Most of the time I write an opinion that I am sure of, I’ve thought it out and I write the considered conclusion, occasionally I will write something that is me just turning the things around in my head…. I am still looking for answers, and am willing to fully consider the alternatives. This is one of those posts.
Sometimes I worry about that admonition that I should love my enemies. I know what the Word has to say, I believe I have no choice in the matter if I am going to obey Jesus Christ, but it worries me. I don’t know how to do it. I am afraid of giving evil another advantage. But that isn’t included in Christ’s teaching… I don’t get to know what I am doing, because it is at odds with my reason, and my long-existing self-preservation.
‘Enemy’ is an interesting word. In some ways it describes almost any threat, but the one that most worries me is the one that puts my loved ones in jeopardy. Next to that is suffering losses that I have no hope of regaining- like being duped, self-duped, even.
And along the way I have enough “lies’, so I am in no hurry to buy into another one. One of the things that I have acquired is a healthy ( I think it’s healthy) derision of variations on this: “If you were a Christian, you would…” you get to fill in the demands of anyone who wants something from you; or ” And you call yourself a Christian!” I’ve gotten lots of that one. But I do call myself a Christian with good cause. And I know that the obedience I owe is to Christ… not any Jim-dandy who comes along claiming it. The giving I owe is in response to the demands of Christ, not everyone else clamoring for the resources of my life.
Along the way in the church the discussion on agape is often found with riders of excuses. Lots of excuses that we are only human, that we try our best and that ought to be enough, and many guilt trips on how we aren’t measuring up. I find all this to be nonsensical. Either we are called to that love or we are not, and if there are qualifications we ought to be able to find them in the Bible, somewhere.
One of these qulaifications I have found is that there is a specific type of love reserved for the Christians, brothers and sisters. It is identified as the way we love each other in the example of Christ. The World has sort of hijacked that, I think. That is why Rusty asked all sorts of questions, because if someone calls themselves a Christian, even if once a homosexual, we have demands upon all of us that we do not have on an unrepentant homosexual who has an agenda at hand. The Bible seems to call such “wolves”, whether they are homosexual, adulterers, or simply seeking ‘minions’. You might laugh at that word, but I think it fits some people’s intentions.
Nothing undoes me more than the bad stuff of my true fellow Christians. We are one body, and that makes the hurts very real, and internal. I can much better handle the many sins of the unbeliever, I don’t feel so vulnerable and betrayed by that.
In all this is that word, agape. One thing I do know about that is that I have hit my limit, many times, far before I qualified agape level. If I were to act with agape in any real test, it requires a tapping into God that is sometimes called surrender, sometimes termed ‘leaning in faith’. It is outside of me. It calls upon that covenant commitment in many ways, my giving, but my receiving also. It is the hardest thing I know. I surmise it is hard for me more than others because of my pride in self-reliance. I try fighting alot longer than most- I get very beat-up because of that. I have to learn how to direct my strength and gauge what is truly strength and what is truly weakness. Christ is my strength in my weakness, and my strength without Him-nothing. Tough lessons.
Because I have less problems with the ‘untouchables’ of the Church I think I also have a better idea of what it costs us to give ourselves in this. We don’t get the fringe benefit of pride trips, although some Christians who go parading their flags of “acceptance” are looking for that. That isn’t how you give real love. You don’t get to, then, parade. You’ve just done what you ought, whatever it was that Jesus required….. for the sake of that soul.
You also risk losing and being taken advantage of, because you are dealing with deeply hurt people. Deeply hurt people are unpredictable in their responses. They have wounded places you cannot discern without the help of God’s Holy Spirit, and there are times He does not reveal those things… you have to love on faith. Or faith that works by love is the proper term for it. You have to lend yourself to God. and know that sometimes that means identifying personally with the sufferings and death of Christ. Personal betrayal of your trust is one of those sufferings.
The way I see it is that we don’t get to circumvent Gethsemane. We will need to visit there ourselves.
This scares me, quite frankly. Maybe this is part of my “fear of God”. I don’t, however, believe that God requires me to take leave of my senses, just to give them different priority. When someone enters the Church body, I am still going to look for whether they show signs of regeneration.
Not everyone was privy to Christ’s counsel during His ministry on earth, although that flies in the face of the Worldly un-Gospel.
They want to delete the part where we are all under judgment and need to repent and be saved. They want to skip to the love and unconditional acceptance part. We are not honest if we let them, and deluded if we think we can.
That is why the bible says: “God is not mocked”. No one is going to outwit, outfox, or out-manuver God.
We will all have to take His steps to love the proper way. The agape way of love. That is why it is wise to have the terms all laid out. Jesus was quite honest about this, why aren’t we? Do we really think we love ‘better’? that we have evolved past the admonitions of Christ? That is post-modern thinking, though. Just look at it. It is in Anno Domini terms….. it takes the message of Christ and thinks it does one better… more tolerant, more loving, less demanding, more rewarding, more truthful, less guilt, more peacable.
And then it gets digested and regurgitated in the Church. Don’t give me your regurgitated PC tolerance and dress it in robes of false “agape”. It stinketh, brethren. I want something more costly and precious, even if more despised.
Even though I doubt I really know what it means to exhibit that level of likeness to Christ. I can’t give you a post on what it looks like and how-to, I am afraid I just have to point to Christ and say that is the way for us, and we get mixed up in various interpretation of how to follow…. but there it is.
I don’t know if anything can be made of this mish-mash of thoughts. I think of Bread of Heaven, I think of manna, and how the sweet, light taste of that was despised, I think of boundaries and how important those are to allowing relationships truly grow, I think of my failures, I think of my hopes, and I am sorry I get so angry. Maybe I will work through some of these things this year. I don’t have a proper motto… not really much of one for mottoes -but they do serve to jog the memory.
I’ll let you know if I come up with one. You could tell me yours 🙂
that would be nice
2 thoughts on “Agape”
Wow. Wisdom here. Wish you and I could sit and talk for a while in person. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
Maybe we can sometime… in the meantime, hopefully the measure of foolishness that is mixed in the me that I am in real life will have diminished to the degree that I wouldn’t terribly disappoint.
I have to say you are one of the most reliably encouraging people I have encountered online. I go to your blog when I want to “look up”. You raise the bar for me.
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