Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let's talk about some REAL Christian Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

One of the most misinterpreted passages that I have come across, quoted at will, whenever it suits fancy. The various understandings coming from this verse are extremely painful. Here are some things to put it in perspective.

Before that, here are a few things that must be cleared first:

1. The passage does not indicate that Christians must be a bunch of "nice & sweet" folk.

2. It does not solely seek to accommodate anyone's personal preferences of what love must be. It is for our growth and understanding.

3. Love is given with sincere concern for the good of the person. Always in the best interests of person, it may result in methods which are non-"nice & sweet".

4. It is defined by the values of God and not in a free-for-all sense.

Love is patient.
Indeed, but not patient enough to lose you to your own folly

Love is kind.
Of course, but it would not 'be so kind' as to let you not revel in pseudo-light/darkness

Love does not envy...
...except share the envy of being in Christ, of course with the envy intact

Love does not boast
It cannot boast of anything except gratefulness

Love is not self-seeking...
...nor does any one become the centre of focus of it

Love is not easily angered...
...neither is it offered over-the-counter to be valued like that

Love keeps no record of wrongs.
It quietly moves past as if they never happened
Love does not delight in evil
It speaks against every bit of it
Love rejoices with the truth...
...as much as it rebukes the untruth
Love always protects...
...but not in a manner that you will always feel protected
Love always trusts and hopes...
...that the right will be chosen, independently, in good judgement
Love always perseveres and keeps on keeping on, never giving up

We often find ourselves not being able to differentiate between a value judgment and a statement of fact, when someone says or does something. Not all people who say what we don't like are wrong. It's not the Golden Rule of Life. It may be so when the entire world actually revolves around you, but till then they can also very well be right. Making value judgments are easy, but we also forget that when we do that we are only doing, ourselves, what we are accusing the other person of doing. The right way to handle it is to talk about it, with reason and understanding, on the basis that either party could be wrong and that the statement or action was indeed the case. Running all over town on the presumption that you are right and the other person is no less a value judgment, even if you are. That's when talking about it with reason and understanding, ego and value judgments aside, brings the real picture into focus.

There is also the correction that we must not be rude. Rude is something that can occur from any direction. Something can be said in utter sincerity, with or without knowing the other person, which can result in the person being hurt. Assuming that the prime reason of saying and doing such a thing was to be rude to you, for no reason at all, would be an assumption, again, based on the fact that you are indeed the centre of all things that must happen, which is not the case. It must, again, be talked over with reason and understanding, putting ego and value judgments aside.

It is also very common to have Christians point out this very verse and tell how "unchristian" our actions are, telling us we must act otherwise. We must understand that while we are supposed to longsuffer and love, when we do it on demand, it is as good as being taken for granted by people who know the loophole. It no longer serves a purpose then. It's like admitting the fault that we're trying to correct and then asking that we be kind about it.Love does not respect the issue. It endeavours for the person's growth and understanding. It is not meant to keep the person fine and happy in the wrong – especially when the wrong is openly admitted and defended.

Love is also not an over-the-counter offer. Christian Love in practice is a struggle for the one who practices it in the sense that he/she fights between crossing the line of sounding rude and offensive when seeking to speak the truth in love. How do you tell someone to snap out of it, when you have given them all reason to and more to do so, and they just aren't going to listen? It is not easy. And sometimes a rap on the head, or any other alternative as closely strong, is just the pill, unless you'd rather have them wallow in their own folly a lot more towards their ruin. How you draw that line is the question. All choices are usually made in best possible known judgment - something that is defined and further defended by the love we profess for the person. That does not mean that we will not be rude, unkind, mean and such. He, very well, just may, all in love, do so that the person makes a step for the better. It, being God's very love, should be a fully God led situation as well.

We must also understand the dichotomic nature of God, whose love we profess. As much as God is for something, he is, as much, anti the same thing. If God is righteous, He is as much as anti-sin. It will sometimes seem contradictory. We like to paint a picture of God on one side of the bargain. If it was not so, He would then indeed be contradictory, and more importantly valueless. He would, then, stand for this and that. He would then have to be righteous and love everybody, sin regardless.

When we speak with love, also, we speak with the truth. We do not encourage people to be out of the truth, rather we encourage them to stay in it. We also correct them when they are out of it. When it is the rap in the head that they need, a rap on the head is what they need – all towards directing toward the truth of Christian Love. Sometimes 'love' does not work. Loving one another in Christian Love is not hippie love when we accept each other as we are and all live happily ever after. It corrects and pushes one towards the Truth in correction, with reason and understanding.