Practical gospel – discussion one – love – God doesn’t do radio edits or remixes or deep something versions
Unfortunately we all have a problem understanding God’s love
Language vocabulary – Problem.
In tsotsital theres only one word for love. 🙂 Ok in english. The only word for love is love. Most of us speak English. Some of us think in English and have to translate into other langauges when we switch. Though we may be fluent in multiple languages. Your job is in English. Home affairs in in English. The nurses and doctors in english. Exams are in English. FIFA worldcup is in English. You get my point.
We over-use or in many cases under-understand this word. The Bible in English has this same dilemna when speaking of love and thus of God. In your mind, subconsciously you and I are being affected by the singularity of this one little 4 letter word that was meant to shape the universe and today means so much less than its original intention. Its lost its lustre. Gem stones by the way have a lustre. You know how when you hold a gem stone like a diamond if you’ve ever had the privilege or when you look at it from a certain angle. It takes simple light and turns it into a frantic frenzy of colour. A beautiful dances of hues and shades. It almost looks like light is moving around inside. It gives you the illusion for just a moment or the thought jumps into your imagination for just a moment that the gemstone might have an inner light of its own. Well about the gem you’d be wrong. But about love, when you truly experience Christ, you’d be right. That even just the concept, the gospel story, the Cross, the word – love, has a life of its own. And that aside from God proving Himself or answering a prayer or doing mircales for you, love, Love, in and of Himself, has a life on its own. Are you following what I’m trying to say. That the Holy Spirit when you read the Bible inhabits that 4 letter word everytime you come across it. That the word in itself is powerful when spelled like this Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Mercy……Jesus………God. Cause that’s how you really spell love. G. O. D.
But these days, a word, just like Jesus, which was meant to be so powerful, just saying to someone “I Love You” was supposed to rock their world and more so if God said to you “my child (which is so deep on its own) I….Love….You” these days….the word has lost its lustre.
Allow me to illustrate with some linguistics.
Greek has four:
Storge – Love of kin or family love. You can’t choose em. You’re stuck with em. But if you truly are close on any level, even against your will, you’ll do anything for them right? Storge
Phileo – Affectionate love or brotherly love. “He’s my boy!” or how some people call others “my love” they don’t mean “my lover” they are just saying to you deeply “you are close to my heart but we arent necessarily related”. Phileo. On a sports team, in a ministry group?, in a bunch of friends a crew a clique. You get the picture
Eros – Love between opposite sexes or sexual love. What people call chemistry. Fatal, sometimes, attraction. Hormones. “A connection”
Plato gave this word a dual meaning:
Vulgar Eros, meaning sexual love; and
Heavenly Eros, meaning love towards a god. According to Plato, this was the highest form of love: man seeking after god. Note however, in the greek mind remember their gods often displayed very human characteristics like jealousy, envy, vanity, promiscuity etc. So this wasn’t really a “purity seeking” form as the concept might imply.
Agape – Selfless love. Its noun form is uncommon in secular Greek of New Testament times. And today it is also uncommon in secular circles. Its not a word you commonly hear in convo. By contrast occassionally you’ll hear Eros in a conversation. Or erotic or erotica etc. Or filial this or filial ties or filial bonds etc. But agape. In its core meaning. Biblically. It means a self-detached love. A love that in and of itself almost has no personality! That’s how self-less it becomes. It looks or seeks inside going out from its priorities. Let me explain that. Basically. God had a right to destroy Adam in Eden. Love said to God – no I’ll save him. God said to love but no one can pay for what he’s done to the universe except someone that can cover the whole universe. Someone who owes no one anything is the only one who could save not just him or his race but save history and existence itself. The only person who can do that is someone who exists OUTSIDE any debt to anyone else at all. Or someone who owes no one anything. That’s life blessing nothhing. This person has to be so valueable that by their very sacrifice it has to have a permanently lasting eternal ripple effect. This persons sacrifice must be so expensive that basically it should far more than just equal to the value of the lives its saving so that no matter what human life does, they’re covered excessively. (For where sin abounds…grace does what…?)
That’s agape. Agape is the ability to weight the expesivness of your own value and count it as nothing compared to the needs of the other. Therefore it is self-detached. Self becomes loves slave. Love rules over self. To the point whereby self simply has no value by comparison. Self is actually not destroyed or ignored but becomes redefined. Again let me explain. Bible says, but for the prize that was set before, Jesus endured the cross.
For some what I’m about to say might border on blasphemous but if you follow Biblical logic you should arrive at the same conclusion.
When Jesus made humanity, mind you know what we were going to do, Jesus looked at himself. Defined himself or did a stock take or a personal inventory and said to himself I am not willing to BE God without humanity. I would rather DIE than to exist if it means losing Adam and his race. In other words, even though Jesus exists autonomously from his creation. He forever RE-defined himself jointly with his creation. He married us basically. And like a married couple. The definition of who Jesus was and is, will forever be coloured or RE-defined or intertwined with the definition of what it means to be human. To put it bluntly and maybe even radically for some…Jesus decided I wont be God if I can make Adam God-like. I refuse to be King if Adam isn’t going to be prince. I wont have a throne unless I have someone to share it with. Be my co-heir. I deserve dominion, but I refuse to keep it all to myself. I will dfine myself as the Christ. I was and am the Word. But now I am also the Christ. From now on, whenever you try to explain me, Jesus, Son of God, you cant explain me without including my very core definition with humanity. I’m not saying God made humans God. Neither am I saying God can’t exist without humanity. I’m saying God chose to RE-MAKE Himself by joining Himself to us permanently. So. He took privileges. Blessings. Inheritance. Previously the SOLE province of God and made US joined to Him in community of property the way husband and wife are. Whats mine is yours.
Now that is the deepest piece of revelation you will ever have. That it will one day sink that everything Jesus is today and has today. He offers for you right now. That He, being that expensive, when He died, He exachanged your life with His. Right now you’re breathing because of the Cross. You live because of His blood.
He gave up so much,….and this is the crazy love of God…gave up so much, but looked at the worth and value of human life and decided that ANY trade was worth the prize. US.
Can you see that massively unfair trade off? Is it sinking? That’s Agape. Capital “A”…it says to itself…NOTHING I have or nothing I AM is of any value in comparison to what YOU the receiver needs. YOU are more important than my needs wants or desires. You, the receiver come first ALWAYS, PERMANENTLY, WHOLE-HEARTEDLY, COMPREHENSIVELY and BEST-QUALITY-LY. Love doesn’t skimp or discount or half-price its blessings. It EMPTIES itself into the object of its affection. Agape LEAVES NOTHING LEFT BEHIND.
Human Problem. Our natural tendency is to project ideals of human love unto God. This reduces God’s love to a human level and, consequently, perverts the gospel.
See it is UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE for a human being to truly exhibit self-less self-detached totally spoiling-the-other-person they-come-first Agape. Agape is idiotic. It doesn’t know half-stepping. It doenst understand mediocre. It can’t comprehend lukewarm commitment. It is so powerful that it transforms the receiver EVERYTIME. It shatters obstacles. It destroys hopelessness. Love. True Agape love is so phenomenal its impossible not only to humany exhibit it naturally its so ALIEN to us that its virutally impossible to explain it. This email is such a poor attempt to explain it’s beautifully pathetic.
Ephesians 5 says a husband will gladly sacrifice himself for his wife. Jesus was quoted as saying “for scarely even for a righteous man would one die..greater love hath no man than he who lays down” See love will not only go the extra mile, love will actually finish the miles on the odometer on your car. Love will not only self-sacrifice it will BLESS.
Love will not allow swallow humiliation love will die un-necessarily, pathetically unfairly and depressingly even on a cross. “He healed others, if He is the son of God let Him heal Himself and come down off that cross.:. And while love is dying on that cross it’ll not even be thinking of the pain. It’ll be thinking of me and you and praying for our forgiveness.
So you say you love someone? Would you endure the cross for them….AND to make it worse…would you go there AND its the receivers fault that you Are there?! AND while you’re hanging there because of the receiver and for the receiver would you let yourself endure people gambling over your underwear and at anytime you had not only the power to come down or punish your executioners….but you actually have the power to re-write history with a thought. Just a word and the whole planet could be revamped. Earth make-over just like that.
Is there anybody in your life you’d be willing to go that far for? Be really deeply secretly honest.
Practical provoking thought….
Does your capacity to prioritize your loved ones needs over yours have limits? Moods? Your loved ones. Not strangers. But that person(s) for whom you say you’d do anything for…is your love for them consistent? Then you’re now looking at Agape straight in the face
Consolation and preemptive thoughts
I’m not saying your supposed to be the perfect lover. I am saying you need to compare yourself to the perfect example of Love. When you do that you have to come up short (righteous rags). I am further saying you need to NOT BE OK with you falling short. It should bother you that you can’t love like the sun. You can rely on it to rise everyday. Love is reliable all the time everytime. Agape is at least. So when you come up short…here is the consolation. Prayer. It shouldn’t depress you. It should create a need for God in you. SO when you DO fall short and you will. That longing or that desire or that need deep in you is like blowing your Vuvuzela at God to come into you. That is your hope. That’s right. That need. That gap between your character and Gods and the necessary wish that you could have a life with a smaller gap…that hunger for more or for better. That neediness for God…is your hope.
— inspired by E.H. Sequeira “The Love of God”