Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What's Love Got To Do With It?

One of the attributes I love about my husband is his deep-thinking, analytical processing. He doesn't ignore the important topics just because they're hard to wrestle with and he's not intimidated by illogical ranting. He doesn't go looking for an argument, but he's prepared to debate the argument if that's what's necessary and vital. Even though he detests conflict, he's just as passionate about the truth as I am. In fact, in many situations, he's able to get at the root of an issue much more efficiently and rationally than I do. It takes me longer to weed through the weedy brush surrounding a topic. 

That said, we have many discussions, fleshing out our beliefs and why we believe them. Ultimately, everything we stand on must be mounted to Scripture. If we push that standard aside, our beliefs slip into subjective oblivion based on emotions and experiences and deficient human nature. 

The other day, we examined the debate circling the word "love." Love used to have a more solidified meaning, but in today's culture, love has hit the fan and splattered across the wall in distorted forms. 

Now, for those who do not believe in the Bible or God's standards of truth, you can concoct your own definition of love based on your feelings or the cultural trends of transitory experiences. But, if you do that, please don't think you can then coerce your subjective ideas on anyone else. Your ideas are based on nothing more than your personal preference and don't come outside yourself. 

For those who recognize that truth must come from Someone unchanging and eternal and altogether holy, than we look to I Corinthians 13:4-8. He's the one who makes the rules, the definitions, and sense of everything. 

Here's how my husband put it:

Love is a seriously misunderstood idea within our culture. God alone is the source of love. We have the privilege of being able to love God and others because he first loved us. Because of our sin nature, we have a distorted view of love and therefore struggle to love properly. What should be our standard for love? For the Christian (and Christian love is what you are calling into question), our source of truth is the Bible:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

One thing you notice is that none of the descriptors are feelings. Each is a choice or ultimately a response to the love that we are given. Obviously, the Church does not always reflect or choose to consistently uphold the biblical standard for love. Why? Because we are still broken, sinful people that struggle to properly reflect the image of our creator. When we surrender our life to God, we do not cease to sin. Again, this is a reminder of our depravity
 My desire for myself and the Church is to truly love others and because of that love speak truth boldly and humbly. The bold truth is founded in what God teaches: that love does not rejoice at wrongdoing (in any manifestation), but rejoices with the truth. It would be unloving for the Church to embrace a sinful lifestyle. Sadly, we don’t express that truth with humility.

We often try to fix the manifestation or symptom of our sin rather than focus on the root problem. We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

How has "love" becoming something it's not?  I love my children, but I certainly don't love or embrace everything they do. They do some wrong things, and it would be altogether unloving for me to say, "Ya know what? It's okay. It's what you felt like doing today and I need to let you be you." They aren't the sum total of their choices. Their identity isn't secured in their choices. Thank God!  They also don't get to make up their own identity or rules. God established our identity and purpose a long time ago, and we had nothing to do with it. 
I would gently and lovingly remind them that if you play with fire, you get burned. So, stay away from the flame. Will they be tempted to touch it at times? Of course.  But, the loving thing any of us can do is encourage one another toward that which is life-giving, that which is truth. My children aren't their own gods--and neither am I.  Knowing Him as God (not some Being we can control or manipulate) allows me to walk in wisdom and understanding and my true purpose.

Proverbs 9:10 (NLT)

 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

John Piper puts true love in these terms:The love of God is not God's making much of us, but God's saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God.  Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.  (emphasis mine)

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