I shared this passage about Christian love, written by Richard P. McBrien, with the senior high group that meets on Sunday evenings at First Presbyterian Church. I thought it beautifully illustrated two points. First, if we intend to love as Christ did, we must stop being consumed with ourselves. Second, the opposite of love is a lack of concern or apathy. Following is the quote from Catholicism found on page 939.
If we are really to love as Christ intends, we have to overcome our own narcissism. We must strive for objectivity in every situation and become sensitive to the situations where objectivity eludes us. We must see the difference between our picture of another and the other’s behavior, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the way the other really is, apart from our own interests, needs, fears, and “hang-ups.” Christian loving also means readiness to take risks, to accept pain and disappointment. It means using one’s human powers productively. Loving demands a state of intensity and commitment. Christian love cannot coexist with indifference. Indeed, the opposite of love is not hate but apathy, a lack of concern, a suspension of commitment (literally, apathy means to be “without pain”).
Making a commitment to “love as Christ intends” involves taking a risk and overcoming fear. If that is done, lives and communities will be changed through Christ’s love. Check out 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 and read what Paul has to say about Christian love.
In our Sunday morning education hour, the sixth through twelfth grade students have been studying the classic hymn, “Amazing Grace” by John Newton. This past Sunday, we took a look at the second verse of the song which goes as follows:
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed
The word that stood out to me in the second verse is “precious”. The definition of the adjective precious is “ofhighpriceorgreatvalue;veryvaluableorcostly”. We can add Grace to precious and get the term precious Grace. Precious Grace could be defined as the gift of Grace from God that is of great value and costly. The question then becomes, “Why is God’s gift of Grace precious?” I immediately thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his book Cost of Discipleship. The quote that came to mind that explains why Grace is precious, and therefore valuable and costly, goes as follows:
“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
We were bought at a great price so that we can be united with God, through salvation in Christ, thereby giving up our old lives of sin and living our new lives in Grace for the purpose of God’s glory. Amazing Grace, indeed!
I began reading The Confessions of St. Augustine and came across this passage where he is describing God.
What are Thou then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong, stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. Thou lovest, without passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not, art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. Thou receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing nothing. And what had I now said, My God, my life, my holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to him that speaketh not, since mute are even the most eloquent.
Following is a clip from the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. In it, Ben Stein interviews atheist Richard Dawkins and asks him how the heavens and the earth were created trying to find out how he believes life began. I was amazed that the best answer Dawkins could come up with was that basically aliens came and “seeded” life on earth. Even if that were true, how did the alien life forms begin who brought life to earth? For someone who doesn’t believe God exists, Dawkins seems to be doing some mental gymnastics to try to figure out a way to exclude God from the conversation when he can’t give a reasonable explanation of how life started. The specific exchange I mention begins at 2:35 of the clip.
I am reading the book “Back to Virtue” by Peter Kreeft. On page 23, he writes:
The premodern practical philosophy, or life view, flowed from the premodern theoretical philosophy, or world world view: there is a God; therefore conform to him. The modern life view flows from the modern world view: there is no God; therefore we play God to the world. Both philosophies are consistent, but one of the two must be wrong, disastrously wrong.
Which philosophy do you think is “disastrously wrong”?
Last night, I had a dream about my dad. He died seven and a half years ago from cancer. I don’t dream often about him but when I do I am either totally surprised to see him in my dream and ask him “What are you doing here?” or I hug him in a tearful embrace. This time though, something ended up being different. In my dream, when I saw him, I raised my arm up silently as if to say “What’s up?” and he asked me “How are you doing?” I then walked up to him and we hugged. The difference this time was, instead of being tearful and anxious when we hugged, I was calm and full of joy. The hug we shared was in complete love and calm and peace. It was the most wonderful embrace I could imagine. Because of it, I woke up with a smile and a special memory I won’t soon forget.
I believe that the hug I shared with my dad in a dream this morning is a foreshadowing of the embrace we will get from Christ when we meet him face to face. An embrace of total love and calm and peace. Maybe he will even ask me “How are you doing?” If he does, I bet I will say, “I’m good”. . . with a smile!
I took a photo of this Hosta plant last night after it rained. It happened to catch my eye as I got out of my car when I returned home from work. When I look at this photo, I think about the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Proof of God’s work is all around us but, unfortunately, we can forget to stop looking. Keep looking. You will see incredible things.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Last night, I stumbled across a documentary on Netflix titled “Superheroes”. It is about people in real life who have taken on super hero personas and are trying to make a difference in their communities. At first, the people highlighted in the documentary seemed a bit off and I guess you could say strange. But, a surprising twist happened in the documentary at 1:06:55. The documentary highlighted how the superheroes were serving the community through toy drives and visiting the homeless on the streets and giving them supplies. This was happening in places like Orlando, New York and San Diego. Below is the link to the documentary on Youtube. Go to the 1:06:55 mark.
What these men and women are doing, whether they know it or not, is showing the love of Christ to others in their communities.
The character Thanatos said two statements that stood out to me.
People have to be shown that people care.
There’s always been heroes. Just lately is seems there hasn’t been any and the world needs them.
Thanatos is right. As Christians, we have to show people Christ’s love and our faith through our actions and commitment. We have to show them that we know the ultimate super hero. The only super hero the world needs.
I ran across this turtle at Camp Storer near Jackson, Michigan this weekend. The whole weekend was a reminder of God’s wondrous creation. Look at this guy. He couldn’t have have been created more perfect.