The Power of Love (Part II)

On my last post, I submitted to you a blog entry from Donald Miller (found here).  As I sit here contemplating how to document my thoughts about the article, I have to admit that it feels awkward — I’m not sure how to post a blog about “Love”.  There are far, far too many nuances and complexities about “Love” to even begin to scratch the surface.  Still, there must be something we can learn… ways we can grow… must be some way we can draw on an experience we can share.  So, I hope you can take it to heart that I’m not trying to boil down love to a simple formula or idea or even a simple “Hug”.  What I want… what I hope to do… is to encourage you onward.

As for my response to Miller’s blog-entry… I feel compelled to first clarify a couple of things: First — I do not love perfectly. I’m not saying I’m the expert here. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be regarding even the simplest expressions of LOVE (see 1 Cor 13 for a complete list). Secondly, I’m not trying to advocate Hindi theology here. I believe that as followers of Jesus we should make our best effort to yoke ourselves to sound doctrine (i.e., doctrine, meaning our views shaped by the bible which form our basis for beliefs and action) and to strive to follow what is good (Phil 4:8).

With all that said… LOVE must always win.

To love isn’t always as easy as it sounds. I lived for many years as a Christ believer thinking “right” was more important than Love. It was a false faith, built on duty and expectation and will-power and self-depracation and pride. Sadly, it is easy to “believe” and yet not love… easy to say the right things, think the right things, act out the right things, but not love.  But, I’ve learned this… you cannot “follow” (cannot be a Christ “follower”) and not love.  To follow means we must love. Not “Must!” as if to say you must prove yourself by performing the action of love. No, I mean follow as in transformed — transformed lives will love.  Lives that have experienced grace and mercy will love.

I want to believe and follow Jesus’ words… “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)  I believe at its core… at its extremities… at its best… at its worst… at its easiest… at its hardest… LOVE is the point.  And, until I learn this, very little else really matters.

MY 30 day CHALLENGE:
So here’s my challenge to you — Love.  For the next 30 days, read 1 Corinthians 13, every day.  Allow the true, practical definition of Love to have its affect on you.  But here’s the catch — don’t read it as a list of things to “DO”… read it as a list of things that flow from you.  And, when you see an aspect of love that is missing from your life, don’t say, “I need to do that!” Instead, ask God… with a question like, “Jesus, _____ isn’t part of my experience.  Its not how I respond/react to life/others. Why is that? What’s going on in my heart and in my life that is keeping you from showing up in ______ in my life?”  And, when He answers, respond.  He offers healing. He offers understanding. He offers forgiveness. He offers second chances. And as you respond to him, then let’s see how the expressions of love begin to flow.

I’m going to take this challenge, too.  I hope you’ll leave a COMMENT with what you find happening in your life.

Knowing it is possible in Jesus,

Mark


1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

(Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002, 21 Oct. 2008 http://www.biblegateway.com)

4 thoughts on “The Power of Love (Part II)

  1. Mark,
    I accept your challenge! Starting today, August 10, 2010, I’m going to read 1 Corinthians 13 every day. Already after the first time through, I can see lots of ways that God may speak to me. By writing this down, I’m pledging to be accountable for my commitment!
    I think I also live by the philosophy that “right” is better than love. . . all I can ask is that Jesus CHANGES my heart so that I LOVE more. It sure doesn’t come easily or naturally from sinful old me.
    Thanks for your thoughtful words! I’m always glad to be notified that there’s a new post on your blog.
    Leah

    1. Hi Leah,

      Awesome! I can’t wait to hear how it goes. I hope you’ll post back.

      I’m on Day 3. Like you, I can already see areas in my life that are… shall I say… lacking. Still… I’m impressed by three things as I do this:

      1) I’m sobered by Paul’s language — I guess I’ve never seen it before… how easy it is to do all the right Christian things (speak well, minister with power, understand mysteries, give sacrificially, and even have faith) but not have love.

      2) What a change for me (as a recovering perfectionist) to take my gaps and longings to Jesus. In the past I would have thought, “I need to try harder…!” So, what a contrast, as I now let Jesus into the places that keep me from experiencing and giving the love.

      3) If I’m not giving it… I’m probably not experiencing it in my own life. Wow… this changes how I need to direct my prayers.

      Looking forward to all He’ll do through this.

      Mark

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