Thursday, February 18, 2016

Genuine Love

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, [7] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13 (ESV)
Let love be genuine. Just let it.
I don’t know, there seems to be a Gordian knot here. Love is genuine or it is not. And what do I do if I just don’t feel the love? I suppose one can say “fake it till you make it.” And I have to say, I do like that philosophy. Except I’m not sure it is really faking it either.
It is not faking it. Love isn’t faked. It really can’t be. Perhaps in the realm of romantic love this runs true and is very good advice to a married couple. The feeling comes and goes, and even when it is gone, we might do well to fake it. Faking it often has the effect of bringing it back. But here he are talking about agape love, and we aren’t talking about a feeling. Love is a verb as much if not more than it is a noun. Let it be genuine, not faked.
So what am I saying? That if I don’t really feel brotherly to my brother but act so anyway I am sinning? Not at all. I want to ask you why you act that way? What is your motivation to act in a loving manner when in reality you would rather chop their heads off? You might even ask this in relation to your spouse? I will posit that the reason is love. Deep down the reason is love. You fake it, you withhold your anger, your overcome your very tired inner-sloth, your apathy and all else because you really do love. In other words, love is your motivation to love even when you aren’t feeling the love, even when you aren’t in a loving mood. And it is perhaps at that time that your true love is showing.
We all get high on love at one time or another. I think about when I was dating Laura and how somehow I had the energy to get everything done at church and drive an hour for our date to start, stay with her until all hours of the night, drive back and go to bed sometime between two and four in the morning, and get up at six. That is unsustainable, even at the time when everything felt possible, I knew I better marry her quick before I had a car accident. Even with agape love that we have for one another as Christians and fellow humans we go through phases like that, summer times when the loving is easy. But it does not mean the loving is any less genuine in the winter, when ostensibly the loving is difficult.

Let your love be genuine. Yes, love can be easier at times than others, but let it always be genuine, true love. There is an answer to this. It isn’t just “fake it till you make it” mode. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. His love is genuine. His love is true. This love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:5). This is why we love even when we don’t really want to! We love because the love of Christ is overflowing in us. The Holy Spirit has been given to us! Of course Paul here in Rom. 5 is talking about baptism. It is there that his love is “poured” into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, it is there that the Holy Spirit is given to us. But it doesn’t end in baptism. The Holy Spirit is an inexhaustible well of grace that keeps flowing. And we do well to remember this when it seems the well might be running dry. This is perhaps nothing more than a sign that the well hasn’t run dry, but we haven’t taken a drink in a while. So bottoms up, brother! This is when we need to hear the gospel again, this is why the Lord has given us his body and blood to eat and drink, that we might be sustained on his love which is the forgiveness of sins, his blood poured into our hearts. In this way we remain in him and him in us, and the love keeps flowing, his love that becomes our love, a love that is always genuine.  

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