I just want to open and close with this reminder, that this is an open topic coffee house, this blog is intended to spur thoughtfulness and participation, not to assign a topic of discussion.
(English Standard Version) LOVE is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with THE TRUTH. Love bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends [kjv "never fails"]. As for [all of the aformentioned gifts], (loose paraphrase) they will either fail or cease.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Our understanding of God is only in His revelation of Himself, and that revelation is optimized in the Incarnation of the Son. Jesus said: "When you see me you see the Father". The disciple who Jesus loved said "God is Love". Since it is God's nature to love, Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have been in an Eternal Love relationship of the most perfect intimacy.
The Son (the Word) participated in Creation. Creation as I said, was the outworking of the love of the Trinity, to spread that love out- to share that love. To wit, following each Step of Creation, God's evaluation of His work: It is good! It has forever been God's intent to become a man so that He could commune with His creature on his own level. This is probably not an original thought, but it just ocurred to me that when God said of Adam "it is not good for man to be alone", He was thinking ahead of the INCARNATION, and the plan for Jesus to wed His bride, the Church. The fall only necessitated that He send His son to live a vicarious human life perfectly, to die a sinner's death in order to reconcile His creation to Himself.
He sent the Holy Spirit to commune with us every moment of our lives, and as an earnest payment, a surety, or security that He intends to fully redeem (resurrect, remake) our bodies for full, everlasting communion with the Trinity, in perfect intimacy.
Assuming I am understood (an enormous assumption) or else hoping you have some understanding of your own of this doctrine, how does this apply to the passage above?
The nature of my question contrasts my former understanding: If Paul in Corinthians, is adding to a long list of "how to live", "oughts", it should be obvious why I have found it pretty sterile in the past.
If, on the other hand God is Love, He created to multiply that love, He saved us, not for His glory, or some other utilitarian purpose, such as a grudge match between Him and His creature satan, or to prove something, but He saved us because He loves us and desires a relationship with us, then it stands to reason that the passage above describes Him first of all:
We can only practice this love as we abide in HIM.
I knew this blog (1 Cor 13) was incomplete. I went back to the 1st blog. It gets close too, but there is one more something. It keeps flashing through my mind, and then I forget it again. It really is the dynamus (sp?) of the human response to affective theology as I see it. Somehow it flashed at me again in church this morning; so I wrote it down on the back of my church bulletine. Continuing in the passage:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: But when I became a man, I put away childish things.
So in that passage Love is the main thing, as set against childish things. What are rules and regulations for?
Galatians 4 speaks to the believers of Galatia who having begun in the Spirit by the hearing of faith, were now being "bewitched" by those who wanted to re-subject them to the law.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child... is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. [I'm skipping through this chapter] God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons....God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba, Father".
[now Galatians are self-subjected to the law. Contrast that with where they were at first:]
Where is that blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
Why would they have done such a self-sacrificing thing? Because they thought it was their duty? Because the law taught pay backs for Paul's gospel? NO! He implies they would have given up their own eyes for love of Paul. Yes, because of what he did for them, but not out of duty or obligation, but you do what you love to do. That is the legs of affective theology. God loves to give love, that is why He created creation, and man. God, including the Son of God, "It is Good", loves His creation and man. That is why He endured the torture and shame of the cross. Because He loves torture and shame? No silly! Because He loves us. Did He keep law all His incarnate life because it was the law? No, He did so because He loves us. So now let us go toward the end of Galatians.
5:13ff Brethren, you have been called into liberty[out of the law]. Only use not liberty for an ocassion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.... Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fufill the lust of the flesh...
Now the works of the flesh are manifest [a laundry list of fleshly lifestyles and sins follows, which one might think, "hey, how does keeping the law differ from abstaining from these?" ].....But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace...And they that are Christs have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.
So, under my formally law clinging self, I looked at the two lists,(the don'ts and the do's) and wondered how this differs from keeping the ten commandments. In fact the standard seems if anything higher.
Above Paul said "walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. What does that mean? As a stand alone directive, it just led me to eventually succumb to trying to beat the the lust of the flesh by will power, and here we are on that tread mill again (it's a hamster wheel). So at risk of unpacking this too much, and losing the point in overwhelming verbosity, I'll cut to the chase.
On the back of my church bulletine is scribbled:
Affective Theology: As we get to know Him in His love, the more we actually trust Him, the more we behold Him and see Him as He is, the more we Abide in Him, the more we will love what He loves."
The whole point is that if I am serving the law, I frustrate the Grace of God. I do out of obligation grudgingly.
To a certain degree, I think this is good as it keeps us out of prison (literal) and keeps civilization somewhat civivlized until He comes. But what Jesus did, was create us, gave us autonomy, watched us fall, and saved us, out of pure love for us, not out of any sense of duty or obligation. He was and is driven by His love.
How could we possibly succeed under any other motivation? As we ABIDE in HIM, (remember, keeping the law is contrary to the Gospel) We get closer to Him, and get to know Him better. (remember, the law is a stumbling block to those who live by it). We truly see His infinite love for us. We begin to identify with Him and His loves. We begin to love what He loves. That love drives us to do what we do. "A man can not serve two masters, He will either love one and hate the other, or else hate the first and love the other." Jesus specified God and Mammon (whatever that is) Paul specifies that you can not serve God and the law.
All you can DO is Abide in Jesus, in His word, in prayer, worship, and fellowship of the brotherhood. Unless you Abide in Him you will bear no fruit. As you abide in Him, and trust Him only forever, you will finally know His love, you will finally love Him and love what He loves.
PS Remember, this is a non-topical site. Comment on whatever is on your heart, or just say "hi".
FATHER, please show us the height of your Holiness,
the depth of our sinfulness,
and the Height, the depth and the breadth of Your Love for each of us,
then we will begin to see you as you are, and begin to love what you love.
It is in Jesus name we ask this,
*Used at the close of Sunday School, March 21, 2010