Friday, November 10, 2006

love as activity

Love, if it is real, must express itself in action. If I really love God, than I will do something about it. If I love another, somehow I will want to express that love. To say I love someone, yet to not help them in their need, the apostle John tells us, is to neither love them, or the God we profess to love.

In the community of Jesus, love must be expressed in a good number of ways. We are already on our way to conformity to the Lord. But we haven't arrived. There will always be the need to forgive each other. And to reach out, in love, in some kind of imaginative way, at times, to break down walls. And to really be in the same room, so to speak, in spite of our remaining differences.

To express our love for each other may often require remaining silent. "There is a time to be still and a time to be speak" (Ecclesiastes). When we do speak, we'll do so in love. Seeking truth. But in a posture of wanting to do so together.

This subject is keen on my mind, because I work at a Christian ministry and on a team in factory work there, among some who have a very strong political opinion that I do not share. We all want God's righteousness to prevail. But our theologies and understanding of Scripture differ. What to do?

Reach out in love. Seek to grow together. Learn to be able to discuss differences. And in doing so, really hear the other person out. Be open to change. In these kind of discussions there should be growth on both sides. Both intellectually, and in regard to wisdom. And especially in the dynamic of our life together in Christ. That we are being lifted up by grace into conformity to him, and in this same process, being brought to increasing fellowship with each other.

One other thing I must add. Love will forgive. Whatever grievances one has towards another in the community of Jesus. We're to forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us. And to put over that, and everything else, this love, we're talking about here. (Paul) This is so necessary. I've found that no matter what I do, there may be that certain someone who doesn't like you, and is more than willing to express that. We have to consider where they're coming from, what they believe, and where they're going. When we see the grace of God in their lives, we know it's just a matter of time before there will be complete reconciliation between us. In the love of God.

What activities do we do at home, at work, as church, in our neighborhoods, and in other places- as acts of love? When we might confront someone, do we do it gently, and out of this love? And are we open to being corrected?

4 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

This past year, I've taken to thinking in the imagery of shepherds. I ask myself at any given moment, "Am I being a shepherd to you?" This way of framing my love is very powerful for me, and it often changes what I do next.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L.,

Thanks. I like that thought. We can learn enough about shepherds and shepherding that it has some good insight for us. This reminds me of our Lord's words to Peter: "Feed my sheep." "Take care of my sheep." (John 21)

Andy Blanks said...

Hey Ted,
What you said about having different opinions than your co-workers struck a nerve. I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to disagree in Christ. (Weird, huh?) A few thoughts:
1) It seems that I have some fundamental truths that I am not willing to deviate from. I will gladly listen to and try to see the logic behind someone who holds views that are different from mine. At the end of the day, however, there are just some things I hold as the "black and white" issues. While I will deal lovingly with whoever holds the opposite viewpoint, I can’t really walk too far down the road with them. Maybe this is a deficiency I have . . .

2) As far as viewpoints that aren't "black and white" issues for me--or, the "gray stuff," for lack of a better word--I have learned that I can, that I NEED to listen to my brother or sister in Christ, consider where they're coming from, and try and see why they feel the way they do. I have learned so much lately from doing this. It's not that I have changed my mind necessarily, but that I have simply learned more about the person who holds the view and how they view Christ.

I recently read where someone said, "God's kingdom is big enough for different opinions." I hold high the importance of sound theology and the truth of God’s Word. I just think when it comes to the “gray stuff,” the issues that are more a matter of conviction than a matter of biblically mandated right or wrong, I would rather let those issues be blanketed in love than let them form a divide between me and another believer.

Sorry for the book-length response. Have a great weekend!

Ted Gossard said...

Andy,

Good thoughts. And I would concur with what you're saying.

Since the thought you allude to in my post, has to do with politics, I'll give you what I think is a good example of what I'm talking about.

I believe that human life begins at conception. So I believe that abortion is the taking of human life, and, of course, therefore is wrong. That is a black and white issue.

Now let me share a link from a pro-lifer who takes President George W. Bush and the Republicans to task on one important point, rightfully so, I believe, if the facts are right and the interpretation of them. Here's the link:

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3198

I am ready to consider voting for a pro-choice Democrat who is addressing the root problems behind abortions over a Republican who says he's pro-life on abortion, but is not addressing those issues, even though I would like to see Roe v Wade overturned. Of course I have to consider everything else, as well.

So the point there is that we're going to disagree as Christians over how to work out what we agree on. It's often not as cut and dried, arguably, as some make it. How we work out what we agree to be black and white matters/issues, is often not so black and white.

Then we're left with the issue I raise on this post. Will we love one another when disagreeing on issues we feel strongly about? I say one important answer, and you've said it on your comment, is to hear the other person out. I often find that on matters like this, there is made no room for disagreement. And any Christian who deviates is wrong, period. A mistake.

Often when we do listen, we can find common ground and learn to think the issue through better.

Thanks for your good, challenging thoughts, Andy!