Wednesday, April 29, 2015

All You Need is Love

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. 1 Corinthians 16:19-24 (NKJV) p
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 (NKJV)
“All you need is love. John Lennon. Smart man. Shot in the back, very sad.”  Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch  - Independence Day, 1996)
     Recently someone I greatly respect reminded me of a character trait of which I am all too aware, but of which I also far too often misplace. I seem to have been born without the brevity gene. That, or I skipped school that semester. Whatever the reason, as my delightfully observant youngest child once put it, “Dad, you have the unique gift of being able to synthesize any ten word concept down into a thousand words or more.” Yeah, she didn’t get the gene either.
     I’ve been writing about the modern church and the problems I see in a particular methodology. Ok – I’ve been on a soapbox. I believe the approach is unbiblical and in at least one instance in our area borderline personality cult in nature.
     He suggested that what I do best is exegete Scripture, and that perhaps doing that in bite sized, digestible chunks might better serve both my giftedness and my writing.
     When I was Thirteen I spoke very briefly after a morning service in my home church. Following that short presentation – a prayer request – an elderly woman came up to me and said I was destined to be either a lawyer…or a preacher.  As it turns out she was half right. I am technically a licensed Baptist preacher, but my drive – my gift – the thing that really gets my blood flowing, is teaching. Not just teaching, but teaching God’s Word, the Bible. And not just teaching God’s Word, but digging down to the word by word, what that that word meant when the writer of Scripture wrote it in his own lifetime, and how have the cultures of James I of England and the various versions of the an English translation that they went through before they ended up with the 1611 version affected or even changed the meanings of those words. How do those British English words differ in cultural understanding from the same word in American English, because they do, and what about the 400 years since?
     THAT is what drives me! A seminar leader once said “There are two kinds of people in the world: people who continue to learn and dead people. Which one are you?” I want ALWAYS to be the former so I can be more effective at using my gift for God’s Glory.
     That, my friend, is probably the reason for the defective brevity switch. I am driven to keep driving until I see the little lightbulb switch on in every pair of eyes in the room. For the teacher, THAT is the reward! Seeing that instant of recognition in your student’s eyes when they get it!
     I began this with a lot of Bible references to the word “LOVE”. I was minimally selective, for brevity’s sake. I use the New King James as my primary Bible. The word love appears, in one of its three primary Greek renditions, including for ease of arguments sake the Greek OT manuscripts copies of the original Hebrew and Aramaic, 500 times in the NKJV, 264 times in the Old Testament; 236 times in the New.
     There are three Greek words translated love in the Bible. EROS which is where we get the concept of erotic, physical, romantic love. PHILEO is brotherly love. APAPE/AGAPEO is friendship love.
I listed five seemingly different passages of Scripture at the beginning of this little (so far, so good) missive. Would it surprise you to know that all of them except the 1 Corinthians passage is agape love – friendship love.
     When Paul says “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” (1 Corinthians 16:22) he uses the more personal, more affectionate, more intensely deeper friendship kind of love. The word that implies commitment.  A word that is proactive.  This is someone whose love for Christ is more than lip service or Sunday morning spectator sport going to a religious event once a week to be entertained. The word translated accursed can also be translated anathema or excommunicated.
     Paul is saying if your heart and soul are not totally committed to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you may as well get out! You have no place in the fellowship of believers. Contrast with Jesus telling John, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 10:35. This is Agape.
     Where are you, my friend? Where is your love? Stuff? Material things? Jesus Christ died to give you eternal life with Him in Heaven for eternity. It was the greatest single act of love ever committed (John 3:16). All He asks of you is that you acknowledge yourself to be what he already knows you to be – a sinner. Confess your sins to Jesus. Repent or turn away from them. Ask Jesus to forgive you and be your savior. The  alternative is eternal separation from God.  That is Hell, and it’s very real.  Won’t you think about it? You know, in a way John Lennon was right - all you do really need is love - the loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ living in your heart, and it’s yours for the asking.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10 NKJV

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