Monday, September 28, 2009

Now That's Love, Part II

If it is true that God can only act in love, then there would be no suffering, no evil, no condemnation, right?

No - suffering, evil and condemnation resulted because man did not love God not because God did not love man. Though God gave the first man and woman everything they could have wanted, they still wanted more. They wanted to be the Creator instead of the created. It was an impossible desire, but the allure of choice inflated man with the illusion of power and control.....for if they could break free of the boundary perhaps they could become their own master. The possibility of power was more appealing than relationship with the all-powerful Creator. But what they did not understand is that they were made for relationship with the Creator. When they chose to break free of the boundary, they lost a part of their identity and gained a burden that they were never intended to carry: the burden of being separated from Love and all of the decay that comes with such a separation.

God desired to keep them from ever knowing such decay, that is why He set the boundary. Yet it was God's love, as well as His desire to offer authentic relationship, that enabled them the option of overstepping the boundary. Authentic relationship always carries with it the possibility of rejection.

The hardest aspect for me to understand is God's desire for relationship with a created being when He has perfect relationship within the Trinity...He did not need relationship with man, He wanted relationship with man. He wanted to give life to a creation in His own image, a creation that could feel, think and express, because He wanted to bless that creation.

A Love without selfish intent is very hard to comprehend. You may feel that in creating us God showed selfishness - Didn't He create us for Himself? No, He created us to bless us with Himself, to share Himself with us. He wanted us to experience the perfect relationship that He shares within the Trinity. He is everything good. He is perfect love. To give perfect goodness and perfect love to someone else is not selfishness, it is an act of unnecessary kindness. We were created so that we could know Love -- and Love felt that sharing Love was worth the rejection -- now that's Love!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Now That's Love, Part I

There are many thoughts from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity which produce deep thought in me. In fact, often it seems that some of the deepest meditation in me is sparked by Lewis' most simple thoughts. A plethora of ideas formed within me as a result of the following quote by Lewis: "The reason why I hated the things (cowardice, conceit, greed - my bad actions) was that I loved the man". With these words, Lewis was explaining that his love for himself was not evidenced when he liked all of his actions, rather it was in the dislike of his ugly actions that his love for himself was shown. By wanting his life to produce good fruit he is showing that he wants the best for himself. Wanting the best for himself shows that he loves himself.

The constant standard for love is a desire for truth. To love myself means that I desire my life to be built on truth. Likewise, to love others means that I desire their lives to be grounded in truth. As I Corinthians 13:6 says, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. This is the love that God shows for all of sinful mankind. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus says that He did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Would he call those that He did not love? Would God make a way of restoration if He did not love man? No, His love was relayed when while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God's love is shown in that He desires the very best for every sinner. He does not delight in evil, He knows that evil is the path of destruction. Not wanting any to perish, but longing for all to come to repentance, God's heart is for every man to avoid the path of destruction. Such a desire shows His love for the sinner. But His love is not only shown by His good desire and plan, it is also shown by the allowance that He has given to man. Before the foundation of the world, God created the possibility of choosing relationship with Him or of choosing our own way. This very act of allowance is marked by love. Love says to His created, "I love you too much to make you love Me." God has made an allowance of free choice: He will not make the sinner choose Him. If God made the sinner choose Him, then He would not be loving the sinner; without free choice, the sinner would never experience Love. Those who have chosen Him love Him because He first loved them.

There will be those who do not choose Him. Even though He loves them and made a way for them to know His love, they will not come to recongnize this Love. This will happen because they do not understand that the offer of choice flows from Love. They think that since there is choice then obviously there is something good which God wants to keep from them, some pleasure or power that He does not want them to enjoy. These are their thoughts because they are looking at God through the lens of their own sinful heart and motives. They completely misunderstand a Love that has the power to create them, as well as the power to make them choose Him, and yet does not exercise the latter power.

If they had such power they would exercise it. They would make their creation submit to their every whim. Since God does not do this, He must not be very powerful, actually He must be trying to keep His creation from knowing His weaknesses -what other reason could there be for Him to allow choice? Wouldn't He only allow a choice if He had no choice? I guess in a sense, because He cannot deny Himself, He had no choice: since He is Love, He can only act in love.

Part II will soon follow....

Monday, September 14, 2009

My God Can Help Me Scale A Wall

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall. -Psalm 18:28-29

God recently used these verses to encourage me regarding the walls that develop in relationships....

To grow and flourish, a healthy relationship needs two people who are committed to the progress of that relationship. Each person must do their part to sustain the relationship. Nevertheless, even in healthy relationships, hurts, misunderstandings and disagreements can quickly arise. Before we can even blink, such hurts can lead to the construction of a formidable wall that stands stubbornly in the midst of that relationship. With God's help, these formidable walls can be scaled.

Yet, just as there are two sides to every relationship, there are two sides to every wall. To abolish the wall completely, both individuals must allow God to help them scale their side of the wall. If both individuals are not committed to the scaling process, then their relationship will cease to progress. Frequently, you will find that one individual is invested in the wall climbing exertion while the other individual has little desire to attempt the endeavor.

When I scale a wall, my goal is to make it to the other side....but what happens when there is a blockage that keeps me from making it to that other side? In this situation I am left with two options: climb back down or sit on top of the wall. This same scenario will often surface with relational walls. We are attempting to get to the other side of our relational wall, but find that our passage is blocked. The person on the other side of that wall is important to us....we desire to see this relationship restored, so we try to reach over the wall, around the wall even through the wall, yet every effort at restoration is met with an impenetrable barricade. At this point, we must decide if we are going to climb back down or if we are going to stay on top of that wall.

If we choose to climb back down the wall, we are essentially erecting our own barricade, a barricade which closes our heart off from forgiveness and freedom. If we choose to stay on top of that wall, we have freed ourselves to love and forgive. The initial barricade may remain, there may not be reciprocity, but we can know a restoration in our own spirit. The peace of God can rule in our hearts....others may not choose to scale the wall to peace, but as far as it depends on us, we can live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

Oh, yes! With my God I can scale this wall and be freed from bitterness, hurt feelings, anger, and even from the impatience that comes when I do not see much progress in the other person's scaling journey. I am not responsible for their side of the wall, nor does the weight of this relationship's success rest solely on my shoulders. By myself, I cannot make this relationship work....I can only trust God to do the work in me that enables me to scale my side of the wall.

Though reconciliation may not result, the scaling effort is not in vain, for the view from atop that wall is clear and unhindered. If scaling efforts are initiated on the other side, my peace-filled heart is prepared. Yet most importantly, because I did not allow a wall to tower over me, my relationship with God will continue to flourish.

Unscaled walls obstruct my relationship with God, but walls scaled in God's strength enrich my intimacy with Him.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Soul-Generosity, Part II

By surrendering to God's truth over our own fear-filled feelings and emotions, our store of seed is increased and the harvest of our righteousness is enlarged. Simply put, the seed of God's Word is fertilized by our belief thus enabling Christ's fruitfulness to explode through our lives.

When we trust and surrender to God, our soul becomes fat and fortified. We are filled with the means to be soul generous. II Corinthians 9:11 says, You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. To be full of His fruit and overflowing in the richness of His ways is what God desires for each of His children.

He will provide the fortitude, patience, perseverance, kindness, love, etc. that is needed for every occasion. As we believe Him, He supplies everything needed for life and godliness! Along with this, since He is the Storehouse of our soul-generosity, we need not be concerned that our resources will be depleted. Our Storehouse cannot be drained of any resource, so as long as our connnection to the Storehouse is free and unhindered, our supply of soul fruit will thrive.

Yet, it is very important to remember that this fruit is not being cultivated within us so that we can hoard it for ourselves. We are graced so that we may grace others. God wants us to give His generosity to others, to grace them with His love....to be generous in our outlook of others, as God is toward us, for the more soul-generosity we give, the more God will harvest His righteousness within us.

As we rest in God's fruit, through belief and surrendered acceptance, His Spirit will then have a smooth, unobstructed path to express Himself through us -- this is truth being expressed through frailty, light flowing out of a tarnished glass.

I know that of myself, I am ungenerous. Generosity does not flow freely from me, but God has an unending flow -- With God as my confidence and strength, I can walk into any situation with open generosity of soul. God is my shield and my refuge, so I do not need to protect myself. If others do not respond generously toward me nevertheless God always will, for it is His very nature to be generous. Any generosity of soul that is realized through me is of Him and unto His glory. As I trust God's generous nature, I will be equipped to give generously on every occasion.