Love mixed up

There is a presupposition that runs through theses posts which can be distilled to some thing like: the good life is a life caught up with the love of God and the love of neighbour.’ The last post touched a little on noting how the way we use love leads to the word being tainted with self-serving meaning. The following is another thought provoking quote concerning this:

“Love, love — the word is always ringing in our ears, but when is it not mixed up with something else? Love and the desire to possess, love and the need to control, love and the need to be needed, love and the lust to absorb, love and condescension, love and narcissism. In the Christian mystery love itself must be crucified, must die to be reborn as the grace of communion, as love set free.”

[from: Meditations on the Passion of St. John, Martin L. Smith]

If we are to be people who ‘love our neighbour’ and people who live out God’s love in the world in such a way that others experience it for their good, then we have to be people who are always present. To be present is to be fully aware: present and aware to the moment, present and aware of others, present and aware of ourselves and importantly present and aware of the Presence of God and what the Holy Spirit is up to in any situation. If we are present in this way then we are free to respond to God, and act in true love. However, there is much in us that acts contrary to this, there is potential in us to hold a whole arsenal of personal weapons of mass destruction. Rather than responding to God we respond to desires, which are self serving — when these are fully rooted they become “needs”: The ‘need’/desire to:

  • be right [or as Brian McLaren wisely notes we wish to be ‘perceived to be right’ (or ‘not be misunderstood’)]
  • stay in control
  • [have a] hidden agenda
  • [hold] personal advantage [and McLaren makes the point that we also play games of group, denomination, or national advantage]
  • be undisturbed
  • look/appear good [not just visually, and does not meaning any visual aethetic is inherently wrong]
  • feel good [again needs nuance-ing]

[Some of these need a little expansion to avoid them becoming a new form of puritanism, the list is based on some old B. Mumford notes I discovered last week – the same place I found the quote and poem, and with some interpretation I believe there’s some vital wisdom to be gleamed from these]
These “needs”/desires cripple us from living freely and lightly and from responding to the activity of God in the world. I think it is apparent that the stating point for movement away from these is trust, trust that the way of God is safe and the real life, the enduring life. These seven weapons of mass destruction are counter-stories in which we put our confidence, to ‘repent and believe’ is, I think, a moving of trust from one set of stories oriented around ourselves to the story of God.

Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to.

Psalm 119:77 The Message

So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?
… Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

Romans 6:1,2,5 The Message


One response to “Love mixed up”

  1. […] following is a helpful inclusion to the mix of the previous posts on love, and should offer some balance to them. This is Dan Wilt reflecting on the Four Degrees Of Love by […]

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