How to Love

Friday, September 5, 2014

Years ago, I attended an urban church as a visitor, and after the service, a woman came up and welcomed me. After expressing appreciation for her warm welcome, she said something like, "You may have noticed that we do not dress up very 'fancy' around here. You don't have to wear a suit here at this church." I smiled and thanked her for her concern for my comfort and added, "Well, I guess you can say that I'm 'old school'. I have always worn suits to church." Then the conversation began to change. The smiles stayed but she continued until I got the message that if I was ever again to step foot in that church, do so sans suit and tie. I left with a different smile on my face, one that imagined that her mantra of thirty or so years ago that was "You don't have to dress up to come to church" (which is true) had "evolved" to "You shall NOT dress up to come to church."

We humans have inherited the devil's selfish desire to be "like God, knowing 'good' from 'evil'", yet we humans make lousy gods. Eve and Adam threw away a lifetime of true love for the desire to have things their way. The woman in that church was doing what we all do: preferring others to mirror our images and desires--in effect, "be like God". But our nature is missing the penultimate treasure of all: love. And that is a truth that must be forefront in our basic understanding of knowing what and who we are and not forgotten. It can be summed up on one sentence:

We do not know how to love.

That reality comes out in our primitive behaviors, such as denying love to others who do not agree with us, punishing those who do not do our will, assuming that our biases are truth norms and expectations to which others should adhere. We practice avoidance, engage in theoretical tribalism, and become staid, self-insistent Archie Bunkers, falsely representing the Kingdom of God.

Yet God has the diagnosis and the cure. Through His servant Paul, the problem is diagnosed. From Romans 14:4, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. From 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child; I thought like a child; I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

And the cure also is from the pen of Paul, servant of Christ, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."(Romans 13:8) And again from 1 Corinthians (13:4-7) "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

That's just how God loves, like through the costly, primitive death of His Son Jesus Christ. All for underserving us. Gloria Deo--Glory to God

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