Sunday, May 2, 2010

Love

Our paster is expounding on 1 John. In the nearly four years I've attended this church, I've yet to hear him finish a sermon outline, so I have no idea how long this will take. The concept of chiros at its best. I think I spelled that right. In Greek, you have chronos, the kind of time measured by a watch, and chiros, fulfillment time or when it's ready time. The pastor will be done when he's done and maybe not then.

This is part of a series on how you know you're saved. Remember: John was one of the 12 disciples, and one of the 3 often found with Jesus during the big stuff. He wrote the book of John as well as I and II John.

I John 5:1 says "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him." My pastor's first point is you know you're saved when you love Jesus.

Interesting question for me. I don't know if other people are put together like me, but there is very little I would say I love. (I could include food, but I'm trying for a more serious tone).

I should probably define love before I continue. So many definitions, after all. I believe the pastor is using it as a sense of affection and duty that encompasses your entire being. The old "love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength" from Deuteronomy. The Hebrew shema (that's for you, Mr. Isom!).

In this sense, I love my critters, too much, probably. I sometimes wonder if they are my stumbling block. God and I had a falling out over one of them several years ago. He's since resolved it - I certainly couldn't have - but my attachment to them may not be a good thing. I cannot stop it, and I wouldn't want to be the kind of person who doesn't feel that way about her animals, so I guess I'm stuck.

Using this definition, I love my family, and using this definition, family is a tightly defined word that includes my immediate biological family and a very few extremely close friends. I may be fond of others. I may go out of my way to treat them well, but that is a dutiful love, done because it is right, not out of any particular sense of good will on my part. This admission of want of feeling may make me a horrible person, but there it is. If I'm going to bring it up, I'm going to be honest about it. Perhaps others out there function the same way.

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote an interesting book called The Five Love Languages. I purchased it as a wedding gift and read it before I gave it (it's always a good idea to read a book before you give it to someone). My love language is quality time. I feel loved when someone shows interest in me, and I express love by spending my time with someone else. It's very simple. If I take the time to be with you, I love you. There is no other reason for someone as self-centered as I am to spend time with another person.

All of those with whom I spend time may now be assured of your place in my affections. For the rest, well, I'm not nearly as wonderful as I think I am, so don't worry about it too much. And if it does worry you, just give me an Oreo and tell me how great I am. I'm obviously fickle.

So, do I love Jesus? I practice a dutiful love toward Him. I know what He requires and I try to do it. But I don't always feel love toward Him. In fact, I rarely feel it. I suspect it's because I can't sit face-to-face with Him and talk. I can read His book, but it's not the same. I can pray to Him, but often that feels like talking to the ceiling or, worse, myself. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God within me, and He's supposed to comfort me and answer me, but, again, it's not the same.

So I must admit, I don't love Jesus the way I love the physical people in my life.

Let me pause to point out, Jesus is physical. He is alive in heaven and occupying the first physical, resurrected body, so I could touch Him if He chose to let me (Thomas did). But He remains in heaven until the Second Coming, so I must muddle through for now with a concept instead of a construct. That's scriptural, too, though. Paul says our faith remains in the unseen, because what is seen is not faith. Jesus Himself blessed those who would believe without seeing Him.

I suspect once again, praise is the key. "He inhabits the praise of His people." Perhaps I would feel more love if I spent more time thinking on why He's worthy of love. Perhaps I would feel more love if I spent more time getting to know Him through the resources He's given me: the Bible, the Holy Spirit and other Christ-followers.

I have no excuse for not loving Jesus. He's certainly shown a great deal of interest in me. That should appeal directly to my fickle nature. "The fault is mine and so must the remedy be."

Forgive me, Jesus, for not loving You as much as You deserve, and help me daily to love You more. Amen.

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