Monday, January 29, 2007

Unconditional Love: Part 1

You may recall my asking you, at the beginning of the year, to pray for three things for me; namely, love, humility and wisdom. Not long afterwards, I recounted here some of the lessons God had been teaching me about humility. I hope I have also been learning about wisdom along the way.

But love has always seemed the most elusive. "Love" ... what is it really?? I have sometimes wondered if others feel the same way; hence the tremendous popularity for "grace" over the past few years. That it, could it be that it's really love we're talking about?

Love is the greatest thing. I learn this from 1 Corinthians 13 ("the greatest of these is love") and very powerfully in the two Great Commandments (both in the old and new covenants); essentially, love God and love others.

So I knew I needed to learn more about love. I also recognized some clear weaknesses in my life related to love; like not caring at all or enough about things I knew I needed to care about. (Because what we care about is such a huge part of who we are and what we do. Eg, if you couldn't care less about missions, you will probably be pretty useless when it comes to what God is doing around the world. Ouch.)

This all said, I believe God has been teaching me a lot about love recently. Now, before you jump to conclusions, ;) I must warn you that I am not talking about romantic love (one of the most complicated forms as, so often, it just isn't love), but about the conditionality of love: ie, unconditional love vs. conditional love.
This specific adventure began last week as I pondered how much we tie love to our performance. I started writing. And little did I know what an adventure I was launching into.

It is an adventure that I am still on. I don't know when it will end (maybe it won't). But I thought I would invite you to join me on this adventure. And, although it is just "Part 1" and very incomplete even in and of itself, I thought I would post it on this blog anyway - for your edification and feedback.

And so the journey of G.O. (love God, love others, Go) continues.


Unconditional Love: Part 1

Unconditional Love

While traveling with George earlier this year, we passed by a little church in a small suburban town. The "message of the week" on the bulletin board outside the church read, "If you want to be loved, be loveable."

Now stop. I'm going to ask you to do something that you, if you don't do it, I think you'll regret. Here's what I want you to do: grab a pen and a little piece of paper--or click "compose" to write an email to yourself--and write at least a short sentence on what you think of this statement: the truth (if any) and the untruth (if any) of it. If you want to get even more out of this exercise, write more. Avoid the temptation of reading on before doing this, because what you write on this piece of paper will be your reference point for what you believed, or at least felt, before reading what follows.

Disclaimer: I would be very surprised if anything I say here is original. It has probably all been said before (eg, by C.S. Lewis in "The Four Loves"... I don't know, I haven't read it), and it probably isn't even very profound. But I hope this thought-study helps you nonetheless.

Back to that statement: "If you want to be loved, be loveable." Of all the messages he could have chosen that week, the pastor chose this one. Perhaps he coined it himself. Perhaps he read it in a book of quotes. Perhaps something that happened the previous week motivated him to choose this message; like a self-pitying church member who, really, needed to work on being more loveable.

"If you want to be loved, be loveable." Surely there is great truth in this statement. Come on people, get with the program: stop whining about how nobody loves you and try to make it a little easier for them. Stop complaining, brush your teeth, do random acts of kindess, make sacrifices for others, think a little less about yourself, avoid dressing frumpily, for everyone else's sake get those braces. In a word, if you want to be loved, be more Christ-like. After all, is not the message of the Gospel a message of transformation?

What if I ended this discussion here? What would you think? Would you say, "You're right, Nigel, the least I can do in the effort to be loved is to be a little more loveable - for everyone else's sake!" If I asked you to write it down--"If you want to be loved, be loveable"--and to stick it on your mirror to read every morning before starting your day, would you do it?

Now I'm going to tell you what I think about this statement. To be honest, when I first read it, it made me feel a little uneasy. I wasn't sure why then, but now I do. Here's what I think of this statement now: I think it is from the pit. Not only that, I believe it is one of the most-believed lies Christians (let alone others) fall prey to.

One of the goals of this thought-study is to explain why. And then to present the God-solution.

I am positive that the pastor had no ill intentions, but by posting that message outside his church he was guilty of propagating a message of great evil not only to his church members (his "sheep"), but the whole community--everyone who read that sign--even passers-by like me. No doubt, he did it with all sincerity and the best of intentions. But as the saying goes, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Hence the need for truth. Indeed, if the evil one can cause you to believe this "be loveable" message, he will have deceived you into one of the greatest deceptions there is; namely, the deception of a love that is conditional.
ar TORONTO, CANADA | 2023+



27 Sat (1) 11am Commencement speaker at R. University, (2) ~3pm+ time w/ V/AR+
29 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer, (2) 3pm mtg DerCh - Mississauga
30 Tue (1) 10am ph call (AA), (2) 5:30pm video mtg (IsTan), (3) 8pm neighbourhood prayer mtg

1 Thu (1) 11:30am Zoom mtg (LM), (2) 4pm mtg (VS,KBr)
2 Fri (1) 10:30am ph call (PVDW; SL w/ boys; ~J working)
3 Sat SL w/ boys and MG
5 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer mtg, (2) 2pm Europe call, (3) 5pm mtg/walk (YM)
6 Tue (1) 11:30am lunch (GD) - St. Jacobs, (2) 4pm mtg (AF) - Cambridge, (3) 7:30pm worship night
9 Fri ~J's b'day
10 Sat North Bay trip
13 Tue 11am mtg (DAy) (~J school trip w/ ~Co | text BD)
14 Wed 9:30am time w/ BD
15 Thu 4:30pm video mtg (Paul T.)
16 Fri (1) 9am video med appt, (2) 15-km run (Prayer Journey "warm-up")
17 Sat Prayer Journey (my own: 50km GTA bike-ride; Jessie's: 5KM) and speaking at GTA after-party
23-25 Fri-Sat poss. SL
26 Mon 2pm Europe monthly call
29 ... July 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas

... 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas
~8-17 SA+ in Toronto; P/H Bell likely visiting too
15 Sat aft+ baptism (Saj; NaB may be coming)
17-21 Mon-Fri Kids Kapers camp
24 Mon 2:45pm med. appt
26 Wed (1) 11am video mtg (SM), (2) 3pm Zoom mtg (SMa,SB), (3) 7pm ~J speaking at Greenhouse/Zoe - UofT downtown
27 Thu 10am video MVT board mtg
31 Mon 3:05pm med. appt
July/Aug CCWM board mtg / AGM

2 Wed 11am video mtg (SM+)
6-12 Sun-Fri Cottage w/ O/DN+ and UB/AC - Windermere; plus Muskoka
19 Sat poss. ~J fam beach day - Brighton area
25-29 Fri-Tue MoveIn staff retreat - southern Ontario

Sep 21 Thu - MVT board mtg
Sep 23 Sat poss. date of GV memorial
Sep 24 Sun ~Ch's b'day
Sep ~26-28 Poss. time in Lushnjë, Albania
Sep 29 - Oct 6 MoveIn Europe Conference+ - Durrës, Albania
Oct 21 Sat poss./unlikely date of GV memorial
Oct 21-27 Dollar-a-Day week
Early Nov Poss. fundraising event - Niagara
Nov-Jan Poss. time in India - Goa; Philippines - Manila+; Indonesia - Jakarta/Bali; LA/San Diego