The Origin of Love

I have been reflecting on God ‘s love for us in Christ and am drawn steadily back to 1 John 4:10.  “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  These reflections on the Gospel truly show us the good news of Jesus’ kingdom.  To be governed, constrained, compelled by this great love is much greater than the self-loathing so easily generated by our efforts at being loveable.

I was delighted today to read in James Bryan Smith’s book, Embracing the Love of God” how God had moved him from self-loathing and earnest promises to “do better” to rest in the love of God shown us in Christ.  Smith quotes Soren Kierkegard’s prayer:

You have loved us first, O God, alas!  We speak of it in terms of history as if You loved us first but a single time, rather than that without ceasing.  You have loved us first many times and everyday and our whole life through.  When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul toward You–You are there first–You have loved us first; if I rise at dawn and at that same second turn my soul toward You in prayer, You are there ahead of me, You have loved me first.  When I withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn my soul toward You, You are there first and thus forever.  And we speak ungratefully as if You have loved us first only once.

May this truth of Jesus become our on-going reality and experience.


Identity videos used on the weekend

I have had several inquiries about the videos used on the weekend in Part 3 of our series, Renew my Life Lord!  This week we are exploring how to battle our spiritual amnesia by “remembering who you are and who’s you are.”  You can watch the videos below.

i want love

One of the saddest songs and music videos that still echos through my brain is I Want Love by Elton John.  Here are the lyrics if you haven’t contemplated them lately.

I want love, but it’s impossible
A man like me, so irresponsible
A man like me is dead in places
Other men feel liberated

I can’t love, shot full of holes
Don’t feel nothing, I just feel cold
Don’t feel nothing, just old scars
Toughening up around my heart

But I want love, just a different kind
I want love, won’t break me down
Won’t brick me up, won’t fence me in
I want a love, that don’t mean a thing
That’s the love I want, I want love

I want love on my own terms
After everything I’ve ever learned
Me, I carry too much baggage
Oh man I’ve seen so much traffic

So bring it on, I’ve been bruised
Don’t give me love that’s clean and smooth
I’m ready for the rougher stuff
No sweet romance, I’ve had enough

I find this to be a brilliant song that describes the conundrum in which we find ourselves–wanting love without constraints, wanting love but feeling incapable of it, wanting love but completely misunderstanding the nature of genuine love.  Is it possible to give what you have never received?  If I asked you for 40 billion dollars could you give it to me?  Most likely no.  But that even begs the question of whether or not it would be particularly beneficial for you to give me 40 billion dollars if you had it.  But the scoop on love is that it is terrible difficult for us to give love if we have not been given love.

Timothy Keller in his book, Reason for God in an Age of Skepticism says that many people have been inoculated against the Gospel.  But it may be worse than we imagined.  It seems to me that many of us may be inoculated against personal relationships with God and with each other that might be characterized by love.  Many of us feel called on to love and yet are radically incapable of it because we have yet to experience the freedom that comes from realizing that that though we are imperfect we are lovable.  I experience the temptation to masquerade as a perfect person through the performance trap and the lie that, “People who fail are unworthy of love.”  Incredibly through Jesus and the Gospel of God’s love poured out through the Cross I am confronted with a God who loves me though I fail.

The confusion about love abounds around us.  Last week I was confronted with how imperfectly I love and how difficult it is for others to receive kindness when their experience floods them with mistrust, doubt, suspicion, and fears of rejection and abandonment.  I want love, but “I want it on my own terms.”  The problem then is that the “lover” who loves well has boundaries and a healthy unwillingness to just make another person happy by doing everything the other wants.

I am not the first to write on the dilemma of loving and being loved.  As you can see I have not yet sorted through the layers of this onion.