Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Love is Blindness

Love is blindness, I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night Around me?
Oh my love

A little death Without mourning
No call And no warning
Baby, a dangerous idea That almost makes sense

Maybe you recognize this title.  It is the title of a well known U2 song from many years ago.  The lyrics have always struck a chord with me and it was only recently that I discovered why. 

In reading the nature of love as laid out by Jesus, not only were the people of his day being confronted by something so counter-cultural and against the grain to rational thinking, we today are also often tripping over the same stumbling blocks of truly comprehending the extent to which He intended us to follow His example to "love others".

Love is blind.  Love is not foolish, stupid, or deprived of knowledge.  True love acts in spite of knowledge, moves with full understanding of consequence and repercussion.  Love closes its eyes to the "what-ifs" and "why-we-shouldn't" and moves in spite of.  There is no "love" without "sacrifice".  The two go hand-in-hand.  Sacrifice of time, of wealth, sometimes even of well-being.  Sacrifice always moves "affection for" into the realm of "proven love".  In fact, Jesus stated that the ultimate example of love is demonstrated in total self sacrifice.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 ESV

And this love is the word "agape" brought to us in the Greek.  The outflowing "love-feast" radiating towards others.  It's not a casual relational acquaintance with others.  It's a sacrificial call to self for the reclamation of souls and the well-being of others even at extreme personal cost.  Reckless and messy this love dives in front of the world's traffic to rescue the one from being crushed by the masses who ignore and trample under.  This love shares in abuses, feels with, cries with, and rejoices with.

Daily this love must be cultivated, tended to, and regularly brought forth like a life giving harvest.  It is the fruitful outgrowth of the indwelling of God's presence in the Christ follower's life as shown in Galatians 5:22-23.  It is one of many fruit that build up and strengthen each one of us for this life and the eternity ahead. 

It is only with this love, that we can truly see the world as our Savior sees.  Until then, we walk in blindness.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Building the Man

The basics.  It's what we  start with.  It's what we build upon.  It's what we often take for granted.  Whether it be walking, riding a bike, typing, or driving there is something in our lives that we do every day automatically without thought because we've mastered the basics.  Whether employed or a stay-at-home parent, a student in school, or a retiree at the breakfast counter, we rely upon these basics as essentials even when we don't give them a second thought.  These are the things we learned early in life and built additional skills upon.  Then we built additional skills upon those skills and so on.  They are the essentials.

Here is a problem many, including myself, often face with "the basics":  We tend to apply this physical/external/natural rule of law to the spiritual/relational side of our lives.  The basics of salvation, the basics of relationship, the basics of communion with a being of indescribable awe inspiring splendor who is all knowing and all present and yet chooses to personalize Himself to each of us in the daily moments of our lives.  I am guilty of "mastering" these basics and looking to move on.

Yet, constantly I am reminded that just when I think I've got it together, I don't.  I fail.  I fall short.  "All have sinned..."  Yep.  That's me.  I've been professing Christ since I was a child and at mid-life I still shame myself, miss the mark, roll in the mud.  Lately I've been fairly frustrated with this truth.  Why at my stage in life do I not have it more together?  Why can't I claim to be a spiritual upperclassman?  I'm active in my church, I volunteer with organizations, I'm busy, busy, busy.  Why do I still come back to the basics in my personal walk?  The problem is there are no basics, only the truth of the Living Word and a continual pursuit of relationship that will not end this side of eternity.

I was recently reading through Galatians and this passage hit me:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Why did these verses grab my attention?  Because, for me, these are the essentials, the basics.  Sort of like when Jesus shocked the pharisees and scholars by telling them all of law and prophets and the ridiculously long list of add-ons that had been tacked on by men were essentially summed up with "Love God with everything in you" and "Love your neighbor as yourself".  Basic.

These are the markers of our walk, the evidence of the effectiveness of the indwelling of God's Spirit in our lives.  But here's what they are not.  They are not stagnant building blocks of the faith or items to be checked off a list.  "Got patience down, next!"  These are fruit that we must continuously be producing, that's why they are called fruit.  When an apple tree gives apples in the fall it isn't ready to move onto something else - you expect continuous similar and regular results from it.  Such is it with these.

This is a bit of an epiphany for me as I've never really viewed these verses in this manner.  They previously just listed some really good attributes that all Christ followers should be trying to incorporate into their lives. 

I'll be doing some additional study into each of these and maybe even write on some of them, but for now, I'm thankful that it's more than just back to basics.  It's continual living, breathing relationship with Him and His Word.  These are what build the man.