Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What is Love?

1 John 4: 7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

I had an experience this week that has left me feeling a bit...... bitter?  I'm not sure that is the right word, but I haven't been able to shake it. Haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

I am not going to share the details here, but after the experience, I was left wondering once again what loving people the way God does looks like in REAL life. What does it look like in the everyday, real, messy, imperfect relationships ?

The scripture above was my reading this morning.  It definitely resonated with me.  
So, I did a little research on love.  God's real {Agapeo} love. How he wants me to relate to others.      I took notes in my journal.  
Here is what I wrote down about God's love.

* Love others as Jesus loved us. (that's even more than I love myself!!)
* Patient
*Not proud 
*without envy
*Doesn't behave rudely
*Keeps a good record of the good (rather than the bad)
*Doesn't take pleasure in the downfall of an enemy or competitor, rather gladly hails his success.
*Forbearing - endures the things that have to endured, such as the weaknesses of others
*Love our enemies -- not rendering offense for offense - rather we should BLESS.
*Supplying the needs of friends and enemies.
*Without hypocrisy
*No pretense  - not just saying you love, but lived out in deed and in truth.
*Lived out in service of others (think Jesus washing the disciples feet).
*Doesn't work to please self - works to please others.
*Surrenders things that may be innocent in themselves but could be a stumbling block for others.
*Gladly forgives 
*Honors all before self.

Here is the thing.  If I am honest, I like to THINK that I am a loving person.  But really, I don't do any of this well.  Not in the real life messiness of relationship.  Because in relationship to other people, I have to contend with humanness.... My own humanness -- the desire to look out for myself, protect myself, my desire to be selfish rather than selfless. My desire to be prideful and make sure people sees me as I want them to.  There is also  the humanness of others to contend with with....  When they aren't being loving to start with or even in return.  
When I feel like the love and putting others first is one sided.

This morning, I was reminded that it is one sided. At least to start with . God loved us and gave us his son to die for us before we ever loved or chose Him.  He did it REGARDLESS of whether we were going to love him in return.

I am also reminded of my need to be aware of his spirit within me each moment of every day.  I am reminded of my need to pray continuously so that I can be loving as he is. And I'm reminded that I need to sit with him in silence and in prayer in order to know him more and more.

Lord, help me.  Help me love as you have loved. Help me be fully aware of  your presence as I go through this day.  Help me live in a state of continuous prayer.  Continuous communication with you.  Continuous awareness that you are with me.  Keep me close so I won't wander away as I am prone to do.  Remind me also that love is more than fuzzy feelings of warmth for people. It is a choice to live out your ways  -- especially when I am no feeling those warm feelings about people.   Amen  

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