LANGUAGE OF THE MAKER: A LOVING DEFINITION
THIS WEEK AT LWF!
Tomorrow morning, Guatemalan missionary Jason Patton will visit Living Word, host the Sunday School period, and speak during the testimony portion of the service.
“Abuse of Words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, of faction, and division of society.”
When we hear the greatest commands are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," (Matthew 22:36–40) we easily respond by an affirmative and resounding "yes! I love God like that! (or at least I try to)."
Biblical love is not a feeling. It's a behavior. It is our conduct in spite of our feelings, towards him to whom we are equal (man) and towards Him to Whom we are not (Almighty God). Both are owed in full, and we are, before we are in Christ, already indebted on that account. Emotion itself is not wrong (God Himself feels things), but cannot be our standard of measure, or worse, Truth.
Americans, both Secular and Sanctified, have long since found themselves hoodwinked by a Roman and paganized understanding of love, namely a Random, Irresistible Force, personified in the Eros/cupid myth. We walk away from marital vows because we've "fallen out of love" with our spouse (as if love is a boat). Today, "love" has come to mean nothing more than unconditional endorsement of someone's behavior, regardless of its sinfulness or self-destructiveness. Anyone who rejects the endorsement of sin is labeled "toxic" and that is that, dusted and done, thank you kindly.
Don't we often view love as a feeling, as adoration or affection? Aren't we told that the distillation of all the Laws of God hang upon those two blessed sentences?
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind
Love thy neighbour as thyself
My own King James Bible renders the word "love" in many passages (including I Corinthians 13 ... you know, the "Love" chapter) as "Charity," and this is fitting. Charity is a categorical subset of Love, a more specific variant: that which sacrifices itself for another. It means to actively place a higher value upon another's needs and wants than on our own. Put still another way, it is to act against our natural instinct, even to our instinct to survive. There's a reason Jesus says that the laying down of one's life for a friend is something for which there "is no greater love," meaning a sacrificial giving, not an emotion. No, "the greatest of these is" not Love (a feeling), but Charity (a sacrifice). Men are told to love their wives "as Christ loved the Church," in that He sacrificed Himself for Her, not that He had fuzzy feelings towards Her. Feelings can certainly accompany all kinds of love. That's why the word "romance" exists. Regardless of whether your or my Bible uses the word "charity" or "love," the crucial thing is to read it with the Biblical, and not the Roman, definition of what love actually is, a matter of conduct in spite of feeling rather than the feeling itself.
If we're honest, most of us would rather that feelings be our standard of love. Those are easy to defend and inflate. We already know we sin, both in heart and deed, and so betray the very idea of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We do so neither inwardly nor outwardly. Our standard of love is shown by Jesus as He loved His Bride (Church). Does Jesus always have warm feelings toward His Bride? Did He towards the Israelites when Moses came down the mountain?
Feelings are not love. They are feelings. We are often angry with God. Job was. The distillation of the commands into those two was conveyed, particularly in Luke 10:25-37, to us by the Savior to, first, make plain what is involved in righteous action, and second, to make clear that we are incapable of achieving it.
Nobody can love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We need His help, even in this. He has paid our debts, if we only humble ourselves in repentance and worship. God is Love not because He has warm feelings towards us, but because He gave Himself for us, when we were dead in our sins. Praise His name that His standard was not emotion, but conduct, and His was perfect in all its ways.
He gave us the righteous model of Love. Go love fiercely.
(other than your Bible, obviously)
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
This month's book is a bit headier than some, but no less worth reading than others. Habermas has written excellent and extensive books on defending not only the accuracy of the New Testament, but on the historical fact of the Resurrection of Jesus (book after book on the subject). He has also written sholarly works on out-of-body experiences like that of Bruce Van Natta's. You'll find this work in the brand new LWF library, and you'll find several of his other works in my office (ask, if you're interested in those).
“[There] is an important difference between the apostle martyrs and those who die for their beliefs today. Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false.”
― Gary Habermas: The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus
ON THE HORIZON AT LWF:
Summer Bible Study
In the wake of a growing Wednesday night Bible Study, Inheritors' Youth Fellowship, and other events, we are shifting all Wednesday night gatherings to the LWF building. Normally, we meet in people's homes through the summer months (I am very fond of this tradition), but this year, the church is better served to remain where it is for these events. We hope to see you all there!
Until next time! God go with you, brothers and sisters in Christ.