Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Loving Your Neighbor

Posted: May 16, 2018 in Blog
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Of faith, hope, and love—love is the greatest of these. Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, and loving the lost has been the focus; we’ve yet to come to loving Jesus Christ, be patient we’ll get there. 

Love has no shortage of biblical precept, nor is there a shortage of need for discussion. 

Loving the lost, our fellow man, our neighbor is our current focus. In Matthew 22:36–40 we read about the greatest of the commands, ““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The command is clear. Its goal is equally as clear. Yet Christians need much more than the command to love. How so? By answering why its necessary, and how the ability to authentically love is even possible is highly important to this discussion. Otherwise commands are the platform of loveless death. Let’s face it, love, true love, isn’t ooie-gooey-warm-and-fuzzy, I don’t care what the Princess Bride teaches. 

Horace Bushnell has beautifully expressed love in light of the perfection of the atonement. In the end, unless we grasp the perfection of the atonement, we will never really understand the power and depth of love as commanded in Christ. 

John 15:13,Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Love is a principle essentially vicarious in its own nature, identifying the subject with others, so as to suffer their adversities and pains, and taking on itself the burden of their evils. There is a Gethsemane hid in all love. Holding such a view of vicarious sacrifice, we must find it belonging to the essential nature of all holy virtue. We are also required, of course, to go forward and show how it pertains to all other good beings, as truly as to Christ himself in the flesh—how the eternal Father before Christ, and the Holy Spirit coming after, and the good angels both before and after, all alike have borne the burdens, struggled in the pains of their vicarious felling for men; and then, at last, how Christianity come to its issue, in begetting in us the same vicarious love that reigns in all the glorified and good minds of the heavenly kingdom; gathering us in after Christ our Master, as they have learned to bear his cross, and be with him in his passion.” Horace Bushnell

The Day After…

Posted: February 15, 2018 in Blog
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Valentines day, baa-hum-bug! It is not as though I don’t have a special someone to love, nor is it that I’m into airing grief. Those who grind their axes in regularly scheduled  complaint sessions are often filled with sarcastic whining, but mostly it is faithless jesting, which are both contrary to walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

Back to Valentines day, it is just silly. One must sacrifice a card & chocolates upon the alter of St. Valentine or suffer wrath. If this ritual isn’t kept the gods of feminist idealism pronounce the worthlessness of man, at which time he must be slain in the public eye for being an unfeeling brute. It is curious to note in this age of equality, women don’t have the same demand placed upon them during this day. It is as though the differences between men and women are embraced when… Sorry, I digress.

Don’t worry, I’m taking my wife to dinner. We will go and hang out, catch up, and enjoy each other when we get time, and by God’s grace we have had sixteen years of making time for regular hang outs. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m gonna spend time with my favorite person on the planet. That’s why I may buy a card, or get chocolates, or get flowers, cause she is awesome, not because it is a mandate upon which I’ll suffer the wrath of cultural expectation if I don’t comply. The mopey wife doesn’t illicit fear in me to produce a bouquet of flowers. The insistence of a fallen notion of love and the consumer driven ideal has no power here! valentines-day-memes-15

There is a complexity to love that is beyond our ability to comprehend. A scheduled day, oddly tied to a martyr, where we submit to the cultural pressure, cannot even begin to plumb the depths of love. Some may take issue with this statement. However, if said objectors define love by the pretense of Hollywood, modern pop psychology, the latest Oprah show, or a juggling monkey down at MiniMart; then I’m not too far off, mankind has difficulty understanding the complexity of genuine love.

Love is not defined by a feeling at any give moment, or a gift given in that moment, or even by the favor of a person in any given circumstance. Favor can be given, as well as a gifts without genuine love. If love were defined in such a manner, as stuff given and favor presented in a particular moment, which experience demonstrates is fleeting, there would be as much comfort and joy as being locked in a closet with an orangutan using a slide whistle. Let that image sink in for a minute…

Love is complex, like so many other things, because it has perversions and counterfeits. But it is also complex because genuine love does not stem from the emotive center of a person, which is how so many people intuitively identify love. On the contrary, genuine-Christ-like-love is decisive action leading the heart to feel a particular way. This manner of love for others could never be achieved apart from the person Jesus Christ.

That’s enough about what love is and what it is not, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Whether it be for your sweetheart, or your neighbor, or your sworn enemy – Let love be genuine. Don’t let love be a put on, don’t let it be a facade to satisfy the cultural gods. That isn’t from faith, but it becomes a form of religious pretense. Do the faith-filled-God-empowered-Jesus-loving-hard-work of being a genuinely loving person. The depth of genuine love is beyond the scope of strong feelings toward someone. Love is not founded in general niceness, or mutual affirmation. .

So how do you love someone who doesn’t like you, or support you, or who isn’t nice to you, or who hurts you? How do you love those you don’t like, or support, or whom you haven’t been nice? Or how do you love the ones who are closest to you? The answer is simple. Look to Christ, the manner of love he gave, the manner of love He calls us to, and the manner of love He empowers.

Romans 12:9-10, “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.”

Church Problems

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Blog
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In the last post I considered the Westminster Confession of Faith, and C.H. Spurgeon’s threefold critique of the church. The WCF presented the church as always on the earth to worship God, and the church will be imperfect until glorification at Christ’s return. Spurgeon posited that the three major problems he dealt with in the church were lovelessness toward God, each other, and the lost.

The problem of the church being arranged into these groupings is that in some way there is a failure to recognize that her problems are as myriad and pronounced as there are members of the body. Meaning that the problem of the church is the people. The ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people! Don’t get distracted by a stupid pastoral pun. It’s equally true that pastors are the problem, because they are part of the church, and are themselves people.

The church is the bride of Christ who is flawed, but who gathers for the sake of worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. This corporate worship exists for many important purposes, one of which is consecration, meaning that gathered followers of Christ are being transformed from one degree of glory to another, in turn bringing glory to Christ. We gather to grow as a corporate whole, and individually; we gather for the glory of Christ; we gather as the redeemed who are not yet glorified; we gather as the imperfect & flawed bride, whom Christ accepted and loved.

This imperfect gathering of Christ followers looks to the hope of future perfection reveling in the promise of heavenly glory. We seek to mature in Christ, build one another up in love, for the glory of Christ.

It is much easier to point out the problems of the church rather than deal with your own issues. Really, who wants to gather with the church to hear about their faults? Gatherings in Christ are  not for the sake of paying penance or expiation for weekly misdeeds. Nor is it for the sake of merely gaining information. An important purpose in gathering is for hearing the Word of God preached, by which the aroma of life creeps into the dark caverns of life exposing darkness to the light. If in Christ wereceive the Word of God meekly implanted it will save our souls, (James 1:21) purifying the spotless bride of Christ, (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Over the next few weeks we will examine our imperfections, taking time to think biblically about the flaws of the church: a want of love to one another; a want of love to souls; and a want of love to Jesus Christ.