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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

In The Pursuit of Real love

After trying to fathom Gods pure and unconditional love in contrast to my hopeless failings as His daughter, I thought I would share some thoughts that I pondered on.

What is true love? Real Love?

Romans 8:38-39 tells us that there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God.

When I think about what love is, I am immediately inclined to think of beautiful flowers and fancy gifts that outwardly reflect what love is supposed to be. A lovely butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach, and something that puts a smile on my face. These outward shows of what love is meant to be make us feel good and somehow tells us - "this is what love does - it gives us 'things' and it makes us 'feel good".

If we are truly to understand love as it was truly intended, then we must look to the One that created love. Love does actually give us 'things' and it makes us feel good, but not always in the conventional way of fanciful gifts and feel good factors.

Scripture gives us a thorough and sound overview of what love really is. Love, as it is explained in 1 Corinthians gives us comparisons of what love's intentions are in truth, in comparison to what it wasn't intended to be.

''Love suffers long and it is kind'' - 1 Corin 13:4
(Love could be short and be unkind,when called for, but it is not).

In the times when we often feel that those around us are harsh, or unable to deal with our folly ways, in the times when we expect to be met by harshness, love shows itself as different.

''Love does not envy'' - 1 Corin 13:4
(Love could be envious, when presented to be, but it is not).

There are often times when we are in a position where we could be the subject of envy. You could be doing well, excelling in a particular area of your life, unlike those that may begin to harbour bad thoughts and indeed envy you - love does not do this.

''Love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up'' - 1 Corin 13:4
(Love could parade itself and be puffed up, but it does not).

There can be times when we want to shout from the rooftops at the good deeds we have done towards another in the name of love, to tell the whole world about the good intentions we have - true love is not a showmanship of great works and boastfulness, it is at times, quiet and gentle.

''Love does not behave rudely'' - 1 Corin 13:5
(Love could be rude, but it is not).

If you encounter one that says they love you, yet their approach towards you is one that is rude and harsh, all in the name of love - is this really love?

''Love does not seek it's own'' - 1 Corin 13:5
(Love could be about it's own gain, but it is not).

Have you ever thought about doing something for somebody else in the name of love, that may, as you intended make yourself look good in the eyes of others and wrought your own gain?

''Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth'' - 1 Corin 13:6
(Love could revel in the downfall of another, but instead it seeks after truth - God Himself, who is love).

Has someone ever fallen, made a mistake, and you silently snigger behind closed doors and tell everybody about it because you couldn't wait for that moment to arrive?

''Love bears all things'' - 1 Corin 13:7
(Love could choose to reject the invitation to carry each others burdens, but it does not).

Has someone ever asked you for help, not once, not twice, but three times, and still you have not made any movements to help them because, possibly you are too busy, or have your own issues to deal with?

"Love believes all things'' - 1 Corin 13:7
(Love could choose to not believe, but instead love believes).

Has anyone ever asked you to stand in faith with them to overcome a particular struggle in their life, even though they have time and time not been able to. You respond my outwardly holding their hand and interceding with them, but your mind has already dismissed them as a lost cause.

"Love hopes all things" - 1 Corin 13:7
(Love could be pessimistic, but instead remains optimistic).

"Love endures all things" - 1 Corin 13:7
(Love could run a mile a minute, but instead chooses to remain steadfast).

You know how it's so easy to love those that are loveable? But then once you meet with someone who has 'issues' you make excuses as why not to pick up their phone call or respond to their messages?

"Love never fails" - 1 Corin 13:8
(Love could choose to let you down, but instead it does not).

When I look at what love is as God intended, I find it interesting to see that the hope of love is presented in parodox with the pitfalls of failings. Love presents itself in situations when it is needed the most and when it is called for. It reminds me of the words that Jesus spoke to those that questioned Him in Mark 2:17- a Physician is on hand to cure and to fix, not to bring further ailment or detriment.

Love could be the opposite of all it presents itself to be, (it could be unkind, envious, boastful and prideful, rude, seek after its own, unbelieving, hopeless etc...). But it isn't, because that is not the intention of love.

Love, as it was intended, was for each to take one another for what we are in the face of grace, rather than condemn and belittle in the face of the law, allowing the nature of love to eventually allow its working to shape us to be what we were intended to be.

Love's aim, I find, therefore, is to react in ways that would in 'normal' situations be deemed as unprecedented. Instead of love reacting in a way that is just and lawful especially in the cases where justice and law is sought after, love instead gives us what we do not deserve, it gives us grace.

Love, as shown in 1 Corinthians relates back to Gods grace - His unmerited favour - in the times when we deserve far worse. Love is God Himself.

As I mediated on this, I was immediately presented with a voice that reminded me of things inside of me that is not in par with Gods spirit.

'Yeah, yeah, God loves you' the other voice spoke - 'but what about your sin? God loves you, ok this much you know, and nothing can separate you from His love - but you forget sin'?

Isa 59:2 states that our iniquities have separated us from God. So many times, I would hear this scripture in sermons, often, out of context. But in context, God was speaking to a people at the time that were rebellious and unwilling to turn their faces to His hand in the hope of receiving His salvation.

2 Corin states:

"God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them''. (2 Corin 5:19)

Sin does separate us from God, and we could look at this in two aspects:

1/ God's view: God hates sin. He abhors it, and he turns His face away from it. Our sin separates us from God, but not from His love.

2/ Our view: We feel guilt when we sin. Like a young child that has engaged in some wrong doing runs from their parent's hand of rebuke to try and hide, they want to run as far from that parent to avoid facing chastisement and the confrontation of their wrong doing.

We often and at times do run from God because we know that our wrongdoing has displeased Him and brought our sin to light. Inside of the child (us) that runs, dwells feelings of shame, embarrassment , regret and fear. We run because we do not want to face what we have done, especially in the face of love presented in it's purest yet mysterious form.

But...the parent, although their hand may be heavy to rebuke, still has love for the child. Their aim to confront the runaway is only to reinforce the love that cannot be separated in the hope of eradicating the error encountered and reinforce redemption and wholeness.

The prodigal son was one who was not unfamiliar with the love and acceptance of his Father in the midst of his own failings. Did the sin of the woman caught in adultery turn Jesus's face away from showing her love and forgiveness? Did the sin of Zaccheus, turn Jesus's face away from dining with him? Does the sin that dwells in you turn Jesus's face away from reconciling you to Him? No,it does not, rather it is His love that draws you and brings your sin to light that you may deal with it. Gods grace and love is by all means not an invitation to sin, it is simply a lifeline in the times that we may inevitably

So, like we may run from God in the face of some wrongdoing, and thus, yes our sin separates us from God, only because of our subconscious at work, the love of God is willing to draw us,despite of this - for we are of a sinful nature, but are are not sin itself.

We are encouraged to trust in God in all of our ways and lean not to our own understanding and to acknowledge Him in all our ways. (All - everything, nothing left out, the small, the big, the good and the bad).

When you draw near to God, His love for you will surpass your sin, that He may rejoice in lovingly reconciling you to Him. make mistakes.

God turned away his face from Jesus when He was upon the cross, unable to fathom the sins of the world that lay upon Christ, yet it was Gods hate for sin that drew His love to Christ,and it was Gods love that resurrected,our Saviour.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who dies, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?

Romans 8:31-35

So, Gods love for us, may not come in the form of fancy gifts and feel good factors, but it runs far deeper than that...to let us know His love as it was truly intended.

Feel free to challenge what I have written or comment or question, as I am just sharing some thoughts.