Two Are Better

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward  for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow;  but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to life him up.  Again, if two lie together, they are warm;  but how can one be warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.  A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In an earlier blog, I wrote about how God did not create us to be alone.  When I think back over my life, I see how it has been enriched by the love of others.

What would my life be like without my siblings, with whom I remember my childhood, and who helped to care for my mom in her old age?  Or without my mother who read to me, my grandmother who cooked the best dinners ever, my grandfather who taught me I was smart enough to become whatever I wanted to be?

What would my life be like if I had not had my husband to help with all the child rearing chores, to support me and cheer me on when I wanted to go to school, try a new job, or learn a new skill?  Who stuck with me through all the good and bad times of life?

What would my life be life without the many friends, who over the years, saw talents and abilities in me that I didn’t even realize I had?  Who encouraged me to be a leader, to grow spiritually, and (most recently) to start this blog?

Where would I be without God in my life?  To comfort, to guide, to provide, to accept me with all my quirks?  To be a father whenever my earthly parents failed me?

Storge, eros, philia, agape, we need all those loves.  Life is definitely better when we live it with others.

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All the Loves

“He who does not love does not know God;  for God is love.”  1 John 4:8

The other night I asked my husband, a pastor, which of the Greek words for love best describes God’s love for us?  Of course, we first thought of agape love.  God loves everyone, regardless of our looks, ethnic background, temperament, intelligence, or worthiness.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

However, we realized that God’s love is also eros.  In a number of places in the Bible, Israel, and later the church (the new Israel), are referred to as God’s wife or bride.

“Return faithless people”, declares the Lord, for I am your husband.” I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.” Jeremiah 3:14

The fact that God is our father, and Jesus our brother,  exemplifies storge, or family love.  Jesus teaches us:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have a Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy, are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Hebrews 2:11

Of course, philia is part of God’s love nature as well, because through the incarnation, Jesus became our friend.

“I no longer call you servants. because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

So, God no only is love, His is all the loves, and we find every love and everything there is to know about love in Him.  What a wonderful gift!  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

 

 

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

I’ve been to several funerals already this year, no doubt an indication of my age and being the wife of a Pastor.  Of course, Psalm 23 is a familiar and comforting reading that is often used.  Meditating on Jesus as my shepherd has reminded me of this lovely hymn that expresses God’s agape love for us.

Loving Motivation

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  II Timothy 3:14-15

This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me.  It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith.  What was their motivation to do so?

For many people, learning starts at home at a young age.  Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you.  Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.”  Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,”  family love, duty, affection.  This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring.  Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  II Timothy 1:5

Growing in faith can be part of married life also.  “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union.  How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ?  This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do.  Peter says:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…”  1 Peter 3:1

Then there are our friends.  With them we share “philea” or brotherly love.  In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.”  Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them.  Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ.  We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.

Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did.  Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others.  This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.

So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching.  No wonder the Bible says “God is love.  How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it?  Think about the many people from whom you have learned.  Give thanks for their love.

 

 

Undeserved Love #2

My husband and I often borrow DVDs from our local library, and recently we began watching some of the classic musicals.  We started with “My Fair Lady.”  You may recall that this play (originally Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw) tells the story of a language professor who through training, betters the speech of a flower girl (Eliza Doolittle) to such a great extent that she can successfully masquerade as a fine lady.  In the movie, Eliza’s father describes himself as being one of the “underserving poor.”

No, no, I can’t afford ’em, gov’ner. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I mean any ‘arm, mind you, but if Eliza’s getting a bit out of this, why not me too? Eh? Why not? Well, look at it my way – what am I? I ask you, what am I? I’m one of the undeserving poor, that’s what I am. Now think what that means to a man. It means that he’s up against middle-class morality for all of time. If there’s anything going, and I puts in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story: “you’re undeserving, so you can’t have it.” But my needs is as great as the most deserving widows that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same ‘usband. I don’t need less than a deserving man, I need more! I don’t eat less ‘earty than ‘e does, and I drink, oh, a lot more. I’m playin’ straight with you. I ain’t pretendin’ to be deserving. No, I’m undeserving. And I mean to go on being undeserving. I like it and that’s the truth

Read more: http://stageagent.com/monologues/616/my-fair-lady/alfred-p-doolittle#ixzz562eN4vQd

Of course, we find this laughable — who would admit, even be proud of the fact that he’s undeserving.  Actually what he says is quite true.  The underserving need help even more than the deserving, and guess what?  Folks, we are all one of the undeserving in God’s eyes.  Sometimes, like Alfred Doolittle, we even like our sin.  We’re usually not so honest about it though.  We prefer to think “we’re good people” who are “doing the best we can.”  That’s what a Pastor I used to know called “stinking thinking.”  The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans tells us:

“None is righteous, no not one;  no on understands;  no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside;  together they have become worthless;  no one does good, not even one.”  Romans 3:10-12

Love, Died, Cross, Thorns, Crown, Heart, Bible, Shadow

Fortunately for us, the undeserving, there is good news:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:6-8

Be honest.  Admit you’re undeserving.  Then rejoice in the gift God gave you and love others in the same way.

Undeserved Love (Agape)

Love (III)

George Herbert, 15931633

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
	Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
	From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
	If I lacked anything.

“A guest," I answered, “worthy to be here”:
	Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
	I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
	“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
	Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not," says Love, “who bore the blame?”
	“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down," says Love, “and taste my meat.”
	So I did sit and eat.

Loving Fruit

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