The bible says that "If God is for us then who can be against us"
Getting Real About Life, about Love, and about God
I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live in relationship with Jesus.
I am in a denomination that likes record keeping. We are asked to keep track of baptisms, professions of faith, membership, worship attendance, attendance for bible study and christian education and giving. We want to keep records of how the numbers change from year to year. Each year we fill out year end report to create a record of what happened in the year. Because we keep these records we can go back to just about any year and bring up the numbers to compare. We are record keepers of certain types of records, not all. I could spend many post on the topic of our churches record keeping but that really gets nowhere. I bring this up because it came to mind as I thought about the 1 Corinthians 13 description of love that says "love keeps no record of wrong." Record keeping, hmm?
I looked at some other translations of the bible to try to understand this description more fully. It is interesting that the King James translates this part of verse 5 as "thinketh no evil" and both the New Revised Standard and the English Standard version use the phrase "not resentful". The Message says, "doesn't keep score of the sins of others". The Arabic Bible translates to "not keeping a record of the abuse."
When we are resentful we just continue to think about the wrong and abuse that others have done. When we hold resent in our hearts we just hold onto the evil and the wrong of others. It is like keeping records or keeping score of what someone has done to us so that it is easy to recall and easy to compare. We keep it ever before us so that we never see the good we just stay focused on the evil. We hold onto the evil, keep the record, and keep that record playing over and over. Maybe they are talking about a record like we had when I was a kid that you recorded music on. We do that don't we when we are resentful of what others have done or the abuse we have faced we just play the scene, play what was said over and over in our minds. And it consumes us and robs us of our ability to move on. It robs us of our ability to live. It traps us in the past so we cant experience the present. It makes us bitter. Love however takes a different path. Love keeps no records and does not keep score. Instead of thinking on the evil and the abuse and letting it consume us we focus on the good. The Bible gives us a prescription for how to overcome being trapped in resentment and bitterness and to become more loving, forgiving and grace filled.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:4-9
Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not focus on the evil it looks for the good. It lives in the present moment and the joy of the Lord today.
In Christ's love and mine,
Sorry about the interruption. It seems that I hit a roadblock to blogging right in the midst of reflecting on Paul's description of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. I realize that it is probably a bit presumptuous of me to think that there are people who come here each day looking for what I have written and notice a lapse in regular posts. However, I notice and it is a good discipline for me and my relationship with God so the sorry is most likely to me and to God.
Paul writes," love is not easily angered."
My first thoughts on this description of love is what it is not saying. It does not say that love never gets angry. It says it does not anger easily. It is patient with me and with you. Love does not just jump instantly to anger. It does not fly off the handle or give a knee jerk reaction. Love is not easily angered. But, love at times gets angry.
Jesus most famous incident of anger, which is always brought up when we talk about getting angry, was the turning of the money changers tables in the temple. Jesus clearly is angry with the situation. He is angry with the selling of things in the temple. He is angry with shift from worship to capitalism. He is angry with the idea personal gain off the worship of God. He is angry at the perversion of worship.
I think he is angry because he loves the people in the temple and he loves the Father. He recognizes that this activity, which he can do something about, is keeping them from understanding and expressing their love for God. In fact, it has replaced it. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers."
Because love is a deeply rooted emotion that is patient, kind, not rude, does not boast, and is not self seeking it can and will become angry at injustice, abuse and oppression. However, we should never anger easily and our anger is never toward people or for selfish reasons.
Often times when we get angry it is over things that we should not get angry about. We are angry for selfish reasons or we are angry for no real reason at all. Often times anger is just the emotion that we know so it is what we go with even though what are really feeling is sorrow, grief, or disappointment. We need to be slow to anger so that we take the time to really look within ourselves and discover what it really is that we are feeling. If I am slow to anger I may may see that I am really not angry at all. I might discover that I am really just being selfish and that is why I am mad because I am not getting my way. I am not thinking about God or about others-- just me. If I am slow to anger I might discover that I am really hurt and I need God to comfort me. I may also discover that there is something that I can do to change the situation and my anger is a catalyst for change in the world around me. If I am slow to anger I can keep my anger from being directed towards the object of my love and direct it towards what is really the cause of my anger. This is not easy but it is what love does. Love never is angry at people. Love is angry at injustice, abuse, oppression, perversion, distortion of the truth, and separation of God. It separates people from behavior and my not love an behavior but always loves the person.
If love does not get angry there is no Christmas and there is no Easter. God just doesn't care about his creation being separated from him for all eternity. However, I believe that God is angry with his creation being separated from him. He is angry at the situation because he loves us but he is not angry at his creation. If he is angry at us he just punishes us. Strikes us down and it is over. If he is selfish he just says "you don't obey me so you are doomed."
If God's anger is directed at people and not the catalyst to change the situation-- Jesus never leaves the comfort of Heaven. But, because God loves us and cares about our situation he does for us what we cannot do for our selves. He is motivated because he does not like the situation to do something to change it. He is not mad or angry with us, he loves us, so he enters into this God forsaken world, to change the situation and turn the tables. Loves is slow to anger and when it's anger is expressed it is an ultimate expression of love for the other. It is a catalyst for change. It is used for good and to restore and rebuild not to tear down and destroy.
You see the opposite of love is not anger or hate it is indifference. To not care at all. Love cares and because it cares it will at times be angry with situations, circumstance, behaviors, and events but never people. But, love is slow to become angry and it takes the time to evaluate motives and feelings and to consider action.
"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not rude or self seeking, it is not easily angered."
In Christ's love and mine,
I am beginning to see a theme. Love and selfishness do not mix. They cannot co-exist even. You can not have it both ways.
As I was thinking about how love is not self-seeking I was reminded of how Jesus earthly ministry begins. I was thinking about the the time after Jesus is baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist and then immediately he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days. We are told that Jesus ate nothing during this time and was tempted by the devil. For 40 days Jesus is pressured, prodded, and proposition by the devil to seek something other than God's will for his live. The devil tries as hard as he can to get Jesus to stop loving us. To love himself more. He tries to convince him to think about himself and not about us. Maybe because even the devil knows that selfishness and love do not go together.
The devils first move is to try to convince a hungry Jesus to turn stones into bread to feed himself. The next move, the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and all their authority and splendor. All Jesus has to do is worship him. The offer is for Jesus to be the King of Kings without the cross. The devil offers Jesus a shortcut. Love does not take the shortcut. Without the cross we could not be restored into a relationship with God. Jesus loves us and wants to have a relationship with us for all eternity. It is not about kingdoms and authority it is about love. His mission will not take shortcuts. If he is self-seeking he probably takes the shortcut. If he is self-seeking he probably whips up some bread for dinner. But, Jesus is not seeking what is in it for him. He is thinking about you and me. He is not seeking his own comfort or his own glory. He is seeking us. He come to seek and to save us.
The move from self-centered to God centered happens as we move from being self-seeking to God-seeking. As we seek first God and his Kingdom all others things are added to us and our love becomes more like his. This is not self loathing or not loving yourself it is about loving God and loving others. It is about seeking God not self. Love is not self-seeking. Jesus gives us the example.
In Christ's love and mine,
I remember growing up being told "don't be rude." This usually was when I had interrupted someone or my body made inappropriate noises. As I grew older I begin to see that rudeness was about more than noises or just social norms. My parents and teachers where helping me to honor others. When we cut in and talk over someone it inadvertently says "what I have to say is more important than what you are saying." When we are inappropriate in our action and behavior around others we are saying "we don't care what they think."
This is what love does. It is not proud. It celebrates others and recognizes their importance. It is selfless and about the other. I thank God that when I reflect upon love there are people in my life that come to mind that are examples of what love is (and that he is a 17 year old friend of my son). I often talk about how there are people in our life, and we need to be people, who are little windows into the love of God. We catch a glimpse of what God's love is all about through these people. Through a window we can only see a small portion of what is on the other side. We can't see everything that is out there but we can see part of it and understand what it is like. People like Chase can help us to catch a glimpse of what it means that love is not proud. I hope you have someone in you life that is not proud and recognizes and celebrates the importance of you. That is what love does.
In Christ's love and mine,