Friday, July 8, 2011
The Discipline of Love
"God is love" (1 John 4:16). I hesitate to write anything else. Pause for a few moments and just soak that in - "God is love." So what in the world does that mean? I certainly can't ever address the magnitude of that in a blog, a book or life, but I've got a glimmer of it through Christ. God gave, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..." (NIV) Love gives. Love is not about taking, love is about sacrificing, putting everything on the line for the one(s) you love or care about.
Love is not just about the soft, mushy, tender feelings one may have for a new born baby or for your lover, your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your dog or cat. Not if you think of God being love; the epitome of love, the founder, the creator of love.
When I think of love, I first think of Jesus-God incarnate, God in the flesh. I think of the universe and its vastness. I think of the beauty and infinite care with which it was made. I think of being, breathing in, existing in the expanse of God, his creation, his love. Yes, I also think of the love of a parent for a child and of a man for a woman or a woman for a man. But I tend to think more of the "Discipline of love" immediately after I think of God being love and demonstrating his love to us by sending Jesus. Love is making difficult choices regardless of how you feel, to honor God and act righteously. Let me repeat that with an addendum: "Love is making difficult choices regardless of how you feel, to honor God and act righteously, over and over and over and over again." 1 Cor. 13:8 says it, "Love NEVER fails." (i.e., Love NEVER gives up!)
The previous verse (1 Cor. 13:7) says, love "...ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres." Is your heart and mind bursting yet? After we come down off the mountain top of our emotional experiences of love, then comes true demonstration of love in the nitty-gritty, sometimes mundane, sometimes drudgery responsibilities of love and life. Because our understanding of love is often so carnal, emotional and shallow, we have to turn to the constant example of God through his Son, Jesus and follow his commands, if we are to truly experience the fullness of love.
"...Love covers a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)
"...How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins agains me? Up to seven times?
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22)
"This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands." (1 John 5:2-3)
Prayer: (Ephesians 3:16-19)
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he (God) may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."