Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Empathy

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Empathy says: You and I are made of the same lovely, heartbroken, and screwed-up stuff. You are not an object to me right now. (Maybe I’m not, either! Let me get back to you on this.) Empathy, a moment’s compassion, seeing that everyone has equal value, even people who have behaved badly, is as magnetic a force as gratitude. It draws people to us, thus giving us the capacity to practice receiving love, the scariest thing of all, and to experience the curiosity of a child.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 174

Photo:  Cascade in France, September 29, 1997

God’s Redeeming Care

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

The act of redeeming is motivated by divine mercy or compassion (rahamim). If we knew Hebrew, we would realize that compassion is a cognate of the word for womb (rehem). When the people of Israel heard, “With everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says YHWH your Redeemer” (Isa 54:8), they understood that the redeeming God was pouring out on them the kind of love a mother has for the child of her womb. In Phyllis Trible’s careful analysis, this journey of a metaphor from the wombs of women to the compassion of God is a powerful clue to the divine being, unfolding as it does unsuspected female dimensions of the image of God whose mercy is greater than we can imagine….

From its original financial meaning the verb “redeem” expanded and came to refer to rescue from physical, political, and spiritual bondage; from slavery, exile, and other kinds of oppression; from persecution, troubles, and enemies; from sin and from death. Individuals as well as the community as a whole were the beneficiaries of God’s redeeming care.

This rich tradition flows into Second Isaiah who used it to awaken hope of redemption in people being held captive, based on the endearing goel relationship between YHWH and Israel: “But now thus says YHWH who created you, O Jacob, who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (43:1).

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 45-46

Photo: Rhine River, Germany, March 12, 1997

All Are Worthy.

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Jesus feeds people. That’s what he does. And as striking as what he does is, equally revelatory is what he doesn’t do here. There’s no altar call, no spiritual gifts assessment, no membership class, no moral screening, no litmus test to verify everyone’s theology and to identify those worthy enough to earn a seat at the table. Their hunger and Jesus’ love for them alone, nothing else, make them worthy. This is a serious gut check for us.

John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 61-62

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 28, 2019

Immeasurable Minds

Monday, August 26th, 2019

Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are described as unlimited states of mind because they continue to grow and they cannot be measured. The more you practice, the more you see your love growing and growing until there is no limit. The more you practice compassion, the more it grows. The more you cultivate joy, the more joy you will feel and be able to share. The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 81

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 25, 2019

Reckless Love

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Reckless love is different. It pushes us to cross all sorts of boundaries to help us love as God loves and commands us to love. Getting people to take a risk and do the unexpected is the kind of thing Jesus had in mind as he guided his followers to encounter surprising places and people. He has probably done something similar in your life if you have followed him for even a short length of time. Whenever we walk with Jesus, we have experiences that transform us. He takes us out of our comfort zones. Without apology or warning, he expands us, makes us afraid of what might happen, and then shows us how love is properly done. He is not content with sedentary faith.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 11

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 17, 2019

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