Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Love Bears All Things; God Bears All things

The word in the original language provides a couple of pictures. One is “protect by covering.” I get the picture of someone standing under a roof in a storm. The rain is falling in buckets, but people under the roof are warm and dry.

The second picture is of something like a pillar. A structure that provides support, holding something else up, and not letting it fall.

Both pictures give a connotation of protection. One keeps the things of life from crashing down on people. The other provides support, enabling people to stand, and continue to go forward.

Love wants the success, the well-being, and the woleness of the people they are connected to. And God wants the success, well-being, and wholeness of all creation. Sin, the world, and life can overwhelm. God keeps what can overwhelm, and God supports each child so they can move forward.

God’s definition of success is different from the world’s. God seeks to establish a relationship with each human being, bring them into his family, and restore each one to his original design. To complete this version of success, among other things, God takes action so his children are not overwhelmed, and they can stand firmly with him. He directs. He encourages. He teaches.

Each child will inevitably fail. He protects his children, so failure does not become the end. He helps each one to his feet. He provides support, grace, and direction to move beyond it. He is firmly resolved to stand with each child to ensure success. We are all subject to falling and failing. We all need someone who has our back. We can stand and walk, because he is there holding us up.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Love Does Not Rejoice With Unrighteousness; God Does Not Rejoice With Unrighteousness

This trait of love is longer, because it has two parts. The parts are a comparison of a negative and a positive. “Love does not rejoice with unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” Or, in other words: “Love is not happy when bad stuff happens; love is happy when good stuff happens.”

 

The comparison is between unrighteousness and truth. God designed and created the world. He designed the way it should work. That is the truth. If the way things work agrees with the truth, that is good. If the way things work do not agrees with the truth, that is bad.

 

Righteousness is a word that refers to a person’s relationship with god. Before we chose allegiance to God, we made the de facto choice of allegiance with sin and the world. We are living in a state of unrighteousness.

 

When we choose allegiance to Jesus, the grace of Christ negates the penalty of sin, adopts us into the family of God, and declares us righteous. We have moved a long way back toward how we were designed to live. We agree with God. We agree with the truth.

 

God’s heart is that everyone would move here. God’s heart is that the universe would operate according to his design. Earthquakes, genocide, sex trafficking, environmental destruction, bullying, and left\right political bickering are not part of his design. They are not part of the truth. God did not create them. God did not orchestrate them. God is not happy when they happen … except for the hopeful possibility that someone sees these things, wakes up, and seeks him, embraces the truth, and chooses allegiance with God. God will rejoice in that aspect of it. God does not, and will not, rejoice in the misery and pain these things cause.

Love Does Not Keep a List of Wrongs Suffered; God Does Not Keep a List of Wrongs Suffered

Love forgives, so, of course, love does not keep grudges. So, God does not keep grudges. But the Father of All is also the Judge of All.

 

I have a faint memory of a Bible passage that says God keeps a record of our deeds. Most people associate that with a record of our wrongs. However, if my memory is correct, it is a record of our deeds – good and bad. Sill, God does not need a record of anything. He knows all things. He already knows our deeds. And he already knows that we are born in rebellion to him. We are already condemned without a single entry in any book.

 

As the Judge, who holds all the world accountable, he judges us based on our rebellion.

 

As the Father, who loves all, and wants a relationship with all, he forgives all those who give him allegiance, who become his children. He nailed our sins to the cross, and killed them. He says he will forget our sins.

 

If someone you love does something wrong to you, you probably do not forget it. But, for the sake of the loved one, for the sake of the relationship, you forgive, and put the wrong behind you. You treat the wrong as if it never happened.

 

It is impossible for the All-Knowing God to “un-know” something. But, he can choose to put our sins behind him, to treat them as if they never happened.

 

He “forgets” our sins for the sake of the child he loves, to restore his family, to renew the relationship. He views us through our position in Christ, and the sacrifice of Christ. He treats us according to the identity he has won, and proclaimed, for us: child, priest, ambassador. Dead, buried, raised and seated with Christ.

Love is Not Easily Angered; God is Not Easily Angered

We derive the English word “paroxysm” from the original word in this passage. A “paroxysm” is a “sudden, violent, emotion.” We are all acquainted with people who have short fuses. They respond to frustrated expectations by exploding.

Some people act as if the world exists to serve them. Fulfillment in life is getting everything one wants. It is all about winning, being first, and getting the most stuff. And when they don’t get what they want, they lose it. Their passions are in control.

God designed the perfect world. God designed perfect people. And, in an instance, it all came crashing down. He could have responded by throwing creation into the shredder. He is God. Creation does revolve around him. Instead, he chose to serve, to redeem, and to accept imperfect people, in an imperfect world.

The word describes someone who does not get his way. Frustrated expectations could result in disgust, and rejection. God chooses to engage, to press in. God embraces his imperfect creation, his plan, his mission, and his children.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Love Does Not Seek Its Own; God Does Not Seek His Own

Perhaps the primary trait of love is being “other-centered.” People do need to be concerned about themselves and their lives. Food. Shelter. Education. The children. Career. Retirement. All things we need to be involved in. And all things that may require work, study, and prayer.

Still, love is able to separate itself, and its concerns, from itself. Love is not chained to its needs. It can even surrender its needs for the needs of another.

God is totally self-sufficient. His needs are already, totally, and entirely met. He could be concerned with his image. (And sometimes he is.) He could be concerned with running his kingdom. (And sometimes he is.)

God’s people have, at time, misrepresented him. The have given the world a false picture of who he is. God has decreed certain laws in his kingdom. His people have broken, ignored, misrepresented, and even substituted other laws. So, he could focus on painting a correct picture. He could focus on reinforcing his laws. Instead, he focuses on his mission.

God’s mission:
  • To create a spiritual family.
  • To establish, and practice a relationship with each children in his family.
  • To complete a renovation project in each child, so each child is living as he was designed.

God designed and created each one of us to live in his family, to have a relationship with him, and to live in a certain way. God’s design is general – he wants each one to live in love, in community, in relationship. God’s design is specific – he wants some to be teachers, some craftsmen, some to intercede, etc. For each of us to realize our place might not be easy for any number of reason. But, this is also part of God’s renovation.

God’s mission, and therefore, God’s heart focus, is about people. He gives 100% focused attention on each person. God is 100% other-centered, and 0% self-centered.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Love Behaves Properly; God Behaves Properly

The word in the original language can be translated "without proper shape or form." It has been rendered in English as: unseemly, improperly, and rude. It reminds me of someone trying to put a round peg into a square hole.

All societies and cultures have "rules" about what is appropriate behavior in different circumstances. For example, it would not be considered proper to proclaim (loudly) a person's failures, weaknesses, or deficiencies at his funeral. Nor would it be appropriate to climb on a table, and dance, at that same funeral. All sorts of "rules" are developed to give guidance to all sorts of behaviors: greetings, how to address, eating, and passing through another's personal space. Not following these rules is making a statement about one's attitude towards other people, their worth, their capacity, and ranking. Not following the rules says "You're nothing," "I'm better than you," and "I'm more important."

Jesus came, and assumed the form and life of a human being. He did this, so he could be the perfect representative of all human kind, and, as that representative, satisfy God's justice for the rest of the human race.

And in this coming, by and of itself, God proclaims in a loud voice, that people have worth, people have value. He proclaims his love, and that he will do all that is within his power to bring people home.

There is a passage in the Bible that says, if God acted and went so far as to guarantee that God's justice will be satisfied for us (in other words, he has already done the hardest, most painful thing for us) it is a piece of cake for him to do all the lesser things.

God will always act properly towards us. He will always put a square peg in a square hole.

Some people will point out that Jesus did not always treat the Pharisees appropriately. The Pharisees were so certain that there perspective on the truth was correct, they were not willing to consider alternatives. God wants relationship with everyone ... even the Pharisees. So, Jesus went beyond appropriate to shake them into seeing things in a new way. Normally, one does not push a stranger violently out of the way. It is not appropriate. But what if the stranger was about to get run over by a car?

If one of God's children is willing to listen, willing to change, willing to learn, God will always treat them properly. And the choice to give allegiance to Jesus demonstrates that willingness. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love is Not Proud; God is Not Proud

The word for “proud” or “arrogant” in the original language is derived from a world meaning “puffed up” or “inflated.” Such a person sees himself as bigger than he really is.

He compares himself with those around him, and he is more and he has more. The arrogant always put themselves on top.

Love avoid comparison. Love knows its own failings. And if it does compare, it is ruthlessly honest. Because it sees its own failings, it does not consider itself better.

God is, of course, perfect. He is on top. He could look down on the rest of us. But he does not.

The incarnation demonstrates God’s attitude. God could have chosen to remain aloof. He could have stayed in heaven … looking down. Instead, he waded out into the sea of humanity. He got down on our level. He sat on the floor with the children.

Pride\arrogance separates. Love mixes. Love gets involved. And God got involved enough to actually become a person, and restore our lost relationship, and our lost design. God chose to reclaim his family, after that family turned on him.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Love Does Not Boast; God Does Not Boast

Love does not boast. The picture Scripture attempts to paint is a person, who seek to draw attention to himself by underlining his accomplishments and assets. Perhaps with considerate exaggeration.

Love does not need to be the center of attention. Love focuses outward, toward others.

Boast does speaking about one’s accomplishments equal boasting? Does Michael Phelps boast when he tells someone: “I won multiple Olympic God medals in swimming at the Olympics.” ?

Speaking the truth about accomplishments does not always constitute boasting. Love does not boast, therefore, God does not boast. But he is the Creator, the Redeemer. In him, all things hold together. He is the center.

People are designed to find meaning, worth, value and significance within a love relationship with God.

God is not jealous. But he says to us: “I made you for a relationship with me. You are seeking meaning and significance with all these other things, that will only leave you empty. You will only find heart fulfillment with me alone.”

God is not boastful. But he says: “I am the all-Knowing. I am the All-Powerful. I am the Ever Present. It is in me that you will find meaning and significance. It is in me that you will find rest, and real love.”

Because he is the Creator, the Designer, and the Center of All, there are difference in how he practices love, and how we practice love. Like some people, God can proclaim great and marvelous accomplishments. And he is simply proclaiming facts.

It is the nature of the upside down spiritual kingdom, that if we seek to put ourselves in the center, we pursue selfishness, and avoid love. If God puts himself in the center, he pursues love, making himself available, and is adopting a servant’s mind-set.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Love is not jealous; God is not jealous (or is he?)

The word in the original language generally means “having a strong, passionate emotion.” And when used intransitively is generally translated “jealous.” So, love is not jealous, therefore, God is not jealous. But God says “I am a jealous God.” This is a little confusing.

 

To put this into perspective, the word for “jealous” in the statement “I am a jealous God:”

·         It is only used of God.

·         It is only used six times.

·         It is only used in the Pentateuch.

·         It is only used after Israel leave Egypt.

 

Israel, during a time of famine, moved to live in Egypt. And they stayed 400 years. The learning, the culture, the philosophy, and the theology of Egypt seeped into Israel. They had upwards of 80 gods. It was alright to serve one, or all of them. And Israel had (unconsciously?) absorbed this concept and attitude. And it affected their practice.

 

Our Father is not just one god out of many. He is the only, true Creator and Father of All. And God needed to correct this type of thinking. And he used “jealous” to bump Israel out of its lethargic, lazy thinking.

 

God designed people for a love relationship with him. People thrive best when they flow with their design, and embrace that relationship.

 

“Jealousy” is generally understood as (a) seeing that somebody has something good, (b) wanting that something for yourself. “Love” is wanting the best for someone. It is the opposite of jealousy.

 

If God is “jealous”, it is because he wants people to embrace a love relationship with him … for which they have been designed for, for which life is best if they accept that relationship. So God is “jealous”, because he wants our best.