Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Definition of Love

Where do I start today? I have recently been going through these family struggles, and they have cut deep into my soul. I have to admit, I have been sensitive as of late, especially towards the concept of loving others. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand, despite what many may think, that while my faith is rooted in love, there is a real need of salvation, and a real understanding that God is a Holy God, who is jealous, and takes issue with those who say they love him, but in reality don’t live like it, or don’t practice the things they know he instructs us to do in his Holy Word, the Bible.

I could say a ton of things here, but here is what I know, while God is a jealous God that will execute justice, he is also a God that loves; it is the ultimate purpose of the gift of his son, Jesus Christ.

I had this discussion with a friend today as I sat in a coffee shop, meeting people, and today, watching the snow come down in a late Spring snowstorm; I know that people get saved for different reasons. It is funny how some people ignore this, but it is clear that God used different methods in the Bible to illustrate this. Some get saved and come to know Jesus because of fire insurance, they want to escape hell. Others may get saved because they recognize their own need for love and there is no better place to discover love than through the love of God. The bottom line: I don’t care how it is, or why it is a person gets saved, I am just glad they do. Now I realize all of the theology that has to go into that salvation thing, the recognition of sin, the concept of making Jesus Lord, not just Savior and I could go on and on. What I don’t understand is this concept that some people call love, when in reality, it mirrors nothing of the love as it is described in the Bible.

While we are commanded to love all people, I need to make it clear, it is possible to love someone but not like them. This one friend of mine seems to have this incredible desire to be a modern day prophet, yet through his own admission has misstated certain Biblical concepts. That should disqualify him from a true Biblical prophet in my opinion. He is young though, and maybe his dogmas will one day soften to where he sees more of Jesus than he seems to see now. I guess that is the one thing that bothers me; we have all heard of WWJD, What would Jesus do? The sad thing is, we can look at Jesus in the Bible and see what he did. It is true, there were times he confronted others, but most every time, if not every time, it was towards the religious population. I guess it just bothers me how some can be so destructive to those who clearly state, that salvation comes from Christ and that Jesus loves them.

Being wrong on certain issues don’t disqualify someone from being a Christian. An unwillingness to seriously look at, and evaluate the positions one takes from the Bible, and apply it to their own life practice does become an issue and can provide certain qualifications as to who is, and is not a real follower of Jesus. When elitism comes into play, there are concerns. When Nationalism has an affect on your life practice that is in direct opposition to Scripture, then that is a problem. When taking what is clearly pride, in confronting people, in a stated “loving” way that does not follow the Biblical definition of love that is a problem. This is a problem with many in today’s evangelical movement. They would rather stand on the street corners yelling at people through bullhorns, than applying the concepts given in Matthew 25 where we are told to feed the hungry, visit those in prison, heal and be with the sick, and on and on. It is a concept that seems to ignore the 2,000 plus verses in the Bible that talks about loving and helping the poor and needy, the orphans and the widows. It is a message, well; it is a message that is not consistent with the directives of the Bible, or the life of Jesus. It is time, that love conquers hate, because love has already conquered hate, but some have no concept of what love is because the message of love is being diluted and polluted by the haters with their bullhorns.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that some take pride in confronting others, in creating discord and as of recent, telling about the evils of all “Emergent’s” when in fact there is not an “Emergent” belief system as there is no “Emergent” organization. Some have this habit of pulling things out of context and either misquoting people, or simply misunderstanding them. I could go on but for those who know people like this, they either agree with me, or they totally disagree with me and will now vilify me and others who take this position. Although I believe in a real Hell, I believe the Bible is God’s Word, although I promote the reading, understanding and application of the Bible in ones own life they will still find reason to vilify people who agree with these concepts, just like they already do with others. I wish people understood; it is not in the reading and knowledge of the Bible where one finds its true power and purpose; it is in the application of the Bible in ones life. Some will be upset because we disagree with the all knowing, all powerful Oz.

For those redefining what love is and others who would give a definition rather than what the Bible states, I remind you of what the Bible does say about Love. I would be so bold as to say, anything contrary to this definition is not really love.

1 Corinthians 13

(1) If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

(4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part, (10) but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (12) Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

(13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Of course the book of Hosea in the Bible gives another illustration of love that seems to be foreign to the Fred Phelps Judgment crowd, but it is easy to ignore that which provides balance and a real definition of love.

Many often confuse the concept of love, with the concept of righteous judgment. While one may be done in love, it is not love. It is kind of like talking about The Dallas Cowboys football team, and then all of a sudden making reference to a speeding ticket, two different subjects that are not related. When the focus is on judgment, or when on one is right and everyone else is wrong, when the focus seems to be on actually drawing attention to oneself, (yes this often occurs, it is a joy for some to be wrong, and not Biblically based in their teachings) then it is wrong.

I have often wondered, why do we have to try and say things differently than what the Bible illustrates, for example, when giving a definition of love that is contrary to the concepts of love illustrated in the Bible, do we really think we can do a better job than the Holy Spirit? When that definition is contrary to what is in the Biblical definition of love, what is that all about?

The Bible talks about an Eros, Philo and Agape love, any definition outside of those definitions is not in fact a true discussion about love. I wonder, do these people really care that they are chasing more people away from the Gospel than they are "drawing" them to it as Christ illustrated we should. Their methods against a dog would result in that dog running from them, and ultimately getting run over by a car, but they don't care, they justify their willingness to kill, send to hell others by the simple fact that they redefined love. God help us all, and especially those who would tolerate this message of hate that is disguised like love. While there will be a judgment, I pray some will remember that is God’s job, not ours.

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