20 Sep 2019

Friday Nite, Caffeine Inspired, Thoughts on the “Doctrine” of Love

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: A Gathered People, C. S. Lewis, Church, Love, Precision Obedience, Unity

People use the language of “love” for almost everything in our world. But it is my observation that the genuine article, unfiltered, unvarnished love is unsettling for many people. It is safe to love ice cream, love movies, love cars, love Harleys, and the like.

It is safe because it costs nothing whatsoever to “love” these things.

On the other hand, we want to quantify, regulate, parcel, and restrict the flow of love, precisely because we live in fear.

Genuine love makes life unpredictable. Love makes life uncontrollable. Love makes life vulnerable. Love makes us not in charge. Love makes us not powerful. Love in fact puts us at risk … and I believe that is precisely why we decide to love things rather than people.

But in the real, genuine, unfiltered and unvarnished love … we do not care. Listen to John. We know the text but it is usually not as much part of our “doctrine” as it should be. Indeed it is amazing how often Christians make a distinction between “love” and “doctrine.”

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is NO FEAR IN LOVE, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also” (1 John 4.16b-21)

Love is the greatest of all doctrines.

John makes obedience to the Greatest Commandment dependent upon the exercise of the Second. How often, and it is often, do we find brothers and sisters, under the pretense of loyalty to God avoid their brothers and sisters. John says, not me, it is a “lie!”

See, we turn love for God into the same thing as loving our Harley or ice cream. Such love costs nothing. But John will have none of it (and the rest of the Bible says ‘Amen’). Such love is bogus, fake news, a lie. We meet the icon of God in our sister and our brother and our reaction to the icon, the photograph, the holograph of God is how our respond to God. Every human being we meet is God’s personalized iconography. As C. S. Lewis once noted, we have never met a mere mortal every person is the holy image of God.

As politically incorrect as it may be to say with some Christians, the truth is we do not “abide with our brothers and sisters” because we do not love them.

First John addresses this from the first verse to the last. The heretics in 1 John are not just anti-Christs because they are incorrect, they are heretics because they disfellowshipped, and left, their sisters and brothers (1 Jn 2.18-20).

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Love does not fear our sisters.
Love does not fear our brothers.
Love does not fear aliens.
Love does not fear socialists.
Love does not fear capitalists.
Love does not fear Mexicans.
Love does not fear poor people.
Love does not fear aliens.
Love does not fear those with a different opinion than my own.

We love because God loves us. If you and I are “in” him then that love that is in God will be in us. This why John points to the Cross when he speaks of loving one another,

We know that we have passed from death to life [i.e. that is we know we are a Christian] because we love one another … We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jn 3.14-16).

Love cost God something.

The reconciliation of us not just to God, but of us to one another, cost God the death of Jesus (Ephesians 2.11-22). John puts it like this,

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4.10-12)

Love. It is the deepest, it is the hardest, it is the greatest Christian doctrine to practice. Perhaps that is why it plays such a minor role for the promoters of Precision Obedience. But he practice of genuine love reveals how close or far away we are from God.

Unfiltered, unvarnished, sacrificial Love, is the imitation of God. If we loved each other enough to die for one another, John says, we would have far less division. John challenges us to stop pretending we love God when we so freely walk away from the gathering of icons of God.

Stop living in fear. Live in love. But we live in fear …

Love casts out fear. Love has no fear of our sisters and brothers. Any of them.


3 Responses to “Friday Nite, Caffeine Inspired, Thoughts on the “Doctrine” of Love”

  1. Jess Nichols Says:

    I needed this., as I have been struggling with the fact, “am I loving God enough.”

  2. Phil Garner Says:

    Thank you for the message. We know that John continued preaching love into his late life and became more and more evangelistic about it until he died. I have come to understand this is the basic truth of the gospel. Teaching people to love God by practicing love on each on our brothers and sisters. But, it is never simple because sometimes loving someone is more than not hating. Sometimes it means making people angry. Sometimes, it means appearing confrontive. As a manager, I am learning to try wrapping disciplinary action with loving intent. People don’t see it that way most of the time even though more often than not, discipline is the most loving thing I can do. This is really evident in the addiction services. Confrontation or intervention doesn’t feel loving but it is. I truly believed that Jesus was sinless and that was exactly because ever person he encountered he was perfect in how he loved them. He knew their heart so his response was divine in that he knew the way that person had to be loved to do the will of the Father. He knew how to love each individual in exactly the way that person needed to make them grow spiritually. Which, in my estimation, is what this life and the Christian life is ALL about. Thanks for being and sharing your Friday night thoughts.

  3. john acuff Says:

    as often you touched some nerves that had been protected thank you

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