Last week I was in quite the mood. This week, I would really like to take a different tone. Not that I am not still angry over what happened, but because the last time I held onto and dwelled on some incident that happened there, I ended up with a physical demonic attack.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV)
So, since there isn’t anything I can really do (besides either blog about it, or go get in someone’s face), I “let go and let God.” Sometimes I have to do that multiple times a day.
I wrote about demons a couple of weeks ago because I don’t think (at least among the more conservative/fundamental churches), spiritual warfare is being taught in a way that prepares believers to fight. Spiritual warfare is not simply a battle of wills within your mind. The battle of wills is putting sin to death within you. But I digress, and I’ve already written that post.
I think something else that has been neglected in being fully taught is love. And therefore, we have a culture that largely has no idea what love is both inside and outside the church. We largely equate love with affection for another person or sexual attraction to another person or even pity or sympathy. Each of those can and do operate outside of actual love. Because love isn’t about what you get out of it.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)
Love honors “for better or for worse.” It’s what can recognize the repentance of an adulterous spouse, forgiving and remaining. It is what stays with the alcoholic drug addict when almost everyone tells them to boot them to the curb. Even when they deserve to be booted to the curb. Love doesn’t care what your social class is. Love doesn’t care what color skin you have. Love doesn’t care what political party you belong to or even whether or not you belong to one. Love doesn’t provide a list of rules to earn the love because love knows everyone is created in the image of God and no one can ever be good enough to earn the grace that Jesus provides through his death, burial, and resurrection.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11, ESV)
Love doesn’t wish ill on others. Love doesn’t dance on graves. Love reaches out to the broken.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21, ESV)
When I started this post, I didn’t know how in the world I would write it. It just seemed so hard, probably because I am still learning how to truly love. Turns out, though, that the scriptures speak more than I ever could. And I fail so often on most of these. But I will wrap this up with one final appeal to the church. First, always remember that even we who are believers were once enemies of God, and were reconciled only because the Holy Spirit drew us and enlightened to us the once for all sacrifice that Jesus did for us enabling us with the faith to believe in him as Savior and make him the Lord of our lives. We have done nothing to make ourselves better than unbelievers nor one another. Jesus did it all, and He did it because he loves us.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11, ESV)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35, ESV)