Tag Archives: Christian love

Love is a person inside

A couple of weeks ago I came across a phrase that intrigued me.  I think it was on Facebook.  You have to understand that I sort of collect titles.  I really don’t care what the book or article is about, I just like some of the titles.  A good title communicates the message long before anyone reads the text.

So I read, “Love is a person inside,” and I began to think.  It’s true.  If I want to know what love really is, there is a person who can tell me.  A person inside.

Now, you understand that I write from a Christian perspective.  I believe in Jesus.  I believe that He is alive and active.  I believe that He is with me and that He loves me.  I believe that, when I came to Him for salvation, He exchanged His perfect life for my broken life and now He lives in me and I in Him.  No, I don’t fully understand all of this, but it is what the Bible teaches and it is what I have personally experienced.

So, the person inside me is Jesus.  That means something, something very practical when it comes to love.

First, it means that love is inside me.  The Lord loved me so much that He gave me new life and marked me as His forever by living within me.  The life in me today is Jesus.  My goal for the rest of my earthly days is to live in and through that life within me, rather than in the pattern of the old life I used to have.

The truth of the Christian life is that you are loved.  You are acceptable and accepted in Jesus.  He will never reject you and His heart toward you is always positive.  He always wants the best for you and nothing will come between you and Him.  Even when you fail in some way, He is there and He accepts you.  His love is truly unconditional.

But there is something more.  In those times when I find it hard to love someone (and there are those times), there is Someone inside me who does love that person.  When I get past myself and my feelings, I realize that the life in me, Jesus, already loves that person.

Yes, I believe that Jesus loves all people, no matter who they are or what they have done.  I do not believe that all are saved, as some are saying.  I do not believe that all are going to be welcome in Heaven, as some are saying.  But I do believe that Jesus went to the cross to make salvation available to all people—because He loved all people.  I don’t care about skin color, language, culture, background, current religion, or time in history.  Jesus loves all people.

So that person who cut me off in traffic, that person who cost me my job, that person who hurt someone I care about, and that person who wants to hurt me—all are loved by Jesus.  That does affect how I think about them.

This has nothing to do with their behavior or whether they are loveable.  They are still accountable for their sins and still answerable to justice.  We have all seen the amazing situation where the family of a young person forgives their child’s killer.   But that forgiveness does not stop justice.  The murderer may still be executed and, perhaps, should still be executed.  But the family is free of hate and bitterness.  How is that possible?  For most, it’s because of a person inside.

If you belong to Jesus, let Him love that person you cannot love.  Don’t force yourself to do anything.  Just know that the Person inside you is loving, even when you struggle.  You will find your heart changing as you accept that Jesus loves the person you cannot.

No, I don’t think this is inconsistent or unreasonable.  I think this is the Christian love we all talk about, but rarely experience.  We think Christian love is something we are supposed to do from ourselves: our sacrifice, our kindness, our forgiveness.  But that isn’t right.

Christian love is not our love.  Christian love flows from the Person inside.

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Filed under Freedom, grace, heart, Relationship

Why Do I Feel This Way?

Feelings are the place where our flesh meets the world.  As we grew up, we learned to like certain things and hate certain things.  Certain things made us afraid and other things made us sad and still other things made us angry enough to fight.  We learned these responses from the intricate web of connections and stimuli in what we experienced in the world.  Some feelings connected to other feelings and all of them were interpreted as how we saw life.  And sometimes our feelings caused us problems.

For example, you meet someone in a group and you find that you like that person.  Why?  Just a feeling, you say.  But that feeling may come from the fact that something about this person reminds you of someone else you like or liked at one time.  Or someone who was kind to you.  Or someone associated with a good, if vague, memory.  Or perhaps the person you meet says something that you like, something that connects with other positive feelings.  Or perhaps what the person is wearing reminds you of someone or something good.  The connections feelings come out of are complicated.

But there are reasons for your feelings.  I used to know someone who was very much prejudiced against anyone whose skin was darker than her own.  Her prejudice was not reasonable because it came from very early fear.  She grew up in a situation where certain segments of the population represented danger to her and her family.  Those dangerous people, of course, had dark skin.  For much of the rest of her life, she could not trust dark-skinned people and disliked being around them.

Sometimes feelings are based on wrong information, wrong data imprinted on your flesh.  But those feelings are still yours and are still part of how you think.  And sometimes the associations are strong enough to overcome reason.  Even if you don’t want to feel a certain way, you still do.  Even if you believe your feelings are wrong responses, they still come from a place deep inside.

The flesh, as I have written before, is the way we learned to deal with life.  The flesh is filled with strange connections and feelings.  We react certain ways to certain things because that’s what has been programmed into our flesh.  A radical transformation is usually required for our feelings to change.

So, for one person to tell another not to feel a certain way is not only narcissistic, it is totally unreasonable.  Most of us would love to be able to simply turn certain feelings on or off, but the connections that created our feelings can’t be ignored or twisted by a simple decision.  We have to learn new information, form new connections, begin to think new thoughts.  That takes time and support.

Consider the ramifications of this.  Is it any wonder that we continue to struggle with certain behaviors after we come to Jesus?  Is it a surprise that Christians interact with each other in hurtful ways—based on feelings?  Coming to Jesus brings salvation.  Walking with Jesus through life teaches us a new way to think and brings us new feelings.

Read this article and meet me back here.  I will be interested to see what you think and, of course, I will share my thoughts.

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Filed under Freedom, Legalism, Narcissism

Walk in love

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.   Ephesians 5:2

 We have been taught that love is an action.  The church has spent a great deal of time trying to get us out of the idea that love is a feeling for two reasons.  The first is that many who say they love don’t show that love by actions.  There is a disconnect between what they say they feel and what they do.  The second is that the church has never really done well with feeling and can only measure doing.  So we have songs that say, “Love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.”  (Apologies to Don Francisco!)

But it seems to me that love is much more than action.  I know too many people who seek to prove their love for God and others by their actions, while their hearts are far from love.  Because of this error in emphasis, many in the church think acts of service are the same as love.  “He must love the Lord; he gave $10,000 to the church last year.”  “Look how he loves her by opening the door for her.”  But the Lord knows the truth:

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. . .     Isaiah 29:13

It’s easy to fake love.  It’s easy to substitute duty and obligation for love.  When the Lord called us to love, He didn’t mean a feeling that has no action in life—but neither did He mean an action that covered the disdain or apathy in the heart.  Instead, He called us to walk in love.

I think we are beginning to see that the walk of the Christian life is the daily atmosphere in which we live.  It’s more than the things we do; it’s the very life in us.  To walk in love is to live in the heart attitude of Jesus toward all people.  When we look at others, our hearts should be predisposed toward loving them.  We should feel love and do love because love is in us and flows out of us.  It’s just who we are.

I think this is the sense of what Paul meant when he wrote of us being the aroma of Christ in 2 Cor. 2:16.  His aroma, according to the Ephesians passage above, is the sweet aroma of love.  He overflows in us and His love radiates from us.  Again, it’s just who we are.

Okay, back to the “real” world.  If there is any part of the new life in me that conflicts with my flesh, this is it.  The love of Christ doesn’t seem to radiate from me sometimes.  (What an understatement!)  It seems very difficult to love sometimes and I would not consider myself a loving person.

But listen: it is still who I am!  Just because my flesh asserts itself often in this area does not mean that love is not who I am or that it doesn’t radiate from me.  I am often thanked for my loving attitude—and it shocks me.  Could it be that Jesus does flow from me, even when I don’t feel particularly loving?  Yes!  Ultimately, my flesh does not define me, Jesus does.

Say these words with me:

I do love others.  I do love my enemies.  I do love those who hurt me.  My flesh does not, but—in the newness of the life of Christ in me—I do.   Whether I feel it or not, I walk in love.

Comments?

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Filed under grace, heart, Relationship