Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Otherness of Love

In my pastoral work of counseling there are many common themes, but I think the number one theme is about the subject of love.  I profess that I am like the old Conway Twitty song, "I Don't Know a Thing About Love."  But I do have a friend who knows a lot about love.  His name is Jesus and His friend, the Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus' servant named Paul.  Paul wrote this down in 1 Corinthians 13, commonly known as the love chapter of Scripture.  So I will rely on Paul's wisdom, learned through the Holy Spirit.

In the 1st three verses of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes ... "If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing."  Two words are repeated three times ... Love and Others. Why?

Here's what I think.  Biblical love is inexorably connected to others.  The greatest commandment is about loving God with all we have and others as ourselves. 1 John 4:8 says that if you do not love you cannot know God.  And Paul says, if we don't love others we are just noise ... gaining and being nothing.

So ... all those people come to counseling and want to talk about love and what they are not getting, what they are not feeling and how they are not being fulfilled.  And I know that love is hard (Paul tells us that later in the chapter).  But what I want to shout to the world here is that love isn't ever about what we get from others ... it is about what we give to others.  Yes ... give love to those schmucks who aren't behaving like we want them to.  Yes ... give love to those people who are undeserving.  Yes ... give love to those who seem to resist changes we know they need to make.  Yes ... give love to those who are different than us.  Because love is all about others.

Many of you say, "Pastor ... you are crazy!  You have gone too far here.  Surely God would not want us to love that way?"  John 15:12 ... "Love each other the way that I have loved you."  Because in relation to God I am the misbehaving schmuck ... I am the one who is undeserving ... I am the one reluctant to change ... I am the "different" one (some of you say, "That is an understatement!).  Yet, God chose to love me anyway.  THAT is amazing grace!  That is the reason I must respond (if I love God) with praise, gratitude, service and witness as I tell others about this amazing gift God has given me ...and you.

I think Jesus would tell to do two things.  Look at how He loved.  Go, thou, and do likewise! Randy

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