Monday, November 16, 2015

Love at it's source

Love can only come from God's image bearers (you and I) in response to God's love for and to them first.

Though we have the capacity to *love, it is only a capacity. In other words we are able to receive or be loved and respond in love if and when loved but absent God's love we are unable to give love i.e. we can not initiate love. To say it another way, we are not the source of love and never were intended or designed to be; we are recipients, responders to love and conduits of love.

And very good ones at that. In fact we alone, of all God's creatures, can respond to his love, consciously and deliberately in a way no other of God's creatures/creation can. Though we are not hard wired to initiate love, we are hard wired to receive love and than respond back to God (the source) in love and also out to others with His love.

We are designed to receive love and respond to love, we are not hard wired to initiate love. We will not (and can not) love others as God has designed us to (sacrificially), unless we are loved (sacrificially) first i.e. unless we are fully connected to the Source of love, life and all things.

Why? Simply stated, God is love, we are not.

But we are like God in that we can participate in the love that God is. We can enter into the union/fellowship of love between the Father Son and Spirit as God's image bearers.  But God and God alone is the source of love and life and all things. We are image bearers that participate in and reflect that love if and when we receive it.

If we are loving others as God loves us, it is only because we are *experiencing (or trusting in) God's love for us first. We can only love others as God loves us when we do so.

Try giving sacrificially none stop and see what happens. We simple can not without receiving or we will burn out.

Yes but...

Some may argue,"what about someone throwing themselves on a grenade to save others or a parent sacrificing themselves to save their child etc." First, this impulse is an expression of being in the image of God. We are designed not just to be loved but to give love. 

But note the order of the greatest commandment. We are called to love God first and than our neighbors. Why? Because true God inspired neighbor love flows out of God's love i.e. it comes from God. To say it another way, we would have no neighbor love if it wasn't for God, who is love i.e. it's hard wired into our spiritual/emotional DNA. 

So what is going on when someone who does not profess to know/trust in God, yet sacrifices themselves to save another? Because we are in God's image we can derive a sense of significance in giving up our lives for another (which is unlike God who demonstrates his significance in sacrificing himself [as the Son] for others. God already is significant. He has no need for significance or acts to gain it. He it totally complete within himself as Father, Son and Spirit). 

Without God driving our action, it is our need for significance that drives it i.e. doing a sacrificial act is an act of validating me, my significance, my importance, not honoring God i.e. it is not driven by a desire to honor God but to honor self; for self to be honored by others. Though the very impulse we have to give our self for another comes from how we are wired by God, if we do not acknowledge and act for this reason (to honor God), at it's core, it is ultimately an act for ourselves no matter how much it is also for another. 

If we fully understood our ultimate demise in sacrificing ourselves this way without God being a deliberate and conscious part of the act (i.e. doing it for his honor), I propose we would not do the act i.e. we would not act if we knew our action would usher us into eternity resulting in our ultimate and eternal separation from God and all good things. We act because we either believe our act will cause us to be remembered as a loving person by others for saving the one we acted for or ultimately save ourselves by possibly winning the favor of God (or Karma or whatever) in the act (as well as win the favor of men, though men do not determine our eternal destiny).

If we do not act for God's honor (consciously and explicitly) in our sacrifice, after our passing folks would likely say, "what a noble act and person" ; they would not say, "what a great God he must worship for him/her to be willing to sacrificially give his/her life for the benefit of another" i.e. to not act for God's honor first and foremost brings praise and approval to ourselves, not to God.

So there are two parts to our truly loving others in the way God loves. 

1. Being like God. We act like him because we are like his image. (which can happen with anyone, whether consciously connected to God or not)

2. Being loved by God i.e. loving others because He loves us (which only happens when we are fully and deliberately connected to the source of love). 

*When referring to love I am not talking about the warm and fuzzy feelings we all experience when things go our way. This is getting love or being loved. I am talking about extending (giving) kindness, care, thoughtfulness even and especially when it costs us something i.e. sacrificial love. We are not willing nor can we give to others in this way unless we have first received the resources to love in this way i.e. we can not give what we do not have and we do not have unless we received it first. To love in this way, we must be "plugged in" to the bottomless, infinite source of love...and that isn't us.


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Grace to you
Jim Deal