Have Not Love

There is a longer post on this subject that’s been in the works for a long time.  It has been the missing ingredient in my spiritual feeding, as it were, and until God put me on this meditation I’ve been on, I never took love with the degree of importance that God seems to be underlining in my life.

This post may not seem to apply to the subject of his blog, but it will.  Future posts will make the connections.

1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love

 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

When the time comes to go, and if anyone cares to discuss it with me, they will ask me where we diverged and I will point to I Corinthians, then this:

Matthew 25:31-46 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me,  I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Ever since I read a pastor’s commentary and he mentioned the difference between heat and light, it’s helped me see things so clearly.  At my church, we are known for a bit of “in your face” preaching style.  Our pastors aren’t afraid to “tell it like it is.”  Heat.

But is there light?  If we preach the Word without preaching about God’s love (because soft words make for a hard people, don’t you know?) then are we preaching the entirety of the gospel?  If we emphasize the cross without emphasizing Christ’s life as a man or his resurrection and Ascension, are we doing anyone any favor?  Are we preaching the heat without the light?  If we are serious about the love of Christ, doesn’t that mean the child will look like the Father?  Do we?  Do any of us?  I read this weekend that the culture war is going to heat up in this country like we’ve never seen before.  Gay men and women in this country need to put on a cup because it’s going to get seriously ugly soon.  The gay marriage decision in California was apparently the last straw for somebody and now, under the guise of scriptural imperative, if we don’t know gay marriage is the worst sin you could possibly commit (according to fellow Christians, but certainly not the Bible) then you’re gonna hear it soon.  And often.  And loud.

Heat without light.  Or as I Corinthians so succinctly puts it:  nothing.  NOTHING.

Yes, the answer here is that it is entirely possible to preach the heat with the light; to say the hard things that need to be said to a lost and dying world and to say them in love.  There is a longer bit on the various forms of love coming in a later post, but it suffices here to say that not every form of love is warm and fuzzy.  Sometimes you need to let fly with the heat because of the light.  Because of the love.  Because you know what’s coming and how bad hell is going to be and because of love, you don’t want people to go there.  It’s just that for so long and in too many places these days we have been heat without light.  There is no love as context for the heat.  Without that love, we have no foundation on which to stand.  I believe with increasing seriousness that you must set the foundation of love, to get people to understand the epic, awe-inspiring nature of God’s love for His people.  You must try to plumb the unfathomable, to set the passions of Jesus for his people before you can understand the nature of Hell and the unwaivering certainty of what it means to be lost for all eternity and how much God sacrificed to keep his creation from that fate.

I don’t want to be the guy without that foundational love.  I fear becoming that guy, I fear I’ve been that guy.  The guy who has more heat than light.   No more.  God help me find your heart again, closer, in a more meaningful way.  I don’t want to be the guy that hammers the heat of your Word without the light of your grace, mercy and love.  I don’t know how to do that, really.  Maybe it’s just found in being even more honest and open with people.  Maybe it starts in the humility of brokenness and cluelessness that we all find ourselves in from time to time.  Maybe that’s a start.  Maybe it’s enough to say yes, I’m trying to figure it all out too, but God’s here and he’s done so much for me along the journey.  Maybe it’s in the feeding, visiting, blessing, clothing, comforting and loving of Matthew 25.  I don’t really know for sure, but those seem like the best places where I can start.

More on this soon.  (You’ve been warned.  Heh.)  Prayer list later today.


UPDATE:  Naturally, after making such statements about “in your face preaching” and a love-lite way of being in my church, the pastor launches a brilliant sermon on prayer during the darkest times, based on Jesus’s Gethsemene prayer.  It was rough and difficult and taught so lovingly, I wondered if I was in the same church.  We are changing at my church, yes we are, but there are still issues with what we say and what we do.  We still don’t look much like the Father, but with today’s sermon, I have hope that God will bring us further into looking like Him.  I know it has to start with my changing the man in the mirror.  God can deal with the rest.  His will be done.

~ by WriterRand on August 3, 2008.

2 Responses to “Have Not Love”

  1. I’m looking forward to the rest of this. I really just don’t understand the Religious Right and their “culture war.” Yes, we are in a war, but it is spiritual, and it is within ourselves. I’ve been blessed to know some great Christians in my lifetime, and when I say great I mean GREAT. True giants of faith and love and humility, and I can never imagine any of them saying things that these “culture warriors” say. I can’t imagine them supporting this “war” at all. Can we all just focus on the people we know? Our friends and neighbors? It’s so easy to preach through legislation because it’s all votes and paperwork, and no real love is involved.

    I pray God will turn their hearts to be loving. Again, I’m looking forward to the rest of this.

  2. Dear Sir:

    I find your writing fascinating. I am new to Conservative thought. I have long been one of “those” women, “hags”, that are more comfortable w/gay men than straight. I know this is wrong. I have long felt that Gay people should have the option of trying therapy to see if they can go straight.

    While I am not reading well today, due to a bad eye problem, I am wondering if you are one of those Christians who is trying to go “straight”? I think that is wonderful and I pray you have the strength to keep going. I do personally know gay men now leading happy lives, in spite of so much negative publicity, one-gay men now leading happy, normal family lives. I hope your story gets out there.

    G*d bless you, Sir! I went Conservative primarily because I am a Zionist Jew and I can’t support the anti-semetic Jimmy Carter & his followers. There are dark clouds on the Liberal sky for Jewish people. Most learn that anti-Israel does mean Anti-Jewish. I am coming to really respect the Christians United for Israel, most of them are decent people who know what struggle means. Very different from the media of trailor trash bible-spouters that had been painted!

    Bless you sir. Keep brining in the light & blend it with the heat.

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