Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Love Unites

Have you ever seen your reflection or the reflection of others in a carnival mirror? If not, a carnival mirror is typically several feet tall and is severely distorted so that the reflection is similarly distorted. By making the mirror with large waves in certain places, the images come out pretty funny. The reason the distorted reflections are funny is because you are seeing the real person in a distorted reality (a false reality). In many cases while the head/face of the reflection is accurate, the body is either made much larger, much skinnier, or just plain wavy. When you see your face on a distorted body wearing your clothes, and mimicking your motions, it looks pretty funny as we allow the reflection to mock its subject. However, there is one person whose image when distorted is not the least bit funny.

In today’s culture we throw around the word “love” in the most distorted ways. However, as Christians, we must realize that God is love (1 John 4:7-12). God does not love just because that is something He does. He loves because that is who He is - He is love's definition. And, like God’s love for us, true love is a permanent and irreversible decision not a feeling that we can "fall in" and out of (as our culture tries to deceive us into believing). For these reasons, true love always unifies eternally and decides to bind ourselves to others, but always in a way that honors God (Love) truly. And, as long as love is centered on God, the only true definition of love, it will last forever. All other loves are distorted reflections of the real thing and will not survive very long at all.

As we examine varying reflections of God/Love, some look beautiful and others don’t. That is because some reflections of love, or definitions of love, are postured towards God while others are postured away from Him. Logically, if a brand of love is postured towards God it is a beautiful reflection. In contrast, if a brand of love is postured away from God it has no other logical choice but to be rather distorted and ugly.

And yet, some, even Christians, remain confused about which definitions or reflections of love are good and which are not. Too often we worship human definitions of love instead of worshipping the One who is Love. And, the worship of human love over God is very ugly indeed. Another cause of confusion is that so many double-minded “Christians” celebrate a brand of love in the name of God while they openly align with the willful rejection of God’s designs and wishes. Just because a love is declared in God’s name does not make it a good and honorable reflection. A love declared in God’s name can only be good when it truly worships God as God. When a brand of love declares itself to be Godly but rejects God in any way, it is worshipping self and not God – again, that is ugly because it is idolatry. In fact, God likens opposing Him in any way to witchcraft in 1 Samuel 15:23.

Even though there is confusion for some Christians, it is very simple to determine which reflections of love are of God and which are not so worthy. It is by the fruit of each expression of love that we can determine its beauty, not by its self-declarations. For some, this is easy. If a brand of love openly violates God’s wishes, then rebellion is its fruit. This is ugly and not love at all. To the other extreme, like God, true love is eternal and will survive long beyond this life. Therefore, any love that lacks such an eternal quality from the outset is a bad reflection. More practically, in today’s culture, the fruit that exposes distorted reflections of love is that which is intended towards division and rebellion against God. Expression of true love is intended towards Godly unity, not ungodly division. Therefore, for our love to truly win, it would not prevail itself upon or at the expense of others. In fact, if any action by any person is intended at the expense of another, it is certainly not love, even if committed by a Christian. For example, those who are practicing true love would not seek or support the open persecution of Christians in any way. That is a violent intent to divide. That is truly hateful and truly ugly. That is not a worthy reflection of love in any way shape or form. If their brand of love were true, the opponents of Christians would treat Christians as God would, not as God's enemies would. They would openly decide to forbear, embrace and defend Christians (not hate them). Wouldn't that actually unify? However, today’s culture and its twisted brands of love are totally incapable of doing what is right because they have departed from the Source of all right and leave themselves to their own corrupt devices.

According to 1 Corinthians 13, true love of others that is postured towards God is characterized by the following (a.k.a. fruit):

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Does not envy
  • Does not boast
  • Not arrogant
  • Not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Is not irritable
  • Is not resentful
  • Does not rejoice in wrongdoing
  • Rejoices with the truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things
  • Never ends

According to this list, do some Christians need to show a more genuine love to some non-Christians? Yes, of course; many need to do a better job as we are all works in progress. But we should never attempt to reflect love at the expense of disagreeing with God about sin and persecuting those who genuinely agree with Him. Christian, as you celebrate "love" with others, no matter what brand it is, measure that love against God’s list above before you choose to celebrate. If the love you are observing lacks these characteristics, it will divide because its fruit is obvious. Such a love should not be celebrated by servants of God. But, if the love you observe yields the above fruits, it will unify men in a posture that worships the only One worthy of worship. Not all forms of love are good and worthy. And, the truest Love is God. Therefore, true love unites us to honor Him in every way. Anything short of that is worth less.

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