Thursday, March 31, 2011
New Command? Yeah right!
I haven't always cared as much about love as I do now. No, I'm not talking about romantic love, or family love, or even love of country. I'm talking about theological love - the love that is God, defines and describes God, and becomes the bench mark of our closeness to God. It was always easier to think of love as obedience or commitment - or even faithfulness, because those are, or can be, visible, measurable, and judgeable. And besides, it was always so hard to deal with love as "doctrine" or "church" because it just didn't "feel" right for "real men" to talk so much about love. I mean, love is for women and chic-flicks - right? Love is that goofy feeling you have when you're so star-struck over a girl you can't even talk straight - right? And then there was all that weird business about loving your enemies! What's that all about? I don't feel like loving my enemies - or the...poor... the unclean...the different... or even that weird-socially-inept-church-member, who just doesn't know how to fit in. And who needs love when religion is all about following established-correctly-interpreted-biblical-patterns. It's better to be right than to be loving - right? I even remember purchasing books on love - because I was "supposed" to have them - and I intentionally shelved them for a future time when I knew (even then) that I'd be more interested in the subject. (What was I preaching back then? Ouch!) Something happened - I mean other than aging! I finally figured God out. Oh He was clear - I was just muddy with doctinal correctness. No matter what I read, studied, preached, taught, or thought about, I kept coming back to the Genesis point that it is all about knowing God - and God is love. No one, from Adam to after-life, can know God without knowing love. The patriarchs were impatient, Israel was legalistic and forgetful, and Christians want to win the debate. We all have done a miserable job of understanding and developing the love of God. When Jesus called loving one another "a new command" in John 13:34, we thought He was talking about emphasis. After all, how could it be "new". It had been around from the beginning - how could it suddenly be new? Sounds more like a rehash doesn't it? The reason it was new was because the pursuit of God no longer had anything to do with laws, rules, Temples, priests, sacrifices, and ceremonial performances. Love was now the only tool we needed to know God, please God, and be like God and "one another love" was the best way to learn it. Once we realize that love (God's love) isn't a feeling but a choice - a decision to act - all that worldly feel-good romance oriented thinking about love goes out the window. We only know God to the extent we know love! Everything else is only tools to use to help make that happen. Now my only question is, how did I miss that for so many years?