Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Christian love

We live in a society in which love and lust are often regarded to be more or less synonymous.  Love is often defined primarily in terms of a feeling or desire for someone or something.  In reaction to this I have sometimes found myself trying to define love more in terms of actions than feelings.  I would argue that it is something that acts in others interests rather than one’s own.  John 3:16 provides one of a number of biblical examples of such love.  ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.’   I have been tempted to go further and argue that this on its own is the sum and substance of love – that it is a sacrificial giving to others rather than any feeling or desire.

1 Corinthians 13 however gives short shrift to such a reductionistic view of christian love.  ‘If I give all I possess to feed the poor but do not have love it profits me nothing.’  If it’s possible to give in a sacrificial way without love then it is clear that sacrificial giving as a definition of love is rather inadequate.

Christian love it seems is much more than just a desire or feeling but it is also more than sacrificial service.  When it says in Genesis that Jacob loved Rachael it seems that he desired her and found her very attractive.  However the text also says that ‘because’ he loved her he didn’t mind giving up 14 years of his life working for her father to obtain her hand in marriage.  Love desires its object and willingly sacrifices for it.

In a sense the relationship between love and sacrifice is a bit like the relationship between faith and works.  A person can have works without faith but they can’t have a living faith without works (James 2).  Likewise a person may act sacrificially without love but they cannot love without acting sacrificially.

So what should we do if we’re having trouble loving someone, say a family member or someone at work or church?  Once upon a time I would have said we should serve the other person no matter how we feel and in time our feelings will come into line.  But unless our hearts are changing as we repent and look to Jesus our feelings may not change.  We love, not by a sheer act of the will against our feelings, but in response to God’s love for us in Jesus.  As we meditate on what Christ has done for us while we were still his enemies and we ask for him to change us, it becomes harder and harder to maintain bitter feelings towards others.


Suffering – A Personal Story CCEF

Joni – by Joni Eareckson Tada

I want to give a plug here for Joni Eareckson Tada’s well-known autobiography for anyone who may not have read it. Many Christian biographies paint unrealistic portraits of Christian lives that can actually leave one discouraged.  So many are about great preachers or church leaders – something few of us will ever be.  They tell us about their Sunday nights but rarely their monday mornings.  The beauty of this biography, outlining the spiritual journey of a young quadriplegic, is that it provides a profound testimony to the way  God’s power is made known through weakness.

Joni is refreshingly honest in the way she shares her story.   She humbly describes her pain, despair and struggles with sin.  Consequently she testifies to the glory of God, who has ‘put this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves.’

Here is a little appetiser from the preface in Joni’s own words:

What happened on July 30, 1967, was the beginning of an incredible adventure that I feel compelled to share because of  what I have learned.

Oscar Wilde wrote:  “In this world there  are only two tragedies.   One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”  To rephrase his thought I suggest there are only two joys.  One is having God answer all our prayers; the other is not receiving the answer to all your prayers.  I believe this because I have found that God knows my needs infinitely better than I know them.  And He is utterly dependable no matter which direction our circumstances take us.

Be still, be calm

Be still, be calm, don’t be afraid,
The mighty Christ is here;
He once was dead but now he lives
And conquers ev’ry fear.

Though Satan roars and prowls about,
His days are nearly done;
He held us down in fear of death
But Christ has overcome.

Come now rejoice, don’t be afraid
For death has lost its sting,
The grave has lost its victory
The Prince of Peace is King.

Consider it true joy

Consider it true joy
Whenever trials come,
Through suff’ring God shall etch in us
The likeness of his Son.

He wounds that he may heal,
Brings pain to bring relief;
Destroys our pride to strengthen faith,
To quell our unbelief.

The testing of our faith
Will teach us to endure;
And through endurance God shall make
A life complete and pure.

So let us not lose heart,
These pains so brief and light
Are working an eternal weight
Of glory and delight.