Love Reasoning

It seems that I lately I am dealing with more and more with divorce than ever before.  In each case, there are real issues and if patience, forgiveness, reconciliation were to rule, the issues can be worked through and resolved, but I really believe that there is a level of pride in each case that keeps one of the people in these marriages from resolving issues and remaining husband and wife.

In nearly every case that I have ever dealt with as a pastor or as a friend, they claim that they love each other.  But love is not leading their hearts and minds, but emotions are ruling (love is emotional but not an emotion).  Their feelings are blinding love reasoning.  Let me explain.

Dictionary.com defines love mostly as affection, emotion, even sexual fulfillment ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love ).  It’s all about a feeling guided by emotion.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes the same sort of definitions as Dictionary.com, but has a broader definition that comes closer to the Bible’s teaching and definition of love.

4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person’s adoration of God ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love ).

A Biblically accurate definition of love is “sacrifice.” 

Love is not an emotion as I’ve said before.  Love has emotional responses of hurt and anger and affection and joy and passion and many things that the dictionaries define as love.  They’re defining the emotional response.  See love is a choice.  It is something that grows.  Several young people who I have taught and counseled feel that they don’t have a choice in love.  They may be drawn to another person because of their looks, the way they respond to them or any other number of things, but they can’t help but love them because that is love.  Love is a choice and love is sacrifice.

Who better to define love than God.  John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16).  And God’s definition of love is this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down their life for their friends” John 15:13, see also 1 John 3:16 (my paraphrase).

What is the ultimate sacrifice?  Dying for someone else.  We see it with soldiers fighting to protect family and country.  We see if with people who save a drowning person but die in the process, or someone who pushes a person out-of-the-way of a speeding vehicle and are run down and killed by the same vehicle.  We see it in Jesus dying on the cross.  God’s love in the death of Jesus Christ the only unique Son of God.

The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them” (John 15:13, Contemporary English Version).

The cure for troubled marriages is to make love like God’s love.  To sacrifice self, my wants, my emotions, my will to the other which will lead to forgiveness, to change, to reconciliation.

Love looks out for the total well-being of the other.  It is not self-seeking, which is what is happening in each of the failing marriages that I mentioned above.

Church issues, friendship issues, any separation or break-down in relationships will be cured by Godly, Biblically defined love.  See how the definition of selflessness and self-sacrifice is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   8Love never fails.

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Is Your Fellowship With God?

There are so many ways to God offered in our world and no one seems to know how to get to God.

It’s like we live in a desert and there are no roads, no paths, nothing to follow, not even footprints because the winds erase them almost as quickly as they are made.  We know there is water out there somewhere, but which direction and how far to the oasis? We haven’t a clue.

But, the Christian can know that they have gone the right direction, that they have drunk of the water of life. John tells all about it.

First John is a letter to Christians about our fellowship. Fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ which motivates fellowship with one another.

Maybe the thing that prompted John to write this first letter was the false teaching that one had to come into a sort of special kind of knowledge to know God. It is a form of belief that says Jesus was not really God. That God wouldn’t  become human. The best that there might be is that Jesus was a man and the Christ part of him came on him at his baptism when the Spirit descended like a dove on him at his baptism by John and left when he was on the cross at the moment when Jesus cried “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

But John notes that he and the other apostles heard, saw, and touched Jesus.  That he was from the beginning (cf. John 1:1).

“1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John 1:1-4

We were with him and we can account for the fact that he was God in the flesh and so we have fellowship with God because of him. That is John’s testimony.

But what is and what is not real fellowship with God?

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 1:5-2:6

There’s some stuff here that tell us we have fellowship with God

1. If we walk in the light as God is in the light we have fellowship with God.

2. Christ’s blood purifies/cleanses us from our unrighteousness which brings us into fellowship with God.

3. If we obey his commandments we are fellowshipping with God.

4. God’s love is made perfect in us because of our fellowship with God.

There is no special knowledge one must have beyond what God has given us in the Bible.  We do not have to be “in the know” with anything more, have a special experience, or any other thing.  Are we like God in the light of holiness and love?  Are we obeying what God and Christ has commanded us?  Are we loving as Christ loves? Are we cleansed from sin in Jesus Christ?

Then we have fellowship with God. Speaking in tongues, existential hyper-religious experiences, any number of things that some people claim are not needed or necessary to know we have fellowship with God, just what John says in the verses quoted above.

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