Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Away from Law, Into Love

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is providing a description of what life looks like for the person who will follow Him. Since the average Jewish person listening to Jesus attempted to allow their life to be guided by the Mosaic Law and Jewish tradition, Jesus frequently compares and contrasts His way of life with the way of life that comes from following the Law. When we approach the Sermon on the Mount with this in mind, we see that Jesus calls people away from actions of legalistic obedience to a set of laws and toward attitudes of love for all people.

The Sermon on the Mount is a call to love. It focuses on attitude, rather than activity. Following Jesus is not about going through the motions but about living in love that comes from the heart. Jesus is not adding to the law, but is showing that love is the fulfillment of the law. He shows, for example, that while the law says “Do not murder” and “Do not commit adultery,” such laws still allowed people to hate their brother or lust after women (Matt 5:21-30). In this way, it was possible to fulfill the letter of the law while completely ignoring its intent. But the person guided by love will neither hate nor lust, which fulfills both the letter and intent of the law. Jesus even goes so far as to call His followers to love their enemies (Matt 5:43-48), which is the ultimate representation of love and which no law could ever accomplish. The rest of the Sermon follows this same theme.

J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 98-99

Redeeming Love

Friday, August 16th, 2019

The idea of a God who redeems Israel and who therefore can be called the Redeemer became firmly fixed in Israel’s religious imagination well before the disastrous exile in Babylon. In the dynamic way that language works, the technical meaning of redeem broadened out over time to include connotations of God’s helping, rescuing, liberating, restoring, forgiving, showing steadfast love, comforting, taking away fear, and especially caring for the poor and defenseless. The language of redeeming also became associated with the act of saving. While in the same general family of meaning, the latter carries a distinct sense of healing from sickness and restoring to health, the opposite of which is perishing.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 45

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 4, 2019

A Strong Aspiration

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

If you have a deep aspiration, a goal for your life, then your loving of others is part of this aspiration and not a distraction from it. If you and your partner both want to do things to relieve the suffering in this world, then your love for each other is connected to your love for others, and it expands exponentially to cover the whole world.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 74

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 31, 2019

The Fulfillment of the Law

Friday, July 26th, 2019

One interesting note about Jesus’ fulfillment of the law is that there is no recorded instruction from Jesus to His own disciples for them to obey and follow the Law of Moses. Why not? Because He was modelling love, which is God’s ultimate goal and purpose for our lives anyway. Where there is love, law becomes unnecessary. Loving God and loving others naturally leads to the fulfillment of the law (Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27). If loving God and loving others is the fulfillment of the law, then the law is “followed” simply by loving God and loving others. If we are guided by love, then we do not need the law to guide us, because love guides us to do the things commanded by the law.

Jesus, through His life and ministry, revealed what it looks like to live according to love. In so doing, He not only fulfilled the spirit and purpose of the law, but also did away with it in the sense that He showed that where there is love, law is not needed. Of course, where there is no love, the law is still better than nothing as a way to guide people into proper behavior. This is why Jesus said He did not come to destroy or abolish the law. He knew that love takes time to grow and spread, and that not everyone will live in love toward everyone else. Therefore law, as defective as it is, still guides human behavior when there is no love. This was not only true of the Mosaic Law for the Israelite people, but it is also true for the laws of any country or community today. The reason nations, businesses, and families have laws today is because love is not fully formed among us.

So what is clear from the rest of Scripture, as well as from Jesus’ own words, is that love is the fulfillment of the law. Most Christians would agree that the law is accomplished and fulfilled when we love God and love others (Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Tim 1:5; Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30-31). The way of love is the “more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31). When Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the law, this was best seen in the fact that love was the defining characteristic of Jesus. Since love is the fulfillment of the law, and since Jesus loved God and loved everyone perfectly, he therefore fulfilled the law. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:17. The rest of the Sermon on the Mount provides numerous examples of how love fulfills the law.

— J. D. Myers, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, p. 97-98

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 26, 2019

Capacity to Love

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Recognizing that no one else can complete us actually enhances our capacity to love and receive the love of others.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 293

Photo:  Barefoot Park, Germany, July 2003

Righteous Anger

Friday, July 12th, 2019

The real issue, though, is how to understand divine anger in the context of overwhelming graciousness and mercy. The danger is that within a patriarchal, punitive setting, speaking of a wrathful God has been used to justify holy wars and torture, hostility to outsiders, and debilitating guilt in sensitive consciences. But righteous anger is a different breed of cat. It is profoundly ethical. It waxes hot in moral outrage because something good is being violated. Arising from love, it awakens energy to act to change the situation. Editing a powerful book of photographs of African American women, Barbara Summers was struck by the creative power of anger of even the most accomplished of these women: “A truly beautifying discovery for me was to find so much love in anger. It was a fist-up, death-defying love that challenged the unfair conditions of life and muscled in on injustice as it nursed both sides of a nation.” This is not anger with the spirit of murder in it, but fury that is creative of life. Much feminist in-depth analysis, such as Beverly Harrison’s influential essay “The Power of Anger in the Work of Love,” makes clear that far from being the opposite of love, righteous anger is a vivid, moral form of caring that empowers transformation.

In the context of God’s graciousness and mercy, divine anger functions for justice. It bespeaks a mode of caring response in the face of what harms beloved human beings or the created world itself. “The exploitation of the poor is to us a misdemeanor; to God it is a disaster,” writes Abraham Heschel. Divine wrath is a worthy response. True, it lasts but a moment; true, it is instrumental, aimed at change and conversion. But it stands as an antidote to sentimentality.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 39-40

Photo: Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, July 3, 2017

Who Is In?

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget — that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 186

Photo: Prague, July 16, 2004

Err on the Side of Loving People

Friday, July 5th, 2019

I learned a long time ago that the most God-honoring, most Jesus-reflecting act is to err on the side of loving people. When you simply accept those around you in whatever condition they come to you, the table naturally expands and relationship happens and God does stuff that you couldn’t predict or control.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 43

Photo: Staffa Island, Scotland, July 13, 2003

We Come in Love

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

We come in love. I would submit that the teaching of Jesus to love God and love our neighbor is at the core and the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And we must be people who reclaim Christianity from its popular modality, from the way it is often perceived and presented, to a way of Christianity that looks something like Jesus. And Jesus said, Love God and love your neighbor, so we come in love.

That is the core of our faith. That is the heart of it. And we come, because we are Christian and the way of love calls for us to be humanitarian. It calls for us to care for those who have no one to care for them.

— Michael Curry, The Power of Love, p. 60-61

Photo: Above Spittal an der Drau, Austria, July 29, 1998

Pride

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Often, our pride stands in the way of our asking for help. In true love there is no place for pride. To love each other means to trust each other. If you don’t tell the person you love of your suffering, it means you don’t love this person enough to trust her. You have to realize that this person is the best person to help you. We need to be able to get help from the person we love.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 54

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 20, 2017