Posts Tagged ‘love’

The Throne Room

November 6, 2016

An allegory explaining why Jesus died to redeem mankind

Long, long ago before the first humans were even created an assembly was called in the heavenlies.  In the throne room of God were the Father, the Son, Satan and all the angels remaining after the great angelic rebellion.  Satan had told God “I will not serve you” and vowed to become the Enemy of God, the Usurper,  the hater of God and all who love Him.  The angels who had rebelled with Satan were not present.

Before them played the vision of human history, from the creation, through the rebellion of mankind, and all that happened after that.

“I want them back”, said the Father.

“But they are mine”, cried Satan.  “They chose me because I promised they could be like God.  That sealed it.  Because they chose me, they are mine!”

The Father replied, “That was your sin too, Satan.  You wanted to be your own God.  Do you not realize I could destroy you in a moment and take them back?”

“But that would not be justice”, sneered Satan.  “You claim to be perfectly just.  You can’t destroy me to take what is rightfully mine!  I won this battle!  They chose me freely.  They are mine.  And I care only to destroy them now because you seem to treasure them, claiming even to love them.  Accept that I have won against you.  Admit defeat!”

“Justice must be served” agreed the Father.  “Very well then, I will purchase them back from you.  Name your price.”

Somewhat taken aback, Satan thought for a long time, then grinned.  “Surely you know I will set the price very high.  I demand you become one of them and enter their world.  You will be rejected by many of them, and then killed.  Lets see, not just any death will do, either.  How about a Roman cross?  And before the crucifixion, a Roman scourging, a crown of thorns, slapping, beating with sticks, being spit upon.  Then as you hang in agony struggling in pain to breathe, you will have the knowledge that most of them will stay with me anyway, because they like the sense of control I give them.  You will never do all that!  You could never love the wretched things that much!”

“I accept your price”, said the Father.

Shocked, Satan shouted “You will never follow through with it.!  It will be too terrible!  Love has it’s limits.”

The Son stood and said “I will do it.”  And immediately he began the process through which He would become human, suffer all the indignities of human life, and die a most horrible death to redeem the beloved.

“I will be called Jesus”, said the Son, “for I will save my people.”

And the angels bowed before Him, silent with awe.

 

Advertisements

Characteristics of Love 2

March 30, 2016

“If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.  You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.”  I Corinthians 13:

What a beautiful description of love that surpasses human understanding!

Imagine for a moment loving someone who is really difficult to love.  What if my sister were a drug addict, and had caused the family much grief and loss over a long period of time?  Imagine what it would mean to be loyal to her no matter the cost.  It would mean never breaking relationship with her.  It would mean standing beside her even when it puts me behind the defendant’s table in court, on the opposite side of the window in jail, on the losing side of almost every imaginable situation.  If I always stayed loyal, I would stay and not leave.  The world often advises getting out of the situation–leaving for your own good.  Love will stay.

If I always believe in her, I will trust even when my gut tells me not to.  It doesn’t mean to put myself in danger such as allowing her access to my money, my car or my personal information.  But it means I will believe the best about her, and not jump to conclusions that she will in every circumstance revert back to her past.  It means I will to believe she will always do her best, and I begin that believing again and again even when she falls.  People tend to live up to what is expected of them.  I will let her know I believe she can be well and healed and whole today, and I’m expecting that.

Standing my ground defending her means I will risk being made a fool of again and again by continually voicing my belief in her.  In the end, I know there are no alcoholics or addicts in heaven for God has healed them.  I look to God to do that, and when I look at my sister that is who I see–someone who is whole, and healed.  Not an addict.

Do I always live up to these things?  I’m sorry to say I do  not.  I’m not whole and healed myself yet, and I get tired and wrung out sometimes.  There are episodes of failure on her part when I feel I have no patience left–absolutely no reserves.  That is when I have to lean on God and act as though I do have all I need.  For in God I do.

Characteristics of Love

March 30, 2016

“Love does not demand its own way.”  I Corinthians 13:5

In the classic description of love:  I Corinthians 13, from verse 5, comes this rather stinging rebuke of our modern culture.  Everything from the popular song “I Did It My Way”  to the Burger King ad “Have It Your Way”, tells us that we are entitled to have things the way we want them–always, all the time, and we should expect that.  Anything less than our own way is not to be acceptable.  Something is wrong–with the government, the company, the product, the service–whatever it is, something that doesn’t go our way is wrong.  And this cultural message is everywhere, and not even very subtle.

Anyone who has been married knows it isn’t always possible for two people to each have things their own way and remain together.  Perhaps this is the number one reason why there is so much divorce and so many relationship breakups.  If one party is offered an attractive position in another state and the other party doesn’t want to leave–do they break up so each can have their own way?  What about lots of things, like which house to live in, which cars to drive, what kind of decor, landscaping, food, friends, entertainment, pastimes, and so on, on and on.  If each is always demanding their own way, unwilling to compromise, what happens?

Love would value the relationship above the other desires.  Loving someone means seeking the happiness of another–shall I dare say it?  –seeking the happiness of another above one’s own desires, preferences, and convenience.   When courting one usually does that, as one wants to win the prize of the other’s permanent commitment.  After the commitment is made, each tends to revert back to the old preferences, claiming they want it their way.  People go back to thinking of “Me” rather than “Us”.

Love thinks “Us” first, then “You” and lastly “Me”.  Thinking “us” leads to compromises where both parties win, not 100% of what they want in every case, but a lot of it.  If each gets a large part of their needs and desires met, they theoretically  can be happy that “we” (the relationship) is happy.  Secondly, thinking “you” means sometimes giving up something or sacrificing something for the other, because the other, and the relationship is so valuable.  It is worth it to give up lesser things for the well being and happiness of the other.  One thinks of spouses who care for their ill partner, or put the partner through school.  In each case one carries the far heavier burden, but does it for the other and for the relationship.

The definition of love is meeting the needs of another, and considering their needs as important as one’s own.  Love in any situation, love of spouse, family, children, or neighbor is totally unselfish.  It considers the legitimate needs of another as equally important to one’s own needs.  It is truly “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  And in those situations where the needs of another take precedence over one’s own needs, it’s helpful to remember another teaching of Jesus:  “Whatever you have done for one of these the least of my brethren, you have done for me.”

What is Love?

March 8, 2016

“Don’t just pretend you love others,; really love them.”  Romans 12:9

What would it look like if we really loved people?  What is love anyway?  Years ago, in nursing courses, it was said “Love Thy Neighbor” meant having concern for his needs, including his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.  In that sense, nursing and nursing care plans are filled with love.  But does that mean all nurses love their patients?  Is it possible to look out for someone’s needs in the sense of checking off a list without actually loving them?  What does it mean to love?

If I see someone going by, or standing on their lawn while I go by, or see someone in the marketplace, do I ever look at their face?  Do I read their expression?  Do I wonder about how they are feeling?  Do I speak if I can, or smile if I can’t, or wave if I’m not close enough to be seen or heard?  Do I acknowledge that person in any way?

In big cities and crowded places its easier just not to acknowledge strangers at all, and some people remain anonymous for days on end.  Psychologists say we need to be acknowledged by others and to acknowledge them in return daily to be healthy both mentally and physically.  But we don’t take the time for it.  Is it the sheer numbers of people?  Would all that smiling or speaking wear us out while making our way to work?

What if we just acknowledged the people we see often?  Would that be too much?  Or would that smile and word nourish someone’s mind and emotions for another day?  Would it nourish our own mind and emotions for another day?

What about marriage and the family?  How much time do we spend interacting with our families?  The gift of listening without interruption is a precious gift.  And we learn more about our loved ones.  We appreciate them more.  And those gifts of being available to them nourish them, and nourish us.  What if we said “I will silence my phone for 2 hours each evening”, and spent that time in face to face conversation at home?  I wonder how many divorces would be prevented if we honored each other that way?  I wonder if we would have happier, better adjusted, higher achieving kids.  I talked to a boy the other day who said both his parents were working and going to school.  Then he sighed and said there was no one to listen to him anymore.  So I listened, even though he wasn’t my boy, because it may have nourished his little heart and soul for another day.

What I Did for Love

February 14, 2016

“If any of you wants to be my follower, He told them, you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely.”  Mark 8:14

How many remember the title of this post as a song?  That might be dating yourself, as its quite an old classic.  1975, to be exact.  It was from the Broadway play “A Chorus Line”.  It isn’t about love for a person, but about what one is willing to do to reach a goal or fully realize a talent.  Much sacrifice is required for greatness.

Why are there not more Olympic records broken by Americans?  Why are there not more great scientific discoveries by Americans?  Why are there not more great inventions by Americans?  Why are there not more Americans with advanced educational degrees?  Why are there not more Americans with lifelong marriages?  Why are there not more Christians doing truly great things for God?

I think Jesus provides the answer in the quote above.  To be Jesus follower will cost you.  Oh surely, He had many fair weather followers, and many quiet, hidden followers, but for the disciples who would physically follow Him everywhere He went, the sacrifice was very great.  It meant leaving home and family, familiarity, comfort, bed, meals, security, and so on right up to giving one’s life.

By the way, the answer to all the questions in paragraph two is the same–too much sacrifice.  We always have people who admire or envy those who achieve greatness, but they do not achieve all of which they are capable or all which they dreamed, because they felt the sacrifice was too great.

 

Giving on our Own Terms

October 20, 2015

“”Samuel replied. “Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience?  Obedience is far better than sacrifice.  He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of rams to Him. I Samuel 16:22

When I was a single person, I would have described myself as generous.  I was always thinking of nice things to do for people, gifts to give, cards to send and the like.  However, when I got married, I found out what it was like to give because someone asked me to.  Any married person knows your spouse may want you to go someplace or do something when you have no interest, no energy or just don’t feel like it.  Giving on someone else’s terms is always more generous than giving on your terms, because it involves sacrifice.

God knows these things.  Buying or bringing a lamb to sacrifice was simpler for an old testament Jew than obedience– especially when obedience required more than a one-time gift.  Obedience may mean giving up a sin, a bad habit, a relationship, or it may mean doing something that, for whatever reason, we don’t feel like doing.  But God wants our love.  He wants relationship with us.  He wants us to listen to what He likes and wants.  He won’t be happy with our half-hearted one-time offerings that we give because we feel like it.  Many times the biggest part of a gift is the sacrifice that went into it.  That is real love.

Love as a Virtue

January 12, 2011

In English, love has many meanings from romantic love to love for a favorite food, and all sorts of “loves” in between.  However, love can be a virtue.  If I want to strive for the virtue of love, I would define it as affection for others.  If I have affection for others, then I see the good in them first.  I can sort the wheat from the chaff and cherish the wheat.  To do that, I must put myself out for others.  Some wit once said “I love humanity, its human beings I can’t stand”.  We can have some noble sentiments regarding being a “lover of humanity”, yet despise certain people, especially the ones who get in our way or offend our sensibilities. 

To love people, I must go out of my way to get to know them.  A good person may be polite.  A virtuous person knows the name of the office maid and goes out of his way to speak to her and get to know her as an individual.  I need to be genuinely interested in the people I see around me on a regular basis, and go out of my way to meet my neighbors.  I need to remember names and use them.  I need to politely inquire after people as I get to know them.  I can pray for them and encourage them.  Yes, there are a lot of people whose paths I cross, and I may not be able to befriend all of them.  However, as with all good things, I need to look at what I CAN do and not use what I can’t do as an excuse not to do anything.

Jesus in my Purse

March 26, 2010

Crazy Love by Francis Chan is one of the most profoundly life-changing books I have ever read.  It is truly counter-culture, both in terms of American culture and Christian culture.  Ultimately it asks, “How much do you love Jesus?”  How much do we think we love Jesus?  How much do we love the real Jesus?  How much of our love is devoted to a Jesus who fits our own image of what a God should be?

I think American women really want a Jesus they can fit into their purse.  If Jesus can fit into my purse, the convenience is amazing.  He’s small enough that I can carry him wherever I go, not a big God who (God forbid) carries me!  He’s  easily hidden so he doesn’t show up and embarrass me.  I take him when I please, and leave him home if he’s too much trouble to drag around wherever I’m going.  If  he’s with me, I want him to be sort of like a small spray can.  If I’m lacking confidence, poof!  I have it.  If I’m scared, poof!  I have  courage.  If I’m feeling weak, poof!  I have the Power!!  If I need money, the right words, a parking place, I name it and poof!  I have what I need instantly.  Oh yes, I’m grateful.  I’m always saying “Thank you Jesus!”  People think I’m really religious since they hear my thanks so often.  I even try to do things for Jesus to keep him happy there in my purse.  God forbid he should jump out and quit taking care of me.

Oh wait!  I have just broken the second commandment and broken it in a huge way.  I’ve made a Jesus in my image.  This is NOT the Jesus who came to earth to teach me who HE is and what HE wants of me.  This is not the Jesus who “set his face like flint” and headed to Calvary so He could die for me and the boatload of silly, selfish, foolish users just like me who treat the Lord of Heaven and Earth like my personal assistant.  This is not the Jesus who asked me if I would take up my cross and follow him.  This is not the Jesus who told me to love God with all my heart(passion), all my soul (emotion), all my mind (faith), and all my strength (commitment), and actually commanded me to love the other person (any other person in need) as much as I love myself.  No, the real Jesus won’t ever fit in my purse, and I have to ask if He will fit in my puny life.  My life is about keeping my shoes clean, looking good and not breaking a nail.  My life is the life of a “nice” lady who is only beginning to realize the depth of her sin and the enormity of the loving grace of Jesus.

The Alabaster Jar

March 15, 2010

Lord, I’m looking at Your response to the woman who poured perfume over You, and I see some new things.  I see extravagance on her part we nust never see today.  She sacrificed probably a year’s wages to honor You.  How many of us have hearts like that?  This alabaster jar of perfume may have been her dowery.  She sacrificed, in a sense, her whole future for love of You.  I see a motive of pure love and sacrifice of literally all she had.  She may not have plotted shrewdly where her gift could do the most good, but she gave out of the deepest, most beautiful desire to honor You.  You were pleased.

A Way to Look at Forgiveness

February 14, 2010

Forgiveness means I don’t allow a few snapshots to color my opinion of the whole film.  I may see a person during one or more bad times, but I haven’t seen their whole life.  Especially important is to remember I haven’t seen the end of the story–theirs or mine.  God still has lots of work to do with all His children, me included.