Friday, July 22, 2011

Lewis Smedes and Love Within Limits

Linda, in Ann Arbor

Lewis Smedes was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a wise, profound author on the Jesus-life. I read, e.g., his excellent Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve twice, and have turned to it multiple times. Smedes's autobiography My God and I: A Spiritual Memoir, is a killer book that Linda and I both loved and gained much from.

Today, in my prepping for preaching 1 Corinthians 13 this Sunday at Redeemer, I'm reading Craig Blomberg's 1 Corinthians commentary. Blomberg cites Smedes's Love Within Limits: Realizing Selfless Love in a Selfish World. Blomberg's summary of Smedes is worth quoting in full.

"Lewis Smedes... notes that God has limits to his patience, and so must we, but “when I turn off suffering for the sake of my pleasure, I turn it off too soon.” Neither does patience include the toleration of evil. Kindness is both intelligent and tough; “without wisdom and honesty,” it “easily becomes mere pity, bound to hurt more people than it helps.” Agape transcends jealousy without destroying it; it is right, for example, to be upset when someone runs off with your spouse! “Love does not move us to seek justice for ourselves,” but it should “drive us to move heaven and earth to seek justice for others.” Agape does not disguise or unleash anger; it does not remove irritants from our lives or reduce irritability by forbidding anger. Rather it meets our deepest needs, enabling us to respond differently to enraging circumstances, reduces the potential for frustration, gives us the power to communicate anger appropriately, and increases our gratitude for the way God has worked in our lives." (Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, Kindle location 5741)