2.Love, Love, Love, Love, Love: Love that does not quit.

2 12 2010

(I am blogging on the book “The Bait of Satan” by John Bevere. This post reflects on Chapter 2 of the book)

The author refers to two kinds of love in this chapter: Phileo (friendship) and Agape (God’s unconditional, extravagant, reckless love). When we love one another with phileo love, it stands to reason that we love with expectations of returned friendship. It stands to reason we have conditions; friendship is conditional. When we love with phileo love, it is easy to become offended because it is a self-serving love ultimately – even when we are nice about it. Phileo love is a love that can run cold. I wonder, how many people do I love with this kind of love?

Interesting that the Bible says the day will come when MANY will be offended, and MANY will have their love grow cold (Matthew 24:10-13). Can’t you just feel the “death” in this verse? The loss?  Doesn’t the word MANY make you wonder where you are in all of this? Phileo love runs on batteries; it isn’t limitless. I see this. I have experienced this. I am afraid of this and wonder how much of my love is or has been this susceptible to decay. I wonder how much of my love has been as easy to quench. The author says, “We set ourselves up for offense when we require certain behaviors from those with whom we have relationships. The more we expect, the greater the potential offense” (12).

But when we sow God’s love, Agape love, our whole pattern of thinking and behavior changes. This is a love that DOES NOT QUIT. It is “not based on performance or even whether it is returned. It is a love that gives even when rejected” (10). The love of God is the love a person can share without any personal expectations about someone: “anything given is a blessing and not something owed” (11).

Am I the only one who needs to pause here and think about this? This isn’t exactly “new” but it is really hard. If I am honest, I don’t know how to love without any expectations because the closer one becomes to someone, the more invested I am and the more I feel connected to another person and come to need them (need, therein lies a problem). Jesus loved “freely” and there is something about that “free” word I can’t quite get my head around. The more invested I am, the harder I fall when that person closes a door on me (how do you not take that personally?).

Listen to what the author says: “Unconditional love gives others the right to hurt us” (12). THE RIGHT. You have to step back from this statement to see it. Isn’t this how Jesus loved? Hasn’t He given us all the right to hurt Him? This shouts at me: “Do you believe that!? Are you willing to do that!?” I see Jesus with his arms stretched out on that cross, bare chest open to the crowd. Unable to cover his ears. No ability to hide. Jesus understood loving people completely uncovered, without any protective walls. 

This is who we are, this is what we do typically:

“We construct walls when we are hurt to safeguard our hearts and prevent any future wounds. We become selective, denying entry to all we fear will hurt us. We filter our anyone we think owes us something. We withhold access until these people have paid their debts in full. We open our lives only to those we believe are on our side” (12)

God, I need surgery to be this way. I need you to overhaul my mind.

As Proverbs 18:19 says, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city…” and don’t I know it. You can’t try to lead a community called a Church without living this reality day after day, year after year. This busts me up inside. It is so hard for people to come together when they are offended. Offense wins…can I say every? Pretty much every time.

The author says, if more people loved in the Agape way we are called to they “wouldn’t give up” and become offended. We would love without the same expectations as Christ and bless as Christ did without the feeling that we are owed something. We wouldn’t have requirements; rather we would have a passionate desire to work as hard as we can work to have the “one another” kind of unity. This is the love we are asked to spread. This is the light of the world…can’t you see it? It is truly amazing and truly counter- intuitive.

But what happens is, we don’t love this way. We do exactly what Jesus asked us not to do: we become self-seeking. We become offended. Matthew 24:10 says “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” The “one another” that Jesus envisioned deteriorates into this atmosphere of shallowness, mistrust, gossip and betrayal; our offenses lead us to discard one another with hardly a thought. With a feeling we are right; that it is our right. We take our lives into our own hands. We begin to make our own decisions and assertions and judgments against man and God.

“These strongholds create set patterns of reasoning through which all incoming information is processed. Although they were originally erected for protection, they become a source of torment and distortion because they  war against the knowing or knowledge of God” (13)

This statement really grabbed me: the patterns of reasoning I have set through which ALL information is processed. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In my journal today I prayed, “change my pattern of reasoning” and as I think about this, it is quite the task for the Holy Spirit. I am 42 and there is the tendency for me to be “set in my ways,” but I fear that more than anything. I know who I want to be; I have it locked in my mind – the tree of Isaiah 61:3b.

God, create in me that kind of spirit, the kind that gets it about Agape love, beyond all offense.

— Teresa Klassen




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