Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
Love's the Thing (2)
by Erik Momsen
WHAT IS LOVE?
Our understanding of life and love is largely determined by what we have experienced and been taught. We live in a media-saturated world that has a greater effect on us than any of us realize. Our ideas about love become badly distorted. We mostly think of love as an emotion and this is partly true, but love requires, yes demands, response from body, mind and spirit.
We are told by psychologists and sociologists that our attraction to other people is nearly always firstly physical, of the body or of the senses. She looks good, smells good or sounds good (lets hope taste and feel do not come into it at this stage).
After this, the mind (we hope it is a sound one) comes into play. We ask questions like, "Is she my type?" referring to personality, culture, education and history.
Sadly we very often forget to ask questions of the spirit. Questions like, "What spirit does she have and which spirit is living in her?"
We have spoken about love between two people, but what about the way we relate to the world and God? This is also governed by the big question, "What is love?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)
- The issue of how I love covers God and man simultaneously.
- I do not love God without loving man, and I cannot love man without loving God.
Whereas romantic love starts with a physical attraction, our love for God and the world is governed firstly by spiritual principles but must result in a physical act of love. The spiritual principles of God are powerfully illustrated especially in the words, life and death of Jesus.
LOVE IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
- Love your enemies that you may be like your Father.
- Love transcends attractions, affinities, likes and dislikes and even pain.
- Love is a commandment that stands the world upside down.
- Love is a sign and proof of God's perfection growing in us.
WE MUST RATHER BE LOVING THAN RIGHT
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)
- Paul establishes the foundation for Biblical ethics.
- In practice we fulfill all that God wants of us by loving.
- Love can do no harm. It is amazing that the Hippocratic oath starts with, "Do no harm".
PRACTICAL LOVE AND JUSTICE IS PURITY
"Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." (Luke 11:39-42)
- Purity is not only about action but attitude of the heart.
- It is amazing that Jesus is saying our acts of love to the poor result in inner purity. Eugene Peterson translates v.41 as follows: "Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands." (Luke 11:41 - MSG)
- "Justice and the love of God" = love of the poor and love of God.
- Biblical love meets the needs of the poor, broken and oppressed.
LOVE, IN THE END, IS COMPLETE SACRIFICE
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
- Jesus was referring to his own sacrifice but also establishing for us the ultimate nature of love i.e. self sacrifice.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I defeat an enemy when I make him my friend". The power of Biblical love has been working in the world for thousands of year and is our weapon against all the sin and suffering that we have brought upon ourselves.
Date Added: 2011-05-31
Go to Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen