Tuesday, October 28

A death worth dying for......................

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 (WEB)

One of the few verses in the Bible that I can quote without looking, without mistakes. Though I'd be hardpressed to quote the chapter and verse, I'd get the book at least right, because John was known, among all the disciples and apostles, as the "Beloved".

"Love" is mentioned over seven hundred times in the NIV Bible translation, and is the corner post of probably 99% of the sermons in every church in the world that claims at least a passing fancy to the Christian faith. It is the cornerstone of our creation, our lives, and our salvation. It is, for all intents and purposes, the glue that holds it all together.

Romeo and Juilet, the passionate forbidden love that ended in an eternal embrace. Napoleon and Josephine. Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Examples flood our society, often rising above the 'common' experience, of love......it's not just a warm and gushy feeling anymore. It is the mortar that holds the brickheads called Humans together.

Love makes the world go round.........

Merriam-Webster defines love as strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties or an attraction based on sexual desire, admiration, benevolence, or common interests. It is a noun, coming from the Old English lulu and Latin lubere, meaning to please. Of course, it is also a tennis term, a way of saying one side has no points scored............

"What is the real definition of love?" asks Blade31 in her article, The Real Definition of Love, on the blog Purple Slinky. "Love has many different meanings to all different types of people. There are many stages of love at different ages and different types of love. My definition of love is what I personally think of it."

"Love to me is always caring about the person not wanting to be without them," this 18-year old author continues, "and not being mad or staying mad at the person." Of course, even she recognizes that such purity of love doesn't exist in the world today. People, even in the highest and best of love's expressions fight, argue and hurt each other. But love, in Blade31's opinion, is worth it....the trouble, the baggage, and even the pain because love gives meaning to live and without it "Life would be so boring."

Therein lies the human expression of love; it is what we want it to be which is often not what we dream it should be. Love is never painful, never hurtful, and never judgmental. Love is the koombiya...koombiya type of feeling; always welcomed and never burdensome.

Love doesn't cause someone to seek out its physical expression in the arms of someone else. Love doesn't divide a family because it is the best for the survivors. Love doesn't say things in an email like "It is because of me you have your children", "You're unfit to be a father" or "Don't contact my family because we don't want any contact with bad seed."

Love doesn't say or do such things.

Love isn't a double edged sword in the hands of someone else, slicing you in two and leaving you broken and wounded to bleed out upon the wooden uncaring floor of what once was your life. No, love isn't anything like that.

Love doesn't leave you empty, fearful of the judging eyes of former friends, family, and colleagues. Love isn't supposed to be like that, by any sane person's idea.

But Love often does.

I have been told that I am a 'bad seed' because I won't have contact with my soon-to-be ex's family, and haven't gone out of my way to make a way for my children to have contact with them. Though there has been no phone calls, no letters of interest, or any other attempts on the 'other' side to give assurance that the fears and pain that was caused with the separation and pending divorce would not be carried over into such contact.

Love doesn't cause pain.

The truth is that love has become passive, abusive, and a shadow of its former self.

If love doesn't make you feel good, delight and tantalize you with the newest and strength of its beckoning allure, it isn't love.

If we look, though, to the highest expression of love by a human being....a human that was fully human and fully God.....we see what love truly is and find ourselves with our own limited, blinded, and foolish definitions of love to be sorely missing of the mark.

Christ hung for three hours upon a cross of wood, iron spikes brutally hammered into his hands and feet with a crown of thorns mashed into his head. He did this only after hours of beatings, verbal and physical abuse, and an assortment of horrors that only humanity can be capable of upon itself.

In the most painful form of applied death known at the time, he hung by those iron spikes.....and gave a thief hope while allowing the other the fruit of his hatred.

When he knew that his human life was ending after thirty-six years of living, he saw his mother's pain and gave her solace in the arms of another he loved.

He looked out upon the landscape of the arrayed humanity watching their 'justice' being fulfilled and begged his Father's forgiveness for them......."for they know not what they do..."

That is love. Pure, uncorrupted Love.

It was this highest expression of love that caused Christ to shout out as his final breath was drawn and cry out in anguish, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Rejected by a Holy and Pure Father as he had to have been, taking the stain and death of mankind's sin upon his body.

That is love.

It was that love that kept him upon the path to that cross, even after he asked for 'this cup' to pass away from his lips, but only if it was in the will of the Father who sent him. It was this love that caused him to heal the solider's ear which Peter had sliced off, as they gathered around with irons and chains clinking in the night air. It is this love that caused him the greatest pain.

That is love.

Yet his love for us caused him not to stray from his course and complete the mission that he had undertook three years prior. Death upon the Cross, to be offered up as the blameless Lamb for the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

We are saved by that Love and called to live that Love.

It isn't easy.

I often feel like I am hanging on a cliff, by one single digit of my weakest hand, just the tip of that finger gripping the edge and holding me from the impending drop to certain and painful death. I am tired, sore, and weary of hanging on. Yet, I won't let go. I will not give up that fragile hold upon the life that I have been given.

Unless another was ready to fall..........................

Then I will, to save another.....physically, or spiritually...I will let go of my selfishness and save another.........

All I have left to give in this world; far beyond money, shelter, food, and clothing............

Is my life, in service and in sacrifice for another.

We are all called to serve as Christ served the church; to love our wives with that purest expression of love, to give our lives so that another might live. It may not be a physical death.......it may be a living 'death', of denial of self for another's sake......but it is death all the same.

So our hearts will not be hardened. So our love will represent God's love.

A complete, encompassing, and purest love..........................

Agape love

Divine love.....................................

And within that death that love causes us to experience, we find ourselves alive in His wonder and His grace.................

to save the hearts of those lost in the darkness.

"Plusquam ferrea aut lapidea corda esse oportet, quae non emolliet tam incomparabilis divini amoris suavitas"

(Those hearts must be harder than iron or stone which are not softened by such incomparable sweetness of divine love.) --John Calvin, French theologian

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