Ah yes, love! It’s almost spring which turns a young man’s fancy . . ., so I am told. Valentine’s Day is long past. You remember. That’s when love is expressed in big teddy bears and heart shaped helium balloons—genuine expressions of love don’t you know.
In my recreational reading over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to read some (not all) novels that are heavy on the romantic side. Though the prose was strong on pumping up the emotional side of things, I found this genre of literature to be rather flat and, quite frankly, rather disappointing after finishing the final chapter. It just isn’t like that in the real world.
Do I have a stranglehold on the obvious to inform you that love is the holy grail of human experience? Everyone is desperate for someone to love and to be loved. Yet, how sad it is for those who think they have found their one true love to be awakened to another reality of human experience—sin. Sin and its consort, self-centeredness, is ingrained in all of us and it lurks in the shadows behind the activity of the brain that is often mistaken for love. Exploiting the weakness of humanly generated love, better known as attraction, it emerges to demolish those dreams and fantasies about the nature and accessibility of true love.
How many couples have come together and have bound themselves to each other on that gossamer foundation that is human love. Yessir! They’re going to beat the odds of failed relationships because theirs is like nobody else’s. You see they have such wonderful communication; they can talk together for hours! So they know how to head off their problems at the pass and solve them before they get out of hand.
Why is it that these same people who were once madly in love forever are now sometime later bitter enemies fighting it out in the divorce courts?
Despite the risks and vulnerability involved, love remains humanity’s highest quest. Why?
Most certainly it is not that we have evolved into a sophisticated array of synapses in the brain; neither is there some DNA molecule that can be identified as love. Ironically after the development of the brain scanning device known as the PET scanner and the decade of the brain in the 1990’s, we know more about the brain than ever before but are no closer to understanding those things which make us human. I’m referring to that which is the context of the experience of love: self-consciousness, consciousness of the world around us, and the ability to make choices between moral options. We’re no closer to understanding these things than we were before.1.
Love most certainly has much to do with being image bearers of God. The latter is something more profound than we often take the time to consider. We would do well to contemplate it, however, because it is the divinely hardwired capacity to know and love God and to love one another.
We demand, in this day and age, that our worship songs, hymns and sermons be overstuffed with the love of God. What this new music lacks in content is made up for in high energy electric guitars, keyboards and drum sets.
Don’t misunderstand. It’s important to me to sing about and contemplate the love of God. It’s just that I prefer, “I hear the words of love; I gaze upon the blood; I see the mighty sacrifice and I have peace with God;” to “Oh how he loves you and me.” Sometimes old is better than new.
Indeed, we ought to be singing about the love of God and we ought to be hearing about it in the pulpit but we ought to get beyond the word itself. There are many aspects to that love including, dare I say it, even God’s justice. He is not indifferent to evil. Sad to report, most of the rhetoric about God’s love is rather thin when it comes to the specifics as to how that love is expressed.
By the way, have you noticed in the Christian/atheist debates, how the arguments from the atheist side are rarely about some irrefutable scientific data, but rather the problem of evil? It’s amazing how the opposition is so quick to leave their home country of materialism and enter the non-material world of metaphysics. The unbeliever is truly an image bearer of God and his concern about evil betrays that fact.
Okay, we’re talking about love and not the problem of evil per se but let us see God’s love in the Cross wherein God is not indifferent to evil inasmuch as divine justice has been satisfied so that reconciliation and a new creation in Christ can be offered to the world.
It would not be so bad, this overwhelming emphasis on love in our worship and preaching, if people who are so willing to passionately absorb this touchy-feely rhetoric would find themselves ever more loving.
Why is it that those who love to sing about God’s love, demand sermons on it, end up being some of the most unloving people around? It’s one thing to sing and talk about God’s love, it’s quite another to receive it. Am I overstating the case to assert that if we were able to absorb and subsequently transmit one tenth the number of times the love of God is mentioned, that there would be a veritable revival?
Please forgive me if I appear to be sitting high on a perch judging others while rendering myself impervious to the problem. I include myself in this word-vs-reality deficit. I am in desperate need of the authentic experience of, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
We would do well to ponder the genuineness of our own experience and expressions of love the next time we sing or hear about how much God loves us.
- James LaFanu, Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves, pp. 11-21
I had an interesting experience riding the subway recently. I was with my son Nathan and family. On the train we were talking about spiritual things. A man standing next to us was wincing and intermittently taking deep breaths. I thought it was a matter of his not having a seat inasmuch as he was somewhat wide of girth. Finally he got a seat next to me and all of a sudden, he proceeded to tear into me with a broadside of insults (unrepeatable) and a barrage of questions, like “What kind of a Christian are you? Are you one of those Evangelicals?” He was not crazy but he had been drinking and sometimes the drink can diminish one’s inhibitions. In his case he made it known to everyone around how much he hates Christians. I suspect many others do also. No matter. It’s part of the territory of being a follower of Christ and a sober reminder as to how we are to be circumspect in living our lives before a watching world.
Though summer is a few months away, we do want to mention again the need for camp scholarships. Camping is becoming increasingly expensive and it would be sad to see some of our more disadvantaged youth priced out of the experience. Thank you, in advance, for your generosity.
Whenever I’m in our building, I try to remember to thank God for His amazing and miraculous provision. The
Lord had provided our homes over the years out of which we were able to carry out our ministries. We can do so much more having our own facility. When one acquires a building, even a new one such as we have, it has to be maintained—hellooo! Periodically, maintenance and repair issues have arisen some of which seem insurmountable. I stand amazed that God has brought the right person and the right time to handle these problems. He was with us in the wilderness; He continues to be with us in the promised land.
We’re busy. A lot of ministries, mostly to youth, directly or indirectly connected to BHOF are happening. But what we long to see is a response from those that are hearing the Gospel. We can get decisions but there needs to be a demonstrable, life transforming, spiritual awakening especially in the younger generation. Only the Lord can make that happen. Thank you for praying with us to that end.