General statements such as, 'Love (or compassion) creates movement', 'Love is an action' and 'Love is a verb' are selling points across most pulpits every Sunday morning, as the head cheerleader attempts to motivate the crowd into “doing more”. My purpose for writing is not to motivate you into doing more but to look at the preceding statements and explore them further while hopefully helping you look past the normal talking points about Love as an action, to better discern and understand our neighbors real needs.
“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:
Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” Hebrews 5:1,2
If 'Love (or compassion) is an action', in my mind, it leaves some questions begging to be asked and answered:
- "Specifically, what actions are Love?", or
- "Who decides if what I call Love is the standard?", or
- "Who decides if what you call Love is the standard?"
These questions are asked with certain presumptions, which are either aligned with God's purposes or not. They're either coming from a premise which is temporal (not eternal) or revealing His purpose.
Just like words without Love are like a clanging noise (1 Cor. 13), Love without action is still-born, just like faith without action is dead. The premise to our questions may be aligned with God's premise or they may come from our own premise.
Examples coming from our own premise:
- The youngest child of three becomes an adult. They learned through life to be bailed out of trouble, so when trouble comes, they're more likely to expect others to fight their battles. They typically perceive Love as HELP.
- The middle child of three becomes an adult. They learned through life to compensate externally for internally not having a forum to be their own individual. They may perceive Love as ATTENTION.
- The first born of three becomes an adult. They learned through life they were loved if they were in charge and taking care of others. They're tough negotiators. They typically perceive Love as PROTECTIVE.
If Love is an action, in my mind, it leaves open the question,
-"What action, and toward what end?"
-"What premise are you using to say that your perception is in its most honest, concentrated form?"
I'm not satisfied if we leave it subjective!
Humor me for a moment. Think of three separate examples of people loving you before reading further. ----- Now, after you're ready, compare your own examples to God's Love action (for you) through Jesus Christ...
As men, we compare ourselves with other men, so how did your comparison align when laid next to God's demonstration? Were they aligned closely or in two separate worlds? The exercise isn't intended to bring condemnation. It's for illumination, if we've pitched our tent (or driven tent pegs), in the familiarity of our memories, rather than Proceeding Truth.
To make a fair comparison, we should establish what God did to demonstrate His Love.
What is His Love action?
Before marrying, every man should know and understand his role as a priest in the home before he becomes a husband. Every man should know what marriage symbolizes, before marrying. Every person should know how Christ loves His Church.
What is God's action of Love?
He gave Himself for His Bride (Eph 5:25-27).
God lowered Himself to become a man out of Love. We've heard the reason (purpose) for God creating our world was His need to create an object on which He could Love. His very nature, being Love, required Him to create us. But, His nature also required Him to create us with a choice to return His Love or not. We must have the choice to reciprocate it or reject it, which is the love a man gives his wife. His Love does not view us after our flesh, but instead, views us through His eyes of perfection. If you're a man, when's the last time you were upset at your wife for not doing something the way you thought it should be done? Is that what you call Love? I call that taking His name in vain. As men, we're charged with first receiving His Love through simple, childlike faith. Then, we present the same grace in our homes. As apostles and elders in His Church this is why we look at a man's home before ordaining him an overseer. He must demonstrate God's Love in the home BEFORE he is set over any work.
God chose to connect and multiply through relationship, making His dwelling place in us. For reasons that I'm still in awe of, but don't make human, logical sense, it's His pleasure to dwell within us. Only our Perfect God could be so Loving to dwell with His people!
I often wonder about people who recognize others for "doing the right thing". It seems they often pick and choose as it fits "their" plans. Whether it's the politician on television or the man who provides financially for his family, applauding people for their performance leaves me curious... curious to know if their judgment is based on (unbiased) wisdom (giving honor where it's due) -OR- simply agreeing with the person they're temporarily lauding, so they can build society based on the set of morals (politics) that make it self-apparent all the other people haven't arrived yet [small sarcasm intended]. My hunch is it's mostly pride, rendering them unable to learn. But, if it's the former, they're recognition will probably be accompanied with a great awareness about themselves. As it is, it seems as if the masses sit on their own throne, determining for themselves good and evil, which is an open admission they will not allow Christ to sit there.
"Be transformed by the renewing of YOUR mind." Being transformed, we have found Joy, Hope, Peace and Love. Before transformation our minds were fixed on other 'anchor points', on assumptions based on what 'seems right' to us; but now, we know we're free so our encounters with others carry that same intention, to make them free.
Whatever your central premise, everything in your life orbits around it. He is communicating (demonstrating) that He's with you regardless. You're free to ignore Him and continue living with any anchor point you choose, as your god. But, if you're hungry, you'll turn toward Him and accept His Grace connection. The food I'm speaking of is eternal.
Start looking for examples that are heaven sent and not simply meet your ideas. I simply desire to wet your appetite, so you might be hungry, opening yourself to be taught by Him. Far too long we've said we we're fishers of men, but a local brother recently said we were really professional anglers, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment, trying to get people who aren't hungry to eat.
Yes, Love is an action, but it's God moving toward men (toward sin). The action is to first see someone in need of connection to God, then be present in the moment and provide it.
Maybe we should revisit the term 'obedience'. There are so many terms found in our sea of perceptions. Unless we're teachable, we'll build on temporal ideas, without checking to see if they can support the weight of tomorrow, let alone eternity.
OBEDIENCE: if God says nothing can separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus, I would be disobedient to reject my connection to Him now. A lack of obedience is not just a miscalculation in effort, as some might suggest, unless you're spiritual walk is only about avoiding circumstances. In that case, you're not walking spiritually anyway. The obedience we yield to is that we are not separate from each other or God. We, in fact are the embodiment of God as/in men. Until I agree with this (obedience), I am in disagreement with myself, and God.
God dwells in MY (YOUR) humanity (situation- circumstances) without excuse or argument, regardless of our feelings.
We either over-complicate the simplicity of Christ, deny it outright, or accept it freely. If we accept it then we're left with a great treasure living in/as us. Just to keep it clear in our processing, maybe we should stop looking at 'Love' as an action, but rather view 'Love' as a person.
What if we weren't alone all those times? Which times? All the times! What if Love was with us the whole time, orchestrating and allowing just the right trials to come so that our eyes might one day see what is already true? What if God really is Love? And, what if He really did lower Himself to be a Man? So that He would be with us, in us? If that's true then, maybe His return is different than we thought. Maybe it's through us?
One reason we don't like getting honest, thinking outside the traditional lines is we're scared what we might learn ourselves and God's Grace. As long as things are nice and predictable then we're in control, but once we get too high on the ladder, it begins to shake, so we're tempted to stop. We're scared to learn we are part of Him, part of the God-Head, because if it's true then all the time and energy we've spent up till now would be wasted. Well, so be it... by faith you are one with God and thus, you are one with Love, and while I'm at it, you're one with me.
I'm quite hesitant to quantify maturity in Love but if we're determining 'good and evil' for ourselves, it's an admission we will not allow Christ to sit on the throne of our heart. His Blueprint doesn't just give accolades to those who agree with us but it places us in a position where we can learn and grow spiritually.
When we're determining what's right and wrong we've placed our self at the top of the food-chain, where everyone else must agree with us! Finding agreement with God isn't about intellectual agreement, where everyone who doesn't know what you know is wrong. Christ-like discipleship is about maturing as His son, gaining the mind of Christ, which is measured by growing out of the fleshy need to regard others after flesh. After all, if Christ no longer regards your sin after your flesh, why do you hold others' sin against them? It's not an insult to admit you can grow more in Christ, nor does it separate you from Him if you're honest about the obvious.
What I wish, possibly above all else, is the ability to communicate, as clearly as I see it, that God isn't put off by your individuality, and that He loves living in your earthen vessel.
David Roberts is an apostle and ministry son of Dr. Mark Hanby. He serves as Executive Director of Restoration House Ministries- You may contact him through his website: http://restorationhouse.com