Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Love Always Perseveres

July 20, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’ve been going through the chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what we can learn about the subject of love. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the topic of perseverance.

As I sat down to write this, I thought about the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Now I’m not an expert on Calvinism I admit, but from what I gather, it is the idea that those who are saints will indeed persevere in their faith. Despite what circumstances come their way, if they are saved, they will endure to the end.

Whether that is true or not is irrelevant at this point. When we think about the doctrine, we think about it in the sense of salvation, but do we think about it in the sense of practical living. We know if we persevere to the end, then that shows that we are of the elect. However, perhaps we should take persevering to the end to also mean that we will be loving to the end.

Ever been angry at God? I mean really upset with Him? Now I fear we might have some types who see themselves as super holy and will say “Nope! Not me! I’ve always loved God intensely!” Well if that’s you, good for you. The rest of this then is written for myself and the rest of us mere ordinary Christians who have had anger with God.

What do you do? If you’re in ministry like myself, do you say “Forget you! I’m done with this!” and go off on your own way? Note I did not ask if you’re not tempted to do that. The temptation to walk away in ministry can be very tempting at times. The question is what do you do?

If you’re like me, chances are you find somehow, there is something within you that makes you want to serve Him anyway. It’s not because you really feel like it at the time, but because you know that you have a devotion to do so anyway and you’re going to whether you feel like it or not.

Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in a talk of his tells about being in a classroom once in a Christian school, probably a Seminary, and hearing the professor say “Marriage is hard work.” He told his classmate sitting next to him that he didn’t like that and the classmate said “Yeah. I know what you mean. Why don’t you say something?”

So Ravi raised his hand and stood up and the professor said “Yes Zacharias?”

“I heard you say that marriage is hard work. I don’t appreciate that.”

“Are you married Zacharias?”

“No.”

“Shut up. Sit down. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

When Ravi got married, he realized his professor was right. Marriage is hard work.

Marriage is hard because it’s two people and let’s face it, we each tend to look out for #1, and your #1 gets in the way of my #1. The two people don’t always see eye to eye and yet have a commitment. Sometimes, they won’t feel like it. Sometimes, it’ll be hard. Sometimes, the other person will be someone you don’t want to be with at that moment, but you are to love anyway. I hear of guys who say their wives are driving them crazy.

For me personally, I try to look at myself first every time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I am at fault every time, but why not start there? What can I do to better love my wife. It also means however that now or in the future, no matter what I am feeling, I am to love my wife. That is not a feeling. That is an action. It may or may not result in feelings, but it is to be done nonetheless.

And that love will persevere. If you are not persevering, perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are really loving. This does not mean that the love in marriage and the love of God will not get difficult. Do you persevere through something you enjoy? I do not sit down and say “I’ll have to persevere through watching all of these Smallville episodes.” You don’t endure through good books. You endure through bad ones. If we’re off to do something we enjoy we jokingly say “Well I guess I have to put myself through this suffering.” No. Perseverance comes through hard things.

Love goes through hard things. That’s love. The question is, “Do the benefits outweigh the costs?”

And in the case of ministry and marriage, I will say “Yes. Absolutely.”

Love Always Hopes

July 19, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’re going through 1 Corinthians 13 and looking at what Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we discuss how love always hopes.

No one likes to fail. There was a time in my past when I was working hard on getting my Master’s in the New Testament. When the time came, I was told by one of the professors that my thesis had not been accepted and I was stunned. I was told it was because of my writing style. I was surprised since I had taken writing tests that had placed me on the top. My reply was that I might have reached my maximum academic potential and just wasn’t capable of that kind of writing.

For one who loves to write, that was like being hit with a ton of bricks.

As it stands, I am now at Seminary and have written a number of successful research papers and when I look back on that point, I realize that really, that’s just one person’s opinion and there’s no reason to give up on a dream. I am quite pleased where I am and believe the future holds great things.

That’s the beauty of hope, and that’s what love does. Love hopes. It refuses to see the failure as final. This doesn’t mean that love refuses to look at reality. In fact, we Christians should be the people emphasizing reality the most, for all of reality is God’s reality. He is Lord of all that is.

Keep in mind other writings of Paul. Paul was the one who told the church in Thessalonica that they were to grieve, but when they grieve, not to grieve like those who have no hope. Not even death is final. He wrote to the church in Rome that all things are working together for the good of those who love the Lord. If that is the case, then indeed no failure is ultimately final.

Now he tells us to hope. This would be a comfort to a church that was stricken with numerous divisions. It might be difficult for them, but God isn’t done with them yet. This division does not have to define them. That’s our great danger. Failing in one thing, as we will all do at times, does not make us failures. If that is the case, everyone in the human race pretty much is a failure because we’ve all failed. We cannot define ourselves by one-time events that happen to us.

When we consider the aspect of seeking the good of the other, love becomes even more important. Love seeks the good of the other. When we say love always hopes, it means that love always hopes in the good of the other. Love always believes that the other is capable of doing good and is wiling to stand beside them. It is by love that the two stand together and face all odds.

Love always hopes.

Love Always Trusts

July 18, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. A good friend did make a donation last night to us and for that we are very much appreciative. What is able to be done here is because of the support of such good friends prayerfully and financially. To get to the blog, we’re continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing how love always trusts.

What does it mean to trust? It does not mean blind belief. It does not mean that love just accepts everything that is said entirely. It means that love prefers to give the benefit of the doubt.

Before my marriage, a friend of mine I was dialoguing with who happened to be the one who did the ceremony told me that he always saw my devotion to my wife because I was always ready to give the benefit of the doubt. If I thought there was something she needed to work on, I could say it but then say, “But I also have to keep this factor in mind.”

Let’s face it. There are all times that we do not really act in the way we generally behave. Something could be wrong. Maybe we didn’t get enough sleep or maybe we’re hungry or maybe we’re in a stressful time. Whatever it is, there are times that we reply to situations as we ought not to. Most often, we know that we are doing so. The reality is also that most of us don’t want to be judged by those times entirely. We realize we have made a mistake and that we should not act in that way and that we will work on that.

This means that if someone seems to be doing something to wrong you, then please throw out the idea of a nefarious plot to hurt you. It could be that for a time, they do desire to hurt you, but when the push comes to shove, if you needed them at that moment for something special, do you think that they would be right there for you? Absolutely.

This is also something we are more prone to do the less we’re focusing on ourselves. Many of our issues comes with the way we perceive other people will see us, as if they have nothing better to do with their days than spend all their time watching us. The truth of the matter is that most people throughout the day don’t care a bit about you. They don’t care, and that’s a very good thing. Why should you be under pressure to be perfect for people who aren’t all about you? (And frankly, no one should be all about you.)

It is usually our tendency to assume the worst in one another and not only in one another, but also in ourselves. In fact, I would say several of us do it with God as well. We often picture God as looking down on us just seeing how He can make our lives miserable.

I wonder, how it would be if we could really see God as constantly working in the lives of those who love Him to bring about their good? What if we could really believe that? What if there was a place in the Bible such as, oh, I don’t know, maybe Romans 8 where such a thing was promised?

Maybe we should start believing that?

And maybe if we got the love of God right, we’d get all the other loves right as well.

Love Always Protects

July 16, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve just recently spoken with a friend of mine interested in helping us out with getting a good 501c3 and with fundraising and other aspects of ministry today that are not directly research oriented. Thus, hopefully we will have a website up soon. For our own topic of discussion tonight however, I am going to be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing the topic of “Love Always Protects.”

My wife and I recently had dinner with some friends of ours that go to school with me and church with both of us. In that discussion we had that evening, the topic of our relationships came up to which I told them that my wife does have a genuine fear about my devotion for her. Those who see me know that I am not physically built in any way, seeing as I am incredibly thin, I have scoliosis, and I’m underweight. Despite all that, the Mrs. fears, and I can see myself doing this easily, that if anyone tried to hurt her that I would fight to the very end to protect her, even if my own life was forfeit.

None of us like to think about that of course. (Although granted men, we tend to think of us going kung fu or ninja on a bunch of bad guys and wiping the floor with them.) However, there is a strong protective quality to love. The love that Christ has for the church is so strong that he is willing to die for the church.

Kind of makes the whole thing about the Bible suppressing women look different when men are supposed to be willing to die for their wives doesn’t it?

Why does love protect? Love seeks the good of the beloved. It is not looking out for its own good but how the other can be blessed. For the Christian man then, life is a small thing to give up if he has to. The same is true for missionaries who end up dying in foreign lands for the cause of Christ. Death is a small thing to them compared to the love of what it is that they are dying for.

The protection says that the thing which is loved is that which ought not come under that kind of harm. Of course, some harm can sadly be necessary. The mother is not likely to knock out the doctor who is giving her child a shot, as much as that child might beg and plead for that to go away and for his mother to not allow this to happen, for the mother knows that the shot is for the good of the child.

But if you are seeking the good of the good, then you will protect that good. You will want to make sure that no harm comes to it. While some may think that no harm can come to God, to which they are correct, his message can be harmed. Not in the sense that it will lose its power or be untrue, but in the sense that it can be silenced in a land if it is not protected. This is something we have to be aware of when governments are often encroaching in on us with the open message of “tolerance.”

Our love for the gospel should be that we do not want the message to lose its impact. We want its good to be able to go on, and thus, we will readily defend it from all attackers. We will only do this if we have a love for the gospel. Maybe that’s what we should be asking next. Do we love the gospel?

This might seem like an obvious question, but maybe it isn’t. A lot of times we can get so caught up in the intellectual side of the gospel that we miss out the applicational side of it today in our lives. Let us remember that the gospel proclaimed on Pentecost is the same gospel that we are to be proclaiming today. We are to stand in continuity with our Christian predecessors. The reason we argue against the cults today is that they stand against the truth the church has always stood for.

Now granted, there are some objections we have today that they did not have, but there are still similarities. They might not have had the Watchtower to deal with, but they did have Arianism. They might not have had Mormonism, but they had Gnosticism which was also highly polytheistic. Atheism was around to a limited extent back then. We have to deal with beliefs like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Islam came after Christ of course, but Hinduism and Buddhism were mainly far away so the church did not have much interaction with them, although there was some. Whenever something arises that is contrary however to the truth of the gospel, it is the duty of every Christian to stand up for the truth of Christ that has been taught.

Let us not miss over this in being intellectual at times. The two are not opposed. One should think about the gospel they love. One should love the gospel they think about. We should seek to know more the God we love and we should seek to love more the God that we know.

Love always protects. If we love our Lord and His message, let us defend both. Many of us who are men would willingly die for our wives. Many women would also willingly die for their children. What are we willing to give our Lord?

Love Rejoices With The Truth

July 15, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 and love in that chapter.

I find this passage to be an interesting contrast. Love does not delight in evil is how it starts. We would expect the contrast to speak about goodness, but instead, it speaks about truth. Why counter evil with truth? In reality, those of us who are apologists know that this is what we do every day.

The way to counter evil is with the truth, and this is the truth of the gospel. Martin Luther taught us that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Why? Because we all need that truth. We all need to know what the truth is about who God says He is and who He says we are.

It surprises some people when they find out that as one prone to anxiety, that I often can think quite clearly on philosophical and theological matters, but when it comes to my own personal thinking, then all the rationality that I possess seems to go right out the window. In those times for me, the truth of the gospel can be hardest to come home.

I suspect that I am not alone, and why would it be the case that the truth of the gospel is so hard to see? It is because when we are in the midst of problems, all we can generally see are the problems. God is usually seen as off in the distance and we don’t see the immediate relevance of the gospel to our lives.

Many of us are also wired differently emotionally. I often wonder about worship services I’m at, particularly with a much younger audience, as I see the people worshiping and raising their hands and such and I’m tempted to wonder how much of it is really real. Are people really worshiping or is it sometimes that they are wanting to worship and thinking that worship consists of a mood?

Honestly then, I am not one who wakes up in the morning and says “Jesus is alive and my sins are forgiven. Let me rejoice!” Now there are times I do get caught in awe and wonder, but those are not normative. Is this a deficiency in me? It could be. Or it could be that I’m more normal than I realize and simply get concerned for not seeming to build up to the “common” notion.

However we do it though, we are called to rejoice with the truth. The truth of the gospel should bring joy to us. Note I said joy and not happiness as happiness is a loaded term in our modern terminology. Joy I think refers to an attitude and not to a feeling. It refers to the outlook we have on life. Are we going to be living our lives looking through the lens of the truth of the gospel are looking as if we think we’re all that there is and God for all intents and purposes does not exist?

We all know we need the gospel for salvation, but we forget we need it for all else. We need the truth of the gospel. You need it. I need it. Your pastor needs it. The Seminary teacher needs it. Everyone needs it.

So let’s give it.

We shall continue next time.

Love Does Not Delight In Evil

July 14, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I have seen a comment recently on a post I’ve made on stoning children and it is appreciated. I hope before too long to write something more for CARM as I’ve been writing some for them lately on if belief in God is like belief in Santa. Stay tuned for all that’s going on with Deeper Waters.

Tonight in looking at the topic of love, we’re going to discuss the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 where it is said that love does not delight in evil.

When I was preparing to get married, my pre-marital counselor was telling me that seminary students like myself will be glad to defend total depravity, but when it comes to us, we somehow get shocked when we find out we’re totally depraved. We will gladly evangelize and state that man has a sin nature and that is his problem, but what a surprise to find out it is in fact OUR problem.

But it is.

We are twisted creatures at heart. We find it shocking to hear that love does not delight in evil because, well, who would? The answer? We would. In fact, the Germans have the word schadenfreude to refer to the delight in another person’s suffering. We all have some sadistic tendencies in us.

There are sad times that we get bad news and in a way, we want to pass it on to see if other people will react. Now of course, there is a sense of justice at times where we want others to reap what they are owed for their actions, but there are times we want them to reap simply because we want them to suffer for the sake of suffering. We want them to suffer for our joy. We will be happy knowing they are suffering.

Many of us can think of situations that seem to paint someone in a negative light and then think about how we’ll show them. How many people have plotted a way they would be tempted to get revenge on someone if they could? Does it seem shocking that a Seminary student might think along the same ways? I am reminded then of the pastor who spoke at a pastor’s conference and said that he was sad to say that just minutes before speaking on the holiness of God, he has some of the most unholy thoughts going through his mind.

Yes. That’s us. Usually rather than do something about those unholy thoughts, we instead relish them when we shouldn’t.

“I know I should let this anger go against this person, but I’d much rather hold on to it.”

“I know I shouldn’t look at this pornography, but it’s just oh so appealing.”

“I know I should be doing more work, but I think I’ll just slack off a bit longer.”

“I know I should forgive this person if they come to me, but I want to hold it over their head and make them pay for what they’ve done.”

Let’s be clear Christians. If we come to Christ’s words and we hear what we should do, we don’t put a “but” onto it. When Christ says “love your neighbor as yourself”, you do so. When he says to forgive as you have been forgiven, you do so. When he tells you not to worry or be anxious, you do so. You don’t add the buts.

But of course, we do, because, well, we all know better than Christ.

Love does not delight in evil since evil is contrary to the nature of God. We should seek the good. How can we say we are seeking good when we are delighting in evil? Ravi Zacharias has spoken of how we can see a scene on TV that we should be looking away from, but instead we watch intrigued. When I got married, I made it a point to avoid those scenes. It’s a battle, but I try. There was a day and age the Mrs. and I have talked about when a movie would have the man and woman go into the room, close the door, and you’d hear a click of a lock. That was it. I don’t approve of the action among non-marrieds, but at least they didn’t have to show everything.

Today, are we delighting in evil or not? Is your delight in God? If so, then how can it be that any delight in evil is allowed? Seek to banish it today!

Love is not Easily Angered

July 13, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, the wife has been looking at a web hosting program so hopefully we’ll be able to get a web site up soon. We’re also planning to talk to someone soon about a 501c3 meaning Deeper Waters will be more than just a blog. For tonight however, we’re continuing our look at 1 Corinthians 13 with how love is not easily angered.

Note that it says easily angered. Anger itself is not a sin. It can lead to sin, but then so can many other emotional states. The modern idea of love can lead to sin. I do not doubt that many couples who have pre-marital sex have a great love for each other. The love of many other things can lead to addiction. As it is, what is needed more than anything else is self-control.

There are facts that we need to get angry about. If someone is hurting someone we love, we should get angry. When the gospel is being mocked by someone, we should get angry. We are too often prone to sit back and say “We must not hurt their feelings.” Most of us would not put up with someone insulting our mother or our spouse or our children, but we sit back and try to be gentle when someone insults our God.

Yet what about the times where we should not get angry? To be fair, working with our reactions can be very hard a lot of times. It is quite natural to have immediate anger when something does not go our way. A danger here is the idea that if it is natural, then that means it is understandable and okay.

It is understandable, but that does not mean it is okay. We can see why someone would get angry, but that does not mean that getting angry is okay. Most of the things we get angry over are things that we should not get angry over. They are little things that go wrong that are mild annoyances and yet we make them all-important issues. After all, the world has to be absolutely perfect. It just has to!

To say love is not easily angered is to call us to self-control and dare I say it, checking ourselves first before we’re ready to lash out at the other person. It means that before you scream at your kids, that you take some time to breathe. It means that when your spouse does something contrary to you, that you don’t just slam the doors in the house.

If you get angry, the best thing to do is to try to work it out. In our household, times where I have been upset I have at the end of the day talked over with the wife and let her know that something she did upset me, and she does the same to me if something I do upsets her. That kind of freedom to be able to share I consider absolutely essential. Note this my friends who plan to get married. You must learn to communicate well, not just to a crowd but to one person.

Learn to control your emotions rather than your emotions controlling you. It is the way to be more loving and thus, more like Christ.

We shall continue next time.

Love is not Self-Seeking

July 12, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through 1 Corinthians 13 lately and seeing what the Apostle Paul has to say about love. Tonight, I’d like us to look at the question of if love is self-serving.

This should be obvious to us and it could be something we want to deny because we come to realize how much we are not acting in love. How often is it that we are making suggestions for someone and while we want to act like we’re acting in their best interests, in our minds we’re thinking “This will work out really well for me if they do this.”

This is not to deny that there can be benefits for us if some people do some things, but the reasons we should seek for them to do those things should be the benefits that they will incur from the actions and not the benefits that we will incur. We can enjoy those benefits for us, but we should realize that if they get benefited and we don’t, well seeing them benefit should be our benefit.

Why isn’t it so often?

We Christians should realize that to grow in true biblical love is to grow closer to God. When we act in the loving way, we are acting in the way that He would have us to act.

In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas says that the man who says to his wife “I don’t love you and never really have” is not just a bad husband, but he is a bad Christian as well. For the Christian, love is not a choice. Love is a command. It should be what we are seeking to do. We cannot get up every day and say “Is it really to my benefit to love my neighbor today?” No. We get up and we love our neighbor. It is our choice only in the sense that we can choose to be obedient or not. It is not a choice in that God has given us no other options on how to act Christlike to our neighbor other than loving ones.

I get the Late Night jokes emailed to me regularly and before posting tonight, I read one from Jay Leno. While I know this was meant as a joke, I shared it with a friend of mine pointing out that this is something that could be said straight from the pulpit. Leno said the following:

“A right-wing religious group in Iowa is now asking all the Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge to remain faithful to their spouse. Isn’t that the marriage pledge?”

Yes. That’s indeed what it is. That was the covenant made before God and men that a spouse is to abide by. I can often look at my wedding ring, which is of course on my hand as I type, and think about that awesome responsibility that I have taken on, which is hard for our society to recognize seeing as we don’t like the word responsibility. The problem is always someone else’s fault or we are someone else’s responsibility. There are some things we cannot do on our own and there are ways we can help each other, but let us seek to do what we can on our own.

That could be one reason many marriages have difficulties that drive them apart. To be sure, all marriages will have difficulties. It’s how we face them. The Mrs. and I have had several difficulties from surgery to finances to deaths in the family. We’ve made it through based on the devotion we have to one another. A statement I made to a counselor was one that he replied with by telling me that if more couples realized it, they wouldn’t need marriage counseling. I told him that when things don’t seem to be going my way and the Mrs. is acting in ways I can think of as hurtful, I keep in mind two things. First, that she loves me. Second, that she would never do anything to intentionally maliciously hurt me.

Do I do that perfectly always? Doubtful. But I try.

Our society tempts us to have us think that if we have problems, well the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. However, if a person cannot be trusted to be faithful to the one they have now, why should they be trusted to be faithful to anyone? (This is not saying there are no biblical grounds for the sadness of divorce such as a spouse who has been cheated on or is being abused)

The problem is we’re largely self-seeking. We seek to do things for ourselves. If the other is not making us happy, well we move on because it’s all about our happiness. Instead, we do not seek to make the other happy and realize that our happiness should largely consist in making them happy.

Jennifer Roback Morse in her book “Smart Sex” talks of a marriage therapist for women who had women come to her complaining about their husbands. “He doesn’t help with house work.” “He doesn’t help with the kids.” “He just watches TV all day.” The therapist gave them the exercise of going home and seducing their husbands for two weeks. The women scoffed at this thinking it absolute nonsense, but nevertheless, some tried it.

When they came back, the results were astounding. “He cleaned up the whole house.” “He was actually reading to the kids at night.” “We’ve never spend such great time together.” The women before could have been saying “Why isn’t my husband doing what I want him to do to provide for my happiness?” instead of asking “What can I do for the happiness of my husband?”

It’s also important for the two to understand what they mean with their terms and actions such as the love languages. My wife loves quality time for instance. If I’m just in the same room with her, she considers that as something special. She can be quite happy watching me play through a Final Fantasy game or if we play Samurai Warriors together.

For myself, my language is physical touch and so I prefer to get to be held by her. Both ways of love are okay. It is not right or wrong. It’s just different. Couples need to learn this about each other. Don’t just look at what you would want someone to do to you that would be loving. Look and say “What will the other person find loving from their perspective?” I could say “I would love to get a good book on apologetics, so I’ll get her one and that’ll go over well!”

Not a chance.

Neither would her buying me a sketchbook and some pencils for artwork go over well. We have different interests. Men and women in every other area know this. Women do not order flowers for their men usually. Men do not bring home hunting knives normally for their women.

Wouldn’t it just be great if we could all get outside of ourselves and stop looking for ways that others can please us, but ways that we can please others. Could it be that we might have a more biblical love then? Could it be that we might actually start to look like Christ on Earth?

Wouldn’t it be worth it?

Love is not Rude

July 11, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through 1 Corinthians 13 lately and tonight, we’re going to be talking about how love is not rude.

Keep in mind that the kind of love Paul is talking about here is that which is needed in the Corinthian church, which will result in unity. It is group cohesion. Paul himself was blunt with those outside the church as were the church fathers. A quite amusing piece is found in Against Heresies by Irenaeus where Polycarp is approached by the heretic Marcion and Marcion asks “Do you know who I am?” and Polycarp answers “I do know thee. You’re the firstborn of Satan.”

In the ancient world, honor and shame were everything. It meant a great deal to give honor where honor is due and shame would have meant being outcast from the community, which would essentially result in a loss of your identity. When one reads Plutarch, one can regularly hear about ostracism, which was a common punishment. To be banished from the city meant great shame. The epistle to the Hebrews is dealing with a group of Christians who are not yet experiencing physical persecution, but are experiencing shame, which is bad enough.

You were expected to be attached to a group and your identity came from that group. Jesus’s apostles were recognized by Jesus. What I mean by that is that what they did was a reflection of Jesus and their loyalty was to be with Him. By being an apostle, they were putting their honor on the line by tying it to His and saying that whatever He did they were supporting. If Jesus was against the Pharisees, so were they. If He was against the Sadducees, so were they. The same was true in reverse. If the Sanhedrin was against Jesus…

By the way, the same should be for Jesus’s own followers today. For those who did not believe in the resurrection, to identify oneself with Jesus was to identify oneself with the crucified Messiah. It was identifying with one who opposed the Jewish worship system and was under God’s curse, in the eyes of the Jews, whereas in the eyes of the Romans, it was identifying oneself with a traitor to Rome.

Neither were good positions to be in.

Honor was something to be sought, but you also did not seek to take honor from one who rightfully had it. If your honor was challenged, you had to defend yourself against the challenge or else you lost the honor you’d earned. This was what was going on when Jesus had challenges with the Pharisees and Sadducees and others. These were more than just an attempt to stump Jesus, but rather an attempt to shame him in the eyes of the audience.

Shame was what all dreaded, and that’s why I have this entry. The idea of love not being rude will not be as sensible outside of that context. We live in a culture where if the group doesn’t want to go our way, then fine. We’ll just go our own way. Our identity tends to come from us. We work on having self-esteem. (I recommend Don Matzat’s book on Christ-esteem instead. We all say our identity comes from God but then try to find it in ourselves.)

The call to not be rude means to not seek to lower the honor of those who have rightfully earned it. It would be an end to one-upmanship. Considering this is a church where everyone was interested in showing that they were more spiritual than everybody else, this is an important message.

Fortunately, that idea doesn’t exist in the church today.

No way. We don’t go around putting on our best Christian faces. We don’t refer to each other as brother and sister one day a week and then forget each other the rest of the week. We don’t talk about our rich prayer lives or our great Bible studies. When you meet us, what you see is what you get.

Doesn’t sound accurate? Didn’t think so.

In that light, when we try to cover up everything and try to be as spiritual as possible, we are actually not being loving. Now some of you may have rich prayer lives and you may find more often than the rest of us great insights in Scripture. God bless you. If not, don’t try to act like you do. A lot of you may think God is communicating with you every day and you have great peace with what’s going on in your life entirely. Watch it. What picture do you think could be being presented to immature Christians or younger ones period who wonder “Well what is wrong with me if my life isn’t like that?”

So there’s a couple at church that is driving to church and having an argument and they’re furious with one another, but they walk into the church and all of a sudden they’re fine and at peace with the world and are telling everyone about how good God is. Then they leave, get in the car, immediately start the argument again, go home and separate themselves from one another and don’t resolve the issue.

Because, well, we know they just couldn’t admit a problem at church. They might be…JUDGED!

No. I’m not one of those people who will quote Matthew 7:1 regularly. There is definitely a time and place for judging. However, a judging that makes people think they have to be hypocrites in church or else not be good Christians is not the kind of judging we need. Do note that sinners were able to come to Christ as sinners. If sinners are not able to come to the church as sinners, then can we really say that we are representing Christ to the world?

What would it mean if we could come to church and someone say “Church. I am really struggling with alcohol. I get drunk regularly. Can you help me?” or “I have been battling internet pornography for a long time. I just don’t know how to handle this,” or “My husband and I are constantly arguing and it’s really hurting the kids. Can anyone help us?”

And then what would it mean if the church actually helped?

Why, things could be different couldn’t they? We could come to church and be real people and get real help and we don’t have to shame those people who seem less Christian than we are, all the while realizing that we want someone to help us out in our own struggles.

Maybe we could even have people think they’re coming to people who are really Christlike. After all, Christ didn’t put on a spiritual face. When he wept, he wept. When he was happy, he was happy. What you saw was what you got.

When it comes to people in the church who are successful meanwhile, celebrate it. If you want to be in that position, work for it. We have already covered envy and this would be included. Do not begrudge someone the position that they’ve worked for if they do indeed rightfully hold it. (I do happen to think there are many pastors who have no business being pastors unfortunately and this can only result in the harm of the church.)

Give honor where honor is due and respect where it is due. The church is called to be a body. When the body attacks its own, it will not survive. The body cares for its wounded. The church has been described as one of the only institutions that shoots its wounded. Let’s change that.

We shall continue next time.

Love Is Not Proud

July 9, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through lately 1 Corinthians 13 and seeing what Paul has to say about love. Tonight, we’re going to look at the topic of “Love is proud.”

Pride. That’s a big one isn’t it? Some of us will say we don’t struggle with it and those who say they don’t could be the ones most likely to. Any time we sin, ultimately at heart it is the sin of pride. It is trying to find a good for ourselves outside of God. We are saying that our idea of the good is better than God’s idea.

A few years ago a Garfield movie came out. It was a good movie that I happen to own on DVD and if you remember, the main ad for that movie was one that fit Garfield to a T with him saying “It’s all about me.” Of course, in the movie, he ultimately found out it wasn’t all about him as he risked all he had to save his friend Odie.

For a lot of people however, that was an all too real idea. Too many people who were wearing the T-shirts that said “It’s all about me” did seem to personify that. We have been referred to as the “Me generation.” People are constantly looking out for what’s in it for them. I won’t deny that I’m just as guilty.

Today, we have an idea that the word exists for our happiness. A friend of mine in ministry told once of how his wife answered the door one day to find some Jehovah’s Witnesses and they asked her “Do you think God wants you to be happy?” to which the wife said “No.” This left the Witnesses flummoxed immediately. That answer isn’t in the book!

There was a lot of truth to what she said. Now God does want us to be happy in the sense that He truly wants our good. He does not want us to be happy in the way that many modern Americans view happiness. He does not simply want us to have warm fuzzies or always feel good about ourselves. Nothing wrong with these in themselves, but there is something wrong with making that the goal.

Our idea of happiness however usually means that we’ll be happy when the universe bends to our desires. A lot of the things that really frustrate us are things that don’t go our way. Our lives do not go according to the script that we had written up. Perhaps we should heed the advice of that great philosopher Mick Jagger who said “You can’t always get what you want.” (Though keep in mind, he also said that sometimes you get what you need.)

Just look at a lot of things that make you angry. Are they really worth getting angry over? Does the universe have to bend to your desires? Was it supposed to work out that that person in front of you at the check-out line would not question the price of every item they got? Was it required of the world that you not get behind someone going slow on the road?

What if instead we sought the joy in the other for the other? Consider how many times this can happen in marriage? My wife and I can think about couples who we have heard complaining. The husband will say “Well why don’t I get more sex from my wife?” The wife will say “It would be nice if he would help me out around the house a little bit!” Both of these could have some valid ideas. Both likely make the same mistake. The husband says “Well if she doesn’t give me what I want, why should I be expected to help with the house?” and she says “Why should I be romantic for him if he’s not willing to do anything to help me out around here?”

Yes. Why should any of you do that?

Because you’re in a covenant of love to seek the best of the other even if the other isn’t seeking your best in your eyes.

For husbands, if they will work to help even just a little bit with the housework and taking care of kids and such for their wife, their wives will see this as greatly loving and really thinking of you and when that happens, the wife will be more prone to think of her husband and want him more.

For the wife, if you are having this kind of problem with your husband, take the advice that a marriage therapist in Jennifer Roback Morse’s book “Smart Sex” gives. Spend two weeks seducing your husband. Really seek to give him what he wants. Wives left the therapist thinking she had to be crazy, but when they gave their husbands what their husbands wanted, they were shocked at the men that suddenly showed up in their lives. Their husbands were helping with the housework and getting the kids to bed and being romantic as well!

Now this doesn’t mean that you seek to please each other so that you can get what you want, as tempting as that can be. I have to remember that if I bring home flowers for the Mrs. one day, she’s not obligated to please me the way I want to be pleased. What kind of gesture would it be to get angry thinking “I did this for you and you did not get give me what I want!” That instead would show a very shallow love. Instead, the giving of the flowers is its own reward. If it leads to something more, great. If not, I should make it a point to delight in the fact that I was able to do something good for my wife.

Doing good for the other will make you draw yourself out of your world, which is where we are in pride. We get so caught up in ourselves that it is hard to see the perspective of the other and realize that the other person really does have good reasons for acting how they do and it is not a giant conspiracy on their part to annoy you.

Annoy. That’s a good word isn’t it? Most of what goes against our pride is not stuff that is really wrong or harmful. It’s more something that is annoying. Hearing the kid cry while you’re trying to take a nap or watch your favorite TV show might be annoying, but is it really something to get angry over? Does the kid owe you that time, especially if they’re too young to understand?

And what happens? You make your judgment that is temporal the final and eternal judgment and you keep feeding that negative idea. You form one negative concept in your mind and it grows and grows. It’s not enough when you see the original premise that created that idea blown out of the water. The damage is still done. Why? You started with yourself as the ultimate judge instead of God.

While I have gone after presuppositionalism on this blog, let us keep in mind that it is certainly true that all truth is God’s truth. As my pre-marital counselor told me about these struggles, it comes down to “What is truth?” It’s apologetics. The answer is not how you feel at the moment, but what is true. You need to work through how you feel to an extent, but you can’t expect a certain feeling to show up. Would God take what you are thinking at this moment and say “Yes. That is true.” If he would not, then it is not true.

And with God, wouldn’t that be a good one to lose your world in? Why not spend more time focusing on His world instead of your own? Why not seek His love instead? If you are tempted to focus on the wrongs that are done against you, why not think instead of the wrongs you’ve done against Him? See His great love for you and seek to have that kind of love for others.

Reality won’t go your way. So what? You think you’re supposed to be writing the script. Besides, the world would not be as enjoyable with our scripts. It’s those little things that often interrupt the main act that can be the most entertaining. Remember the Romans 8 passage and that while you may not like what is going on, God is able to shape it for your good. Why not trust Him to do so?

We shall continue next time.