Love Check for Evangelicals

Man oh Manischewitz! Christians just can’t seem to stop arguing over what scriptures mean by love. Particularly Christian love and how that should reflect God’s love. Of course, our love can never fully reflect God’s love because we are only human, we cannot love perfectly like God can. We are not holy. To be truly holy would mean to love perfectly.

Anyway, what do I know? Not much. But let’s revisit what two of God’s apostles once had to say on the subject of love. First let’s check in with St. John;

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. (1 John 4, The Message)

And what does loving both God and our fellow man look like? St. Paul sums it up pretty thoroughly, at times telling us what love does not look like:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13, The Message)

A very wise woman (my wife) once said that to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’ is often just double speak meant to obscure the fact that we usually do both; hate the sinner along with his sin. At the very least this little ditty gives us permission to act like we hate the sinner, while professing to do so out of love.

So, if you think it is loving to deliberately offend and insult those whom you believe do not ‘get’ the Gospel, well then perhaps it is you who does not ‘get it’. Unless, of course, you can somehow justify ignoring the (admittedly uncomfortable) message in the above two scriptures.

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  1. #1 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on November 11, 2008 - 11:26 pm

    The incarnation I can bear–and Jesus said that if we see Him we see the Father–but how does that give us license to claim an insight into God’s perspective.

    If the Incarnation is fully Human (with a Divine will and nature mixed in) then we see Jesus’s human perspective, not God’s perspective.

    We see an immeasurably small fraction of God, as much as a human body can contain the fullness of the Godhead–but this does not give us front-row God vision, as many claim.

    Whooz Nutz? I left the Booby-Hatch, Herr Durl-Lek-Tore, and you’re still inside the hatch.

    BTW. I miss Mark’s roll call ceremonies, especially when we had like 40 people. Mr. Moore; Mr. Moore; . . . Miss Peterson . . . Mr. Zimi-Master

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on November 11, 2008 - 11:38 pm

    Not God’s perspective – I agree. That would be kind of ‘nuts’. But we can get a glimpse of his nature, as we look at the life and death of Jesus. Which I don’t think is incomplete, as so many want to say. Jesus showed us God’s nature. Do we really think that there are other chapters that Jesus didn’t get to teach us? Is he merely the icing on the cake – with the OT revealing God’s ‘other’ qualities? Especially if those qualities seem to contradict the ones we see in Jesus/

  3. #3 by logiopsychopathivorytowerdweller on November 12, 2008 - 8:16 am

    God’s “other” qualities? How can finite man even attempt to quantify God’s qualities?

    What glimpse are you talking about? Those that verify our weak, mortal metaphors (and terministic screens) with which we attempt to categorize God with such sermons as “God has seven attributes, Love, Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, Generosity, Engineering, and Wrath . . .”

    How dare we.

    More and more, I am siding with the Open-Theism view espoused by Clark Pinnock and others (See the Openness of God, by Clark Pinnock, et. al.,) against which I wrote and refuted with virulent, verbose, vehemence. Of course, they also project and presume penurous penultimates on the Divine nature.

    BTW, you like-uh the alliteration?

  4. #4 by Christian Beyer on November 12, 2008 - 9:38 am

    That was my point: what “other” qualities can we ascertain? Is it even possible?

    But Jesus said (and if we are “Christian” then this should be significant” that he has revealed God’ nature to us. What is that nature? Well, what is Jesus’ nature? Do we have an idea of what his nature is, as displayed by his life and death?

    I think so.

    (the alliteration is marvelous)

  5. #5 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on November 12, 2008 - 9:21 pm

    I still think it is presumptuous to presume we can know God’s nature.

  6. #6 by Christian Beyer on November 12, 2008 - 10:27 pm

    Allright. I can understand that. But can we presume Christ’s nature? I don’t mean his cosmic nature but in the same way that I know that you are a great big lovable over-educated curmudgeon who’s bark is worse than his bite?

  7. #7 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on November 12, 2008 - 10:46 pm

    Christ’s nature? His dual nature?

    Uh. Hmm. Look in the mirror, eat a lamb-sandwich on pita bread, with a little horse radish, wash it down with weak tea made with dusty yellow water (no cheese, please). Then walk down a dusty road in flat leather sandles, and build a small table from a juniper tree–then you will become quite familiar with Christ’s nature. Like Hebrews 2:16–“He took on the nature of Abraham’s seed . . .”

    In other words, the Word became a man, man (and I just wrote 2 antanaclasises).

    As to His Divine nature, its over my head.

  8. #8 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on November 12, 2008 - 10:47 pm

    Actually, you don’t need the Middle-East McDonald’s to see Christ’s human nature, just look in a mirror. I recommend the one in the student restroom at your place of employment–as I recall it is already cracked.

  9. #9 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on November 12, 2008 - 10:49 pm

    BTW–Isn’t that an overeducated curmudgeon whose bite can be quite serious? Just ask my wife.

  1. Love the Sinner, Forgive the Sin « SHARP IRON
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