Friday, December 01, 2006

Do you guys really want to know what love is?

I'm firmly convinced that we were created to glorify God, but how do we glorify God? To ask it another way, what is it in us that glorifies God?

What does God see in us that pleases Him?

The only thing God could perceive as intrinsicly lovely is God Himself. Thus, God is glorified when He sees Himself in us. God is glorified when the Fruit of the Spirit is manifest in our lives.

In contrast to the preceding bad stuff that believers should avoid (Gal 5:19-21), the Spirit working in and through a believer brings forth effects known as the Fruit of the Spirit:
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
I'd like to examine each aspect of the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit. First, we'll look at love.

Lily Tomlin said, "If love is the answer, Could you rephrase the question?"

Love may be a "many-splendored thing," but it's often confusing, misunderstood, and that which makes cynics when it goes bad.

Just ask Mr. J. Geils:
I've had the blues, the reds and the pinks. One thing's for sure ... love stinks.
Before you chime in with "yeah, yeah," we must first make sure we have an appropriate understanding of what love is ... biblically speaking, that is.

Do you guys really want to know what love is?

I think I heard you say, "I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me." In that case, I will.

Let's try to ask and answer two questions:
1. What is love?
2. What does love look like as Fruit of the Spirit?

1. What is love? (baby, don't hurt me)

It is my contention that there is great confusion in our culture about what love really is.

Is love a second-hand emotion?
Oh, what's love got to do with it?
What's love but a second-hand emotion?
What's love got to do with it?
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken? -Tina Turner
Is love something you cook up in the oven?!
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.
-Dean Martin

The word love tends to bring to mind the notion of romantic love, but for many that's just another form of selfishness.

In other words, love is the way you make me feel. This is the notion of "being in love" with someone. When that feeling goes away, so does the love.

Even in love most people tend to operate according to the Law of WIIFM (What's In It For Me?).

Someday one of my daughters will try to convince me that I should accept some spare guy who she’s interested in because she loves him and he loves her. I'm no dummy. He’s not interested in her, but in himself. He wants her for what she can do for him or for how he feels when he’s with her. Because he loves himself, he wants her.

At least Meatloaf was honest when he sang, “I want you. I need you. But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you. But don’t feel sad, ‘cause two out of three ain’t bad.”
Genuine love is other-centered, a willingness to sacrifice for another (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7).
You can give without loving,
But you cannot love without giving.
-Amy Carmichael
True love goes beyond "being in love" and true romantic love is intimacy (cf. parallel of God & His people in Eph 5:25-32). Aristotle said, "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. " There is a union that transcends someone's heart going pitty-pat.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote:
“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. ... In fact, the state of being in love usually does not last. ... But of course ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love ... is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask and receive from God. ... They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep their promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”
2. What does love look like as Fruit of the Spirit? How is God glorified by a Christian exhibiting love of the fruit of the Spirit variety?

First, we glorify God as the Fruit of the Spirit by loving differently than the heathen do. That means that we have love for people of different races. It also means that we exhibit unexpected love. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we see both of these aspects as what Jesus expects for those endeavoring to love their neighbor.

The Samaritan winds up being the hero of the story, contrary to the expectation of the audience where he would not have been expected to help the Jewish traveler, for a Jewish traveler certainly would not have helped one of his race. Instead of the priest or the Levite getting to be the hero, they did not demonstrate love, which would have been expected, but the half-breed outcast did. Why? Because his love for another was genuine as he loved contrary to the manner of the non-believers. His love was unexpected and crossed racial boundaries.

To love differently than the world also means that you have love for those who hate you, your enemies. It's easy to love those who love you, even the non-Christians do that. Jesus raises the bar for the behavior of His followers by insisting on loving the unlovable (Matt 5:46-47), just as was done for us (Rom 5:8).

Second, we glorify God as the Fruit of the Spirit when our lives as individuals and as a church are characterized by love. In fact, if we don't have love even those deeds which look good profit us nothing (1 Cor 13:1-13).

What is it that should characterize a church? What quality chiefly characterizes us as Christian? (John 13:34-35) What one word sums up the Christian life, experience, obligation, etc.?

LOVE! Love for God. Love for others. (Matt 22:36-40)

The implication? Glorify God with your love.

Love differently than the heathen do.
By nature we choose our friends, a church, a spouse, etc. for what we can get out of it.

But glorify God with your love means to love even when you won’t get anything in return. Glorifying God with your love means to love by faith, for the Christian life is faith expressing itself through love (Gal 5:6). Glorify God when you worship as you sing of your affection for Him.

Love as God loved you. (1 John 4:7-12)
Mother Teresa said, "There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread."

People yearn to be loved, just as was the case with us. He loved us when we didn't deserve it. Love others who also don't deserve it, if you want to glorify God with your love.

My prayer for you is the same as Paul’s prayer for the Philippians (Phil 1:9-11):
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
If we are to glorify God, we must ask how is that done. We glorify Him by obedience as our deeds reflect His character (Matt 5:16). What's the motivation to obedience? Our love fuels our obedience, for the one who obeys Christ is the one who loves Him (John 14:21). How does one come to love Christ? He who is forgiven much, will love much (Luke 7:47).

As a pastor, I see it as my job to coach my flock to better glorify God. It seems to me that key in that equation is to help them understand their forgiveness that their love my grow into obedience that people see that moves them to glorify God.

Do you guys really want to know what love is?
Look to the cross, for there's no greater demonstration.


At 01 December, 2006 09:30, Blogger deines said...

So I guess the "love" from the Gun's Roses Song, "I used to love her but I had to kill her" wasn't really talking about biblical love then, huh?

At 01 December, 2006 09:47, Blogger Rev. said...

MeatLoaf wasn't always honest. His song, "Pardise by the Dashboard Light," illustrates your point about the world's concept of "love."

Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further--!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?
Do you need me!?
Will you never leave me!?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life!?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife!?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!!!?
Will you love me forever!!!?

Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
And I'll give you my answer in the morning

[Then, when she won't let him "sleep on it"...]

I couldn't take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
I started swearing to my god and on my mother's grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!

So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive
I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!

At 02 December, 2006 23:38, Blogger GUNNY said...

Hey, you got give Meatloaf credit, he said he would love her 'til the end of time and ... he's keeping his promise, just wanting to speed up that end!

After all, he would do anything for love. He'd run right into hell and back.

He knows ...
Some days it don't come easy.
Some days it don't come hard.
Some days it don't come at all, and these are the days that never end.
Some nights you're breathing fire.
Some nights you're carved in ice.
Some nights you're like nothing I've ever seen before or will again.

But, you better believe that he would do anything for love ... but he won't do that. No, no, no he won't do that.

At 03 December, 2006 11:35, Anonymous selahV said...

Gunny, like your post. Need to read your archives and in time I will. I like another dialog on love:
"Peter, do you love me"
"Yes, Lord I love you"
"Feed my sheep"
"Peter, do you love me"
"Yes, Lord I love you"
"Feed my sheep"
"Peter, do you love me"
"Yes, Lord, you know I love you."
"Feed my sheep"
Peter used different meanings to the word love. Yet the Lord restored him fully and forgave him completely. And Peter went on to feed we sheep. I love the Lord and pray whatever meaning within my heart I understand love to be will be found worthy enough to Him to receive, "well done, My good and faithful servant." God bless you Gunny. I found you via your comment on Foundes. selahV

At 03 December, 2006 11:38, Anonymous selahV said...

Gunny, how do you get that wonderful little cross filling the gap between man and God to show up in your site. I LOVE it. selahV

At 04 December, 2006 14:46, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks for stopping by, SelahV!

Amen, I love that John 21 dialog. What a way to close out the book.

I'd be interested in your feedback and perspective regarding some of my other posts as well and look forward to your further comments.

I'll be sure to return the favor and check out your scene as well.


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