumbling block (“I can’t love them”) and quite another to see ourselves as the stumbling block (“I won’t love them.”) I wonder which is worse.

Ah, therein is my problem. I have no solutions. I don’t know how to convince people that they not only should love their brothers and sisters but that they can. That seems to be what grace does in our lives. That is, enables us to do something, love, that previously we could not do and would not do. I don’t know how to convince myself that I should love. Hey, sometimes it is hard to get over hurt. It is one thing to want love to win and quite another to go out of my way to make certain that is a reality.

Someone else wrote: “Brotherly love is proof of love of God; but the reverse is also true.” (Smalley, 268) Ouch. That hurts. Brotherly love, love God, love people. It makes my head hurt thinking about the various peoples that God calls me to love and the various peoples that God, by virtue of his command, calls to love even me. I can’t imagine the horror some people experience when they read in the Scripture that they are, by virtue of their new birth in Christ, obligated to love so-and-so; or me. I am probably more amazed at the people who have willingly, sacrificially, unconditionally, without an agenda loved me; warts and all that is. Yet I complain when I am commanded to love so-and-so.

Eugene Peterson wrote in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:

“A primary task of the community of Jesus is to maintain this lifelong cultivation of love in all the messiness of its families, neighborhoods, congregations, and missions. Love is intricate, demanding, glorious, deeply human, and God-honoring, but—and here’s the thing—never a finished product, never an accomplishment, always flawed in some degree or other. So why define our identity in terms that can never be satisfied? There are so many easier ways to give meaning and significance to our human condition: giving assent to a creed or keeping a prescribed moral code are the most common in congregations.” (313)

Don’t you think that is too much pressure? Quite frankly it would be much easier if we did have a set of rules that would measure our success; indeed, many think we do. But the Scripture is rather clear that the measure of our success is determined by our love for one another and in no other way. There’s an easy way and the right way. The easy way is rules; the right way is love. And Peterson is right: love is never a finished project or product. There is always some obstacle we have to overcome along the way. Love always wins when we are brave enough to love.

I don’t think I’m searching for anything out of the ordinary, although, to be sure, love is out of the ordinary. It is not what we are accustomed to in this life. So when we get involved with the Jesus life we are shocked that this is what we are called to do. Love one another. Love one another. A new command I give you, Love one another. Jesus said it three times on the night he was betrayed. Three times! I suppose that shocked his disciples that night. Love one another. Pshaw! What sort of kingdom is going to grow, overcome the world, and remain when the cornerstone of that kingdom is love for another?

I’m not looking for anything out of the ordinary, although love does not come naturally to us. To love the people of God causes us all sorts of revulsion and convulsions and indigestion. Yet that command is not rescinded: Love one another is what Jesus left us with. He could have said any of a billion different things is the ‘new command’ he was giving us. And yet…and yet…our story, his story, is defined by love. No matter how complicated it becomes the command never changes: Love one another. Jesus either had a sense of humor or he was serious. Could be both. But while not excluding the former, I am inclined toward the latter.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If anyone one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).

Yeah, right. That’s going to work.

Advertisements

  1. ooooh good post. thoughtful. provoking. challenging. we need to look at ways to make God’s love real in our lives to others. i’ve been really challenged from 1 cor 13 – a passage i KNOW is really good but sometimes gets relegated to the embroidary list (you know the list of verses people embroider but dont live out) – about keeping no record of wrongs. love keeps no record of wrongs. but i had been. about people i love. not a super mean list that i retold or anything like that, but a list none the less. its the things like that that can make a difference in how we live out real love. and love doesnt have to be with big demonstrations… i like how john put it (and you too) “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”
    ACTIONS. love is action. big action. small action. but actions. we often think of something “nice” to do for someone – oh it would be nice to make a meal for that friend who is sick – but we dont translate it to action. love acts. it does. lets be doers…. blessings, fireball

    • FB,

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your enthusiasm and the encouragement. I hope you got that I was being just a little sarcastic with that ‘yeah right’ part. Love is not as hard as it seems when we throw ourselves down and quit fighting. Love is simply thinking of others before we think of ourselves. Be blessed.

      jerry

  2. Jill

    Love is an action….we never do it perfectly or wholly. It is not a feeling!sometimes feelings follow actions sometimes they don’t. God has poured forth the love into our hearts. Believe it !act in faith on it! the just shall live by faith… in this area ,too. we cannot even know, experience, OR “feel”His love for us with out the Holy Spirit manifesting it to us and in us….every thing else is based on selfishness.
    I think we’ve had this conversation before…who really loves ? the person going around hugging people to fill they’re own need or the person who hate’s being hugged but hugs back because they know this person has a need to be filled… the person who talks about the “God’s love , “I love God” “I pray every day”and turns around to slander someone…or a person who seeks to intercede with someone in an open prayer setting hugs and comforts the tearful person, prays some scripture but after the person continues to cry and act strangely walks away. … leaving the sobbing prayer seeker? we can’t think up ways to manufacture Love to people ….much of the time it’s emotionalism so someone can say “I did this for God” or “I did this to minister” So much of the time it is all of the flesh,,,people only look to promote or protect themselves …
    I may sound cynical but I am being realistic and objective….1 corinthians draws a picture of God’s perfect love….do i measure up…rarely if ever…do I desire to …more than ever. so His word drives me to my knees again and again to agree that I need His manifold grace.
    I would say that if you are struggling because you see yourself not truly loving…. though you desire to, your on the right road… It’s the one who feels good about what they have done for someone who needs to look in the mirror of His Word. It’s no different than any other sin …He’s covered it all.
    I think you said it best… when we throw our selves down..surrender….
    abiding in Him,
    jill
    ( I thought you gave up sarcasm for lent….back so soon?)

    • Jill,

      I didn’t think I was being overly sarcastic. No. It’s still given up. You know the struggle. You know the hurt. You know the difficulty of trying to understand people who are beyond comprehension. You know the difficulty of trying to get people out of the old wine skins and into the new. You, of all people, know what I am trying accomplish–not in my own strength, but through the Word of God; through grace. People remain hard hearted, stubborn, and unable to move; or unwilling. Yet love them I am called to do. Sometimes love wins; sometimes I fail.

      jerry

  3. Jill

    Jerry,
    I know exactly what you are trying to do… and you are doing it well…i guess I get troubled because of what people define as love… that was my point….the touchy feely …the sweet talk … that won’t come forward and be honest or confront when it needs done. they want to walk down the middle of the road and not take sides …some how it is unloving and not “nice”. Actually I think that lukewarm would describe them well…or even worse fearful.
    love stands for truth and acts for truth .
    talk to you soon….
    abiding still
    jill

    • Jill,

      I think at some point people are going to called to account for their faith in Christ. And you know what will happen? They will fail. They will fail because they cannot stand up for what is right in the ‘church’ so how can they possibly stand up for what is right in the world? If we won’t make a decision for righteousness in the safest place in the world, the church, then how can we possibly defend ourselves before Christ who is righteousness? You are right: Lukewarm defines far too many. And that is exactly why my heart is broken. We have the best news on the planet, in the history of the world, but we must save buildings. Far too content are most to let wickedness have its way. Far too willing to maintain the status the status-quo instead of doing what is right and just. Far too easy to assign blame to others than to examine the self. That’s why sarcasm made a return. I’m tired of fake.

      jerry

  4. Jill

    Amen….besides i love sarcasm.
    Abiding,
    jill




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: