Saturday, February 13, 2010

Speaking of Love

I was reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer this morning and came across this; It totally blew me away. I had just posted on love yesterday and was praying about what love means. This is such a powerful passage. I hope it goes deep with you!

"Jesus Christ stands between the lover and the others he loves. I do not know in advance what love of others means on the basis of the general idea of love that grows out of my human desires-all this may rather be hatred and an insidious kind of selfishness in the eyes of Christ. What love is, only Christ tells in his Word.
Contrary to all my own opinions and convictions, Jesus Christ will tell me what love toward the brethren really is. Therefore, spiritual love is bound solely to the Word of Jesus Christ. Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it.
Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for loves sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love.

Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and his Word.

Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above; it is something completely strange, new and incomprehensible to all earthly love.
Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such as what that I may be saved, so others too, can be saved only by Christ himself.

This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence from me; to be loved for what he is, as one for who Christ became man, died and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I could begin to act, I must leave him to his freedom to be Christ's; I must meet him only as the person that he already is in Christ's eyes.

This is the meaning of the proposition that we can meet others only through the mediation of Christ. Human love constructs its own image of the other person, of what he is and what he should become. It takes the life of the other person into its own hands.

Spiritual love recognizes the true image of the other person which has has received from Jesus Christ; that image that Jesus Christ himself embodied and would stamp upon all men.
Therefore, Spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interferences in the life of another.
It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him him again in order that Christ may heal with him.

It will respect the line that hes been drawn between him and us by Christ, and it will find full fellowship with him in the Christ who alone binds us together.
Thus this spiritual love will speak more to Christ about a brother than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ and that love of others is wholly dependent upon the truth of Christ. It is out of this love that John the disciple speaks "I have no greater jot than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4)

Human love lives by uncontrolled and uncontrollable dark desires; spiritual love lives in the clear light of service ordered by the truth.
Human love produces subjection, dependence, constraint; spiritual love creates freedom of the brethren under the Word.
Human love breeds hothouse flowers;spiritual love creates the fruits that grows heartily in accord with God's good will in the rain and storm and sunshine of God's outdoors.
The existence of any Christian life together depends on whether it succeeds at the right time in bringing about the ability to distinguish between a human ideal and God's reality, between spiritual and human community."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Life Together.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Lately I have been thinking a lot about change. There is so much change always swirling around me. At times I am so resistant of change. Let's face it...change is hard. Recently however, I am embracing, almost seeking change in my life. Change in my thoughts, change in my attitudes. I want so much to go to a new place in my head and my heart.

Life has been interesting these past 3 years. Lots of loss, lots of desert wanderings for me and lots of pain. I can say that God has been faithful through it all. I might not have always recognized that...but my acceptance of the truth does not change the fact that it is valid.

Now, I feel that God is calling me to more change and I am excited by the prospect. Already I can see that He has been moving me slowly, lovingly through all the turmoil of these past years.

Things that bothered me even 4 or 5 months ago have ceased to concern me...especially things such as what other people think of me, or if I am accepted or rejected.

I believe that the pruning that God has done in my life have made me have less fear of man. It is very freeing. I have to admit that I would not (then) have chosen to walk through the pain willingly...but now that I see the fruit, I believe that I will choose change again.

Now that I see what God had in store with each lesson, the loss no longer seems to matter to me. Funny how we hold so tightly to things, dreams and relationships that are not the best thing for us. I am very humbled and thankful that God truly holds the better plan for our lives.

One thing I see glaringly as I look at life through the filter of these changes, is the rampant insistence that I am somehow supposed to change others, or to win others over to a different belief systems. I am not even talking about witnessing to non-Christians. I am referring to believers and how we treat one another.

Everyone has an ideology, an opinion or a pet conviction that they are fervently sharing and defending. It is passion for our beliefs that makes our lives worth it not? It is the essence of being alive and being awake and aware that energizes me and encourages me.

I am all for standing up for what the Word of God teaches us. I am all for seeking a higher level in our walk.

It is when people take things that are "preference issues and make them into sin issues" (thanks Sara for that wording) that I draw the proverbial line in the sand, cross my arms and refuse to go any further. I admit that I can get very rebellious in those moments. This to me is when it is no longer about love.
It is when I see fellow brothers and sisters mocked, shamed and deserted for not lining up to these preferences that my heart breaks and my blood boils. In the back biting and obvious disdain that we show others...I am devastated.

How have we gotten so far from God's intentions for love? Why are we so threatened when someone does not believe exactly as we do about everything? Can someone else disagreeing with us, arguing with us....even shunning us for what we believe actually change it? If so...then we really do not hold that belief very dear, or take it very seriously to begin with.

I have been reading a lot of books on China lately, and some of the things that Mao did during the Cultural Revolution and the atrocoties that resulted from that. It all came down to Mao insisting that all of China line up with his beliefs and ideas no matter what the cost. Millions lost their lives, their freedom, their entire way of life. China was desemated by his policies and laws...culturally, financially and spiritually raped my their "Great Chairman".
No one was allowed to disagree with him about anything.
If I consider history carefully, great caution flags should go up in my heart when I see myself pushing my beliefs on others

When someone struggles, questions their faith or even out right commits a sin, why is it that we as the Body of Christ pick up our arms and attack them in their most vulnerable moments?

There were times that I questioned many things. Things that I had previously declared to be immovable beliefs. The very shadow of doubt crossing my mind caused me tremendous confusion and pain. It did not seem right to question.
It was in those dark moments that I looked around me and witnessed horror, hatred and fear on the faces around me. My doubt and pain seemed to elicit an extreme reaction in the minds of others.

Those terrible dark moments have passed, or a reprieve has been granted, in any case I am stronger for having walked through it. God is good, all the time.

It has left me with a softer approach to those who are grinning through their own pain and walking blindly in their own doubts and fears.

I have also learned a very valuable lesson on true love. When a brother or sister is suffering, hurting, running or sinning that is NOT the time for me to get on my high horse and lecture, preach, condemn or shame them back to the truth, be that my imagined truth or the real truth whichever I am consumed with in that moment.

My job is to love them.

I know I have said that before in previous blogs. What I am learning though it that I really have to mean it. I have to practice unconditional love even fill in the blanks.
Easier said than done. True love hurts. Ask Jesus about that.

True love means that we do not care if our beliefs are threatened (as if that were possible) if our feelings are hurt or if the receiver of our love is all together unworthy. Even if they never love us back., even if they never change. True love means that we give until it hurts and keep on going.

True love is one way. I give, 100% and expect nothing in return. True love means that I allow people to fall apart, question, rage or defy without assuming that they have walked away from God or from pursuing righteousness. Without somehow feeling superior to them. Looking down y nose from my mountain top...forgetting the very valley I just came through.

True love means that I give people the room to bump their heads, to grow and to change without stepping in with anything other than open arms and a pure heart toward them.
God help me!