Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Lesson in LOVE


"How do you know?"
"I just know"
"You mean you think you know?"
"No. I know things"
"Alright, genius,what else do you think you know?"
I remember having a conversation of the sort with my big sister a very long time ago. I was either the one teasing or the one being teased on that faithful day as we had one of our many playful carefree conversations. Since then, "I know things" suddenly became the phrase we'd use to justify a theory (scientific or not) we couldn't backup with any sort of proof other words, a theory we'd made up.

I like to pretend I know things. I like to show off some wisdom once in a while. I like being asked a question and appearing to have something smart to say. But the demanding question I often hear is "what do you think you know?". Hardly the question you ask someone with the answer, is it? It's a question I hear sometimes after reading the Bible, after speaking to someone, after an experience or even after reading a book...a story birthed from the imagination of another human being. The latter was the most recent source of the question which tugged at my heart as if God was tapping me on the shoulder asking "Beloved, what do you think you know about love?".

I smiled at the question, as I thought about all the verses I knew and what I'd learned over the past two decades. I love people. I can't help but care. I try to reach out. I try to pray for others. Love was something I mastered. Surely, I was an honor student in this particular class that I could only ace. But after the Holy Spirit asked the question again while opening my eyes, I soon realized the subject of love was more a class I was flunking...badly.
After warning about the fast-approaching end of the world, Peter wrote:
"And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NKJV).

This is scripture I was familiar with. But the Holy Spirit suddenly pointed out the word "fervent". Other versions read "deeply" or "steadily and unselfishly".

Fervent means: having or displaying a passionate intensity. Showing great zeal.
We might love, but do we love fervently? Or deeply? Those words make all the difference.

Peter continued by stating "Use whatever gift you've received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God's grace in all its varieties" (1 Peter 4:10 The Voice).

Loving fervently doesn't only consist of the emotional factor of "loving" but also the practical aspect called "serving". The act of using our gifts for the good and benefit of others.
And of course, at the center of it all, Jesus' very own words "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

Everyone is capable of love. Unbelievers love. You don't have to be Christian. But Jesus said "love" was that special thing that would distinguish us from the rest of the world. This requires a whole new level of love, an extraordinary type of love. Not the "love" the world knows. I believe it requires that fervent selfless love that serves God by serving others. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was the very image of love the world had never seen before. It was a fervent love. It was a selfless love. It was love that gave itself up so that we may be set free. As we imitate Christ, we work towards attaining a love so perfect.

God is love. Being made in the image of God, we are called to love. And everyday I am convinced that this world needs love. Being Jesus' arms and feet on this earth will put our ability to love like He loved to the test...everyday that ability to love is being tested. Knowing scripture is important. Following every rule in the book is important. Being a good person is important. Happiness and health are important. BUT without the kind of love God requires from His disciples, we are nothing.
Paul prays this way for the Ephesians:
"I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19 NCV).
That also is my prayer for you and for myself.
Our time here is brief. Our Christian experience on earth, fleeting. It's time to love, and love fervently, no matter the circumstances. The absence of such a love makes everything else pointless. Even the greatest things we accomplish in Christ's name. 
I don't know about you, but the subject of love is one I don't want to flunk. So, I'll be a good student,  put aside what I think I know and furiously take notes as the Lord teaches me what I ought to know.
I love you with the love of Christ :)

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