Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Path to Peace

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Forgiveness can also be bittersweet. It contains the sweetness of the release of a story that has caused us pain, but also the poignant reminder that even our dearest relationships change over the course of a lifetime. Regardless of the decision we reach about whether or not to include someone in our present-day life, in the end, forgiveness is a path to peace and an essential element of love for ourselves and others.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 199

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 4, 2018

Out of Our Own Way

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Love allows us to get out of our own way. It allows us to transcend this fear and these calcified ways of reacting. Love allows us to receive freely. Love raises us above the worries and cares and creates the responsiveness that brings contact and joy.

Today, go out there and love. Get out of your own way. Love everyone you meet, and let the love that wants to come to you from God through others reach you.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 381

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 30, 2018

Changing Course

Monday, November 26th, 2018

There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love. Ruskin’s comment that you can get someone to remove his coat more surely with a warm, gentle sun than with a cold, blistering wind is particularly apt. Meeting the world with a loving heart will determine what we find there. We mistakenly place our trust, too often, in the righteousness of our wind, though we rarely get evidence that this ever transforms anything.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 124

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, September 21, 2014

Liking Yourself More

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

As we have explained, you can feel connected whenever you want, simply by choosing to feel connected. You can even do it in your head, if your partner is unavailable. You can do it when you’re irritated with your partner just as easily as when you’re enraptured with him or her — if you truly want to. And why would you want to if he’s acting like a jerk or she’s being a nag? Well, for one thing, he’s less likely to act like a jerk if he feels connected to you, and she’s less likely to nag if she knows that you care about her feelings. But the more important reason is that you like yourself more when you feel connected to people you love than when you don’t. You like yourself more when you are nice to your partner than when you’re not. You like yourself more when you are true to the most important things about you than when you are not.

One of the most destructive phrases to emerge from modern therapy and self-help books is “getting your needs met” or its variation “What about me?” These little words, and the self-centered attitudes they represent, have done more to promote entitlement and resentment and less to nurture love, compassion, and connection than just about anything that has passed for relationship advice. They fly in the face of a known law of human interaction: You must give what you expect to get. If you want compassion, you have to be compassionate; if you want love, you have to be loving; if you want cooperation, you have to be cooperative; if you want appreciation, you have to be appreciative day by day.

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 210-211

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, December 26, 2014

No Payment in Forgiveness

Monday, November 19th, 2018

God is not beholden to retributive justice. We are the ones who demand sacrificial victims, not God. We are the ones who insist upon a brutal logic that says God can’t just forgive. We are the ones who mindlessly say, “God can’t forgive; he has to satisfy justice.” But this is ridiculous. It’s a projection of our own pettiness upon the grandeur of God. Of course God can forgive! That’s what forgiveness is! Forgiveness is not receiving payment for a debt; forgiveness is the gracious cancellation of a debt. There is no payment in forgiveness. Forgiveness is grace. God’s justice is not reprisal. The justice of God is not an abstract concept where somehow sin can only be forgiven if an innocent victim suffers a severe enough penalty. In the final analysis punitive justice is not justice at all; it’s merely retribution. The only justice God will accept as justice is actually setting the world right! Justice is not the punishment of a surrogate whipping boy. That’s injustice!

In the parable of the prodigal son, the father doesn’t rush to the servants’ quarters to beat a whipping boy and vent his anger before he can forgive his son. Yet Calvin’s theory of the cross would require this ugly insertion into Jesus’s most beautiful parable. No, in the story of the prodigal son, the father bears the loss and forgives his son from his treasury of inexhaustible love. He just forgives. There is no payment. Justice as punishment is what the older brother called justice. The only wrath we find in the parable belongs to the Pharisee-like older brother, not the God-like father. Justice as the restoration of relationship is what the father called justice.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 102-103

Photo: SchloƟ Heidelberg, Germany, December 1996

Inexorable Love

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

A few words of earnest caution must be added here. I trust it has been made plain in these pages that in teaching universal salvation I have not for a moment made light of sin, or advocated the salvation of sinners while they continue such. I earnestly assert the certain punishment of sin (awful it may well be, in its duration and its nature for the hardened offender), but in all cases directed by love and justice to the final extirpation of evil. Nay, I have opposed the popular creed on this very ground, that it in fact teaches men to make light of sin, and that in two ways: first, because it sets forth a scheme of retribution so unjust as to make men secretly believe its penalties will never be inflicted; and second, because it in fact asserts that God either will not, or cannot, overcome and destroy evil and sin, but will bear with them for ever and ever.

I repeat that not one word has been written in these pages tending to represent God as a merely good-natured Being, who regards as a light matter the violation of his holy law. Such shallow theology, God forbid that I should teach. Infinite love is one thing; Infinite Good-nature a totally unlike thing. Love is never feeble, it is (while most tender) most inexorable. In the light of Calvary it is that we are bound to see the guilt of sin. But let us beware, lest, as we stand in thought by the cross, we virtually dishonour the atonement by limiting its power to save — by teaching men that Christ is after all vanquished; lest, while in words professing to honour Christ, we, in fact, make him a liar, for he has never said, “if I be lifted up, I will draw some men,” or even “most men,” but “I will draw all men to me.”

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 268

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 7, 2018

Winning the Kingdom Without War

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Finally, the last thing I know is this: If the God of the Bible is true, and if God became flesh and blood in the person of Jesus Christ, and if Jesus Christ is — as theologian Greg Boyd put it — “the revelation that culminates and supersedes all others,” then God would rather die by violence than commit it. The cross makes this plain. On the cross, Christ not only bore the brunt of human cruelty and bloodlust and fear, he remained faithful to the nonviolence he taught and modeled throughout his ministry. Boyd called it “the Crucifixion of the Warrior God,” and in a two-volume work by that name asserted that “on the cross, the diabolic violent warrior god we have all-too-frequently pledged allegiance to has been forever repudiated.” On the cross, Jesus chose to align himself with victims of suffering rather than the inflictors of it.

At the heart of the doctrine of the incarnation is the stunning claim that Jesus is what God is like. “No one has ever seen God,” declared John in his gospel, “but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18, emphasis added). The New American Standard Bible says, “The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (emphasis added). So to whatever extent God owes us an explanation for the Bible’s war stories, Jesus is that explanation. And Christ the King won his kingdom without war.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 76-77

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 4, 2018

Approach Mode

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Fortunately, approach modes that include attempts to understand and appreciate are almost as contagious to our partners as avoid and attack modes. In other words, if you are interested in your partner, he or she is likely to become interested in you. But if you dismiss, avoid, or devalue, what do you think will be the likely response?

— Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 173

Photo: Gundersweiler, Germany, October 2000

Entirely Human

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Among the many problems of Calvin’s theory of the cross is that it turns God into a petty tyrant and a moral monster. Punishing the innocent in order to forgive the guilty is monstrous logic, atrocious theology, and a gross distortion of the idea of justice. This debate, billed as “The Monster God Debate,” was recorded and eventually viewed tens of thousands of times online. Over the next year I received hundreds of correspondences from people around the world relieved to learn that Good Friday was not the day when God killed his Son. What Jesus did on the cross is far more mysterious and beautiful than simply offering himself as a primitive ritual sacrifice. Ritual sacrifice may appease the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, but it has nothing to do with the Father of Jesus. The cross is a cataclysmic collision of violence and forgiveness. The violence part of the cross is entirely human. The forgiveness part of the cross is entirely divine. God’s nature is revealed in love, not in violence. The Roman cross was an instrument of imperial violence that Jesus transformed into a symbol of divine love.

In our scriptures and creeds, we confess that Christ died for our sins, but this does not mean we should interpret the cross according to an economic model where God had to gain the necessary capital to forgive sins through the vicious murder of his Son. How would this “pay off God” theory of the cross work anyway? Did God have some scale of torture that once met would extinguish his wrath? If God required the death of Jesus in order to forgive, did it have to be a violent death? Did it have to be by crucifixion? Did it have to involve the torture of the Roman scourging? Did God require a minimum number of lashes that Jesus had to endure? Was the crown of thorns necessary? Did God require a specific number of thorns to expiate his anger? And if you say, “No, that’s absurd! Some of the abuse Jesus suffered was gratuitous torture by the hands of cruel men,” well, please explain just how this division of labor works. How much of the torture of Jesus was necessary to satisfy God’s wrath, and how much was just for the sport of it?

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 101-102

Photo: Abbaye de Royaumont, France, November 7, 2005

Until He Finds Them

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

We have already examined, in the previous chapter, the possibility of postmortem conversion, which is usually featured, at least as a hope, in most versions of inclusivism. Although there are a handful of passages that can be interpreted as pointing in the direction of this possibility, the strongest argument in favor of this proposal rests on the character of God’s steadfast love who looks for lost sinners until he finds them (Luke 15). There is simply no compelling reason to assume that God’s posture towards someone changes at their death. There are also no explicit scriptural declarations that a person’s fate is definitively sealed at death. Often those who deny the possibility of postmortem conversion point to passages that affirm that human beings face judgment when they die (Heb 9:6; 1 Cor 5:10), but these passages do not spell out what judgment consists of and what is made possible by the judgment. These passages do not say that judgment leads to an eternally-dualistic outcome, but this assumption is often read into these texts. Supporters of the possibility of postmortem conversion will certainly agree with these scriptural affirmations that all people face divine judgment when they die, but they will also affirm that God’s judgment is designed to illicit repentance and foster reconciliation. Appeals to postmortem judgment, again, do not suffice to close the door on the possibility of postmortem salvation.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 123

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 30, 2018