Monday, May 17, 2010

The Greatest Weapon of Our Warfare; Evangelicals and the Grandest Marker

There's no Law against Love*.

Love is the binding, is the act of God that so defines God that the Bible equates God with Love. If, in fact, we want to know what Love is, we need to know who God is. God is Love.

However, then what is missing is an identification of what Love really means. However, again, if the Bible is Story, then it's story should be indicative - we find God and Love by reading the stories of God acting as Love in the Bible.

  • Love is incarnate. Love shares with us and travels with us in our journeys. When God became flesh as the person of Jesus (dirty roads, dirty toes, sweaty, bleeding, laughing, weeping, the whole nine yards), he not only saw fit to come from heaven down to earth, but to suffer along with us - which he continues to do - as a real, historical, flesh and blood homeless man.
  • Love is sacrificial. A scary word, that. In his book, Following Jesus, NT Wright acknowledges that we use the word for things it really shouldn't be meant for: sending young men out to fight old men's wars, denying a wife's career, dreams, and gifts so that her husband is fully supported in his, etc. But that would be missing a major component of love - loving others AS loving self. Meaning that other-love is neither shadowed nor dwarfed by self-love; rather they are intricately connected. Sacrificial love says, "I see that there is a higher purpose, a better goal here and I will go through this difficulty, I will give up this smaller desire for the larger prize."
  • Love is patient.
  • Love is kind. Not always nice. But it is kind. Nice is an approach; nice doesn't want to ruffle people's feathers and isn't ready for a fight. Sometimes, as one of our contemporary poets put it, you got to be cruel to be kind. But in the right measure.
  • Love gives sight for the blind. Love doesn't keep the healing to itself. It can't help but to share what it has (and, conversely, it doesn't complain about *having to share,* but does so freely) and its power is healing.
  • Love wept.
  • Love forgets and refreshes. Its mercies are new every morning.
  • Love shares. Creation, in fact, is the sharing of love - a necessary outpouring. The same can be said for procreation, or at least human procreation.
  • Love pursues. Ultimately, love will.
  • Love thinks. Love isn't haphazard, nor is it intellectually lazy. When the bible says that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our mind, it means that. To not use rationality, to not think things through, to be stubbornly stupid is a sin against God and wanton misuse of the capacities that God gave us.
  • Love questions the way things are. Get that? Love is not satisfied! Love never says, "Well, that's the way the world works and it's been like that for eons so why change now?" Love asks why are there starving people dying while others are excessively fed? Love asks why someone's livelihood necessitates someone's death? Love asks, Why must we enslave our fellow men and work our children's bones to the ground? Love asks, Is this really the way things should or ought to be - or just the way of the world?
  • Love rejoices when good things happen and sorrows wherever there is injustice. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Love does not conform but transforms.
  • Love always protects. Even though love is expecting a day when the lion will lay down with the lamb and is working towards it, it is no fool. Love operates in the real world and as such guards what it holds dear, usually the vulnerable and the weak.
  • Love always succeeds. What is so significant here is that we must understand that love is the ultimate winner. We may stumble, we will struggle, we fall; but love shall succeed.
  • Love always hopes.
  • Love always trusts.
  • Love always perseveres.
  • Love is the greatest of those that last. Those that last would be faith, hope, and love, by the way.
If the Christian God is Love, and if the Christian person were to - by definition - follow the examples and teachings and way of the Christ, who is the incarnate God, ie., Love in the Flesh; and if the Christian is to be inhabited by the Holy Spirit, who is - to be short - God in Action, ie., Acting Love; and if Christians are to demonstrate that we are following Christ, that we are reborn in the likeness of Jesus, are to show our fruits - it would follow that those fruits are the fruits of the Spirit and that those same fruits of the Spirit are the demonstrations of Love being lived:
  1. love,
  2. joy,
  3. peace,
  4. patience,
  5. kindness,
  6. goodness,
  7. faithfulness,
  8. gentleness and
  9. self-control.
There is no law against these things.

And these are some of the hardest things to convince my body and spirit and mind to do.

*I found there's 763 verses with the word "love" in the Bible.

I'm not much of a numbers guy. I also don't put much into how the Bible is broken up into verses. It's a nice reference tool and all, but none of the authors wrote expecting their fine recordings to get torn apart and ripped out of context and used as proof-texts for weird theology (cf,
Left Behind) or as self-help references.

Really, since many of those verses are about misplaced love (screwed-up, "worldly" priorities), and since quantity =/= quality or importance, you can't really put much value in that number.

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