Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Loving those who Love us.

Luke 6:32-35 (ESV)
"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. [34] And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. [35] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. “
Love, the world thinks it knows love. Paul talks about love in 1 Cor. 13. He talks about love being patient and kind etc. Paul’s description of love captures the imagination. It litters the halls of Christian kitsch, you can find it on anything from a pen to a blanket. Even the secular world grabs hold of it’s sentiment. Yet the world knows little of what this kind of love really entails. Christians aren’t immune to its abuse either. The world knows a selfish love that masquerades as selfless. We get it confused with eros all too often.
Jesus uses the word agape, it wasn’t a very commonly used word in Greek. Jesus filled it with new meaning.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?” I mean the answer is supposed to be none. That is the implication. You get no reward from God for merely loving those who love you. Something to that effect. Even sinners do that he says. Here he shows how bitterly we fail in life. How short we fall from the glory of God. Yes, even sinners do that. You do that. And that is about all you do. We love those who love us. We love hoping to be loved in return. When we aren’t we stop loving. Or if we don’t perceive we are being loved in return we stop loving. So Christian marriage counseling has taken up ”The Five Languages of Love.” We try to strengthen marriages coaxing husbands and wives to realize we don’t always give love the same way we receive love, and what communicates love to one person doesn’t communicate love to another. Yes this leads to divorce between people who love each other and just don’t know how to show it. This is who we are, sinners. What benefit do we receive from loving those who love us? Well materially and socially there are all sorts of benefits to be received by this game of quid pro quo. In life it may be the only love a person ever knows. Yes, because we are sinners. In fact as sinners, this is our limit.
Not so, Jesus. Jesus knows a different love. He knows agape. He loves you even though you hate him. He loves you despite all. He loves his enemies. What did he benefit from that? This world gave him a cross. You can expect the same for your love. The world despises this love. Love someone for whom you receive no love in return. But it is what Jesus did. It was the only way forgiveness could enter the world. It is this love we receive. Now, we still haven’t figured out how to love those who don’t love us. But because he loved us, we love him, and loving him we love those whom he loves. He gives us reason to love. He gives us love itself. And with his love comes meaning and purpose to life. Without it we would live as if life itself had died. Life itself, though, did die, it died when we killed the author of life, but dying he rose again to gives us new life. Live it, love it, because Christ loves you.

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