Sunday, April 22, 2007

How deep is your love

"Love" is such a multifaceted thing that it's hard to really wrap your brain around it entirely. As I said in my last post, the "mountain" of God's love has so many wonderful caves and internal caverns to explore, that in this lifetime (while we're still living in our earth suits), we'll really only skim the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discovering the fullness of it. There's a lot to explore!

And I've even found that there are some facets of it that I've wanted to deny or ignore, because it doesn't fit my preconceived notion of "love." I want everyone to "be happy and get along." In my life of love, I don't want to have to confront others or be confronted. I want God's love to be perfect peace and joy and serenity. I want to always be encouraged and to always encourage. This is just a small sample of what I think perfect love would be. But there are other facets of love that seem harder for us to understand. Hopefully I'll provoke thought here, and if anything I say doesn't sit well with you, I'd love to hear from you. I can take it. :)

Would you expect that an act of "love" would ever intentionally cause a farmer to lose his whole herd? If someone were to ask you how to obtain eternal life, would you perhaps give him John 3:16 or would you intentionally say some things that would cause sorrow in his heart? If some people were doing some evil things in your church or regular meeting place, and you wanted to respond in love, how would you respond?

As I look back on my life, and as I look at God's loving interaction with people, I see things that don't fit my mold of what "love" is. The Son of God, Jesus, revealed that the things He did and the things He said were the work of the Father in Him. Jesus walked in the Father's love. And here's how Love interacted with people in these situations:

"Legion" had entered a man. There were a ton of demons in him. "Love" (Jesus) cast the demons out and sent them into a herd of 2,000 swine. The swine went running into a lake and died. Good for the man. Not so good for the owner of the swine (which were, by the way, "unclean" animals) nor for the economy of the community. The people asked Jesus to leave. I don't recall Him staying and begging or pleading with them or explaining His reasoning.

A "rich young ruler" asked Jesus, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17-22) What did Jesus say? Well, He had previously had a conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus about eternal life. Jesus quoted John 3:16 to Nicodemus (literally). :) So why did He give such a different answer to the rich young ruler's question about how to obtain eternal life?

Jesus answered the man, "You know the commandments."

(That's so not John 3:16!)

Well, the man justified himself with, "Yeah, I've kept them."

"Oh really? Actually, you still lack something. Go sell all you have and give to the poor."

And with that, Jesus let the man go away sad. Love sure is strange. And again, I don't recall Jesus running after the man explaining His motives.

And then there's the incident in which Jesus' love for the Father resulted in quite a show of passion in the temple of God, when He drove people out and overturned tables and said, in love of course, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves!'"

I'm just saying.

Love is a many splendored thing.

Many tentacles. Many circuits. Many sides. Many angles. Multifaceted.

Getting back to Jesus' answer to the rich young ruler ("sell all you have and give to the poor"), here's one more thing about love that tells me that I've only just begun to explore its fullness. In Matthew's account of the story (Matt 19:16-22), Jesus quoted a few of the commandments when the man asked, "which ones?" One of the commandments Jesus quoted was from Leviticus 19:18, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

We seem to be able to pay attention to the love your neighbor part, and I've heard great sermons preached about loving others. But what does as yourself really mean? What does love look like if we love others in the same way that we love ourselves? If we searched for the fullness of God's love, and could fully express the love of God that is part of the divine nature that we've become partakers of, would we even have to think about selling all we have and giving to the poor?

Just in case anyone's thinking I've flipped my lid and I'm backsliding into legalism by questioning how well we really love others - that's far from my intention. :) I'm just saying that God's love is so deep and far and wide that we all have a long way to go when it comes to living in its fullness. And the point of it all is that day by day, moment by moment, we grow in the love that is already ours. Rather than being discouraged by how far we have to go, we take great courage and we explore with eagerness this awesome mountain of God's love.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man!! That's such a cool metaphor.
    Gods love is a mountain that we spend our lives exploring. Growing more familiar with it and becoming more at home on it everyday. All the while excited and maybe a little bit scared about what we'll discover next. Thanks Joel.