Thursday, February 11, 2021

Meditate on God's Unfailing Love

Monroe court house

I begin each day by going into the upstairs office in our old home (1863), sitting in my La-Z-Boy office chair, before the large screen on my computer. 

I pull up the NIV Cultural Background Study Bible. I pick up where I left off in Psalms and Proverbs.

I have been stuck on Psalm 48:9 for several days.

Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.

Something slow and deep was happening in the temple. Something repetitive, because that is what meditation does. It repeats. Over and over, again and again. It gets inside of you. You find yourself experiencing and living it.

I must do something with this verse, today.

I will meditate on God's unfailing love.

God is love. Love forms the very being of God. "Love" is an essential attribute of God. God cannot not-love. Christian Trinitarian Theism best expresses this. God is a three-personed being. God is, essentially, a being-in-relationship. God as Father-Son-Spirit makes conceptual sense of the idea that God is love. Love is relational. Love requires an "other," an object to-be-loved.

God cannot not-love me. This does not restrict God. God does not love me because there is some command external to his being he must follow. God is love, therefore all God's thoughts and actions are loving. God's love for me is genuine. When God thinks of me, he has a good feeling. God likes me. I am God's child, his son. God made me, and what he has made God calls "very good." I am deeply loved by God. Nothing can change this.

God expressed his love by coming to us, rather than making us find him. God came, in the Son, to "sozo" us; i.e., to "save" us. Love came down to rescue me. "For God so loved the world..." Michael Brown et. al. write that the New Testament usage of sozo means, "to rescue, save, deliver, preserve from danger, etc." (212) "James 5:15 in particular provides an excellent example of the holistic usage of sozo." (213) The sick person will be "raised up," forgiven, and "made well" (sozo). Sozo includes being healed, made whole, and delivered, and is applied not simply to individuals but to people groups and cultures. I am sozo-ed. I am loved, by God.

God is so loving that he does not affirm everything I think or say or feel or do. If God affirmed everything I think or say or feel or do, then the cross would be unnecessary. God's love leads us to repentance. This is an essential component of my conversion story. (Romans 2:4) Put simply, Christ died for my sins, and called "Follow me." This is love.

From God's POV love is "the greatest" of the triad faith, hope, and love. Of these three, love is the highest. Without love, the kind exemplified in the sin-defeating love of Christ, I am nothing.

Love is not impatient. Love waits. Love waits for others. Love doesn't get ahead of others. Patience is consideration. Love considers. This is how God loves me, and how I am to love others.

Love is not unkind. Love never speaks un-loving words, for that would be the antithesis of love. Love speaks kindly. Love is soft and true. This is how God speaks to me, and how I am to speak to others. This morning I read Proverbs 16:21 in the Passion Translation.

The one with a wise heart is called “discerning,” 
and speaking sweetly to others 
makes your teaching even more convincing.

Love does not envy or boast. Love is free from human hierarchies of comparison. Love does not measure itself against others. In this way, love is free. God does not compare me with others. This is how I am to love others.

Love does not dishonor others. Love looks to honor others before one's own self. Love does not go after self-honor. Love loves to see others get honor. Love is free from the need to be in the spotlight. Love does not "upstage" others. Love moves behind the curtain. I am to love others like this.

Love is not self-seeking. Love looks toward God and the well-being of others. Love puts God first, and others second. Love is satisfied with third place, or not placing at all. This is how freeing the love of God is. I am free to love others with no expectation of reciprocity.

Love is not easily angered. Love doesn't get irritated or ticked off. Love isn't irascible, petulant, or inconvenienced. Love is interruptible. God has all the time in and beyond the world for me. I have an eternity of love for others. 

Love lets go of past offenses. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Because of this, love sleeps peacefully at night. There's no bitterness or resentment in love. To forgive others is one of love's greatest accomplishments. God has gone to great personal lengths to forgive me. Thus, I forgive others, for this is the unfailing love of God.

Love does not delight in evil. There's nothing evil does that makes love happy. Love never enables evil. Nor does love partner with evil.

Love does not rejoice with falsehood. Love rejoices with the truth. Love doesn't throw a party when "1+1=3." Love loves light, not darkness. Love has no shades of gray. Love draws lines. Love uses words like 'wrong', 'right', 'true', 'false', 'good', 'bad'.

Love always protects. Love is responsible for the other. Love shelters. Love takes a bullet meant for the beloved. Love is a shield. God's love has built a fortress around me.

Love always trusts. This is because love trusts in God. Love is not naive because of this. Love doesn't trust an ax-murderer with an ax, but trusts that God is greater than he who is in the world.

Love always hopes. Love expects, therefore love prepares. Because God's love dwells in me, I am prepared to love others, unfailingly.

Love always perseveres. Love never gives up. Love never fails. Love hangs in there. Love stays. Love scores 100%, every time. Love wins.

Love is the thing that will last. Love ever-lasts. Love remains when others depart. 

Faith and hope are great things, but love is greater. Faith and hope are manifestations of love. Love is the genus, faith and hope are species; love is the genius, faith and hope learn at love's feet.

We are to love one another. The mark of a Jesus-follower is: "See how they love one another." When love is instantiated the revolution has begun. I have been marked by God with his love.

I am to love those who are against me. I am built to love my enemies, while not affirming their behaviors. Love doesn't get more radical than this. This is the "Mt. Everest" of love; love's summum bonum. When love displays itself this way the earth trembles, the heavens open, jaws drop, eyes open, and skeptics reconsider.

If I love Jesus, then I keep his commands. One of his commands is: Love your enemies. Here logic kicks in. The technical term for this is modus ponens.

1. If A, then B.
2. A.
3. Therefore, B.

Such as:

1. If it rains, then the ground gets wet.
2. It is raining.
3. Therefore, the ground gets wet.

Such as:

1. If I love Jesus, then I keep his commands.
2. I love Jesus.
3. Therefore, I keep his commands.

I love God, I love others, and I love my enemies. Just as surely as rain causes the ground to get wet.

Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.