Friday, January 27, 2006

When love is not love

John Piper and Phillip Johnson have both been making me think about love recently. I know that sounds a bit weird but bare with me.

What do we understand by love? When someone we love is upset, how do we love them? How do we try and make them feel better? The obvious answer seems to be this: we tell them that 'its ok really', 'you're a great person', 'i really like hanging out with you and if other people can't see that, then it's their problem.' That is not love. That is making much of someone. That is perpetuating the self centeredness of man, which is probably part of what got us into this mess into the first place. Making someone feel better by pointing out their good points is not love. What about the cross? Surely telling someone that the creator of the universe gave Himself up on a cross for them is cross centered love, real love? I don't think it is. Saying that about the cross again makes much of the person, makes us more self centred, and, even more worryingly, makes Jesus Christ, man centred. Yes, the cross achieved our forgiveness from sins our working out of sanctification.But we must view that in terms of what else the cross achieved that being a relationship with the Lord, being able to be in His presence to worship and praise Him for evermore. We must remember that as well as the other girsts of the cross, and worship God Himself, and not the gifts. And so this is real, Christ exulting, man loving love. The complete message of the cross. In John 17, Jesus prays for His followers that they 'may be with me where I am, to see my glory'. Now that sounds pretty self centred does it not. Jesus is asking the Father to show the disciples how much glory the Father has given Him. he doesn't ask the Father to stop the twelve worrying about Jesus arrest and execution, nor that they would not blame themselves...but that they might see the glory of Christ.

That is love. Showing people the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the fact that we can have a relationship with Him because of what He achieved on the cross. The cross and resurrection is where the glory of God is shown the clearest, where Christ showed His love for us the most. If you really want to love someone, make much of God through the message of the cross. Don't encourage them to think of themselves as the foundation for their joy, but only Jesus.


Paul said...

Mmm, God's gifts are there that we might worship Him, not the gifts.

I'd have to come back and say that Jesus *did* die for every Christian and that is the act of love towards us that allows all of the future blessings. I think it's perfectly legitimate to tell someone who is feeling unloved the contents of Romans 5:8 for example. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, demonstrating his love.

But He didn't do that because of anyone's merit but for his own glory...

FloydTheBarber said...

Hi Paul,
The point i'm trying to make is that the greatest gift of the cross is God, not the gifts that we use to comfort people. So i totally agree with your first paragraph.
I think my point is that all too often i comfort people by using the message of Romans 5:8 to say that our forgiveness was the point of the cross. Which makes much of us, and not God.

Paul said...

Soz, that wasn't very clear... I think we've agreed that we agree :)