Saturday, April 28, 2012

Love: Choice or Feeling?

“Love is not something we have or are, it is something we do.” 
Joseph Fletcher

I’ve talked before about how we cannot be ruled by our emotions. I’ve stated that our hearts are deceptive and we have to rely on the truth of God’s Word, not simply how we feel.

But I still believe that love includes feeling. 1 Peter 1:22 commands us to "Love one another earnestly from a pure heart", which I believe includes feeling. Sure, there may be times when we don’t feel like loving others, and we are still commanded to love in spite of how we feel, but I believe that part of our prayer should be that God would give us a desire to truly love from the heart, not just an outward choice.

“If we say that the biblical command to love has only to do with the will and not the feelings, we make it a very narrow and somewhat insipid command since it has little, then, to do with the usual way of relating to other people. I think, rather, that the command to love is a call to the deepest and most thoroughgoing sanctification… It is a call for a transformation which only God Himself can accomplish.” John Piper 

True, biblical love will require action and may sometimes go against our feelings, but when God transforms our hearts, He gives us a love for others that we ourselves do not have.

And yes, that is a feeling.


Katie

Monday, April 16, 2012

When it comes to opinions...

"As Christians, all of us (myself definitely included) regularly face the temptation to moralize our opinions. In other words, we can take something that we feel strongly about and attach a spiritual value to it. Then, when we see others who don’t live according to our standards, we can tend to look down on them or make them feel as if they are less godly than us.

The Bible is wonderfully exclusive as it is. It calls us to an incredibly high standard of holiness and Christ-likeness. It calls us to pursue righteousness and purity and faith along with everyone else who calls upon the name of the Lord. Let’s hold tightly to those standards and let’s hold to our opinions loosely. In the way we speak and the things we post on Facebook and the emails that we forward, let’s make it clear that the gospel is most important."

Stephen Altrogge, Hold to the Truth Tightly and Your Passionate Opinions Lightly


Katie

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I [God] hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me.

Now, drink my cup!

And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of God’s own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the Father’s cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past, present, and future — omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.

The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself. He looks away.

Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Silence.

Separation.

Jesus whispers, “I’m thirsty,” and he sags.

The merciful centurion soaks a sponge in sour wine and lifts it on a reed to Jesus’ lips. And the sour wine is the sweetest drink he ever tasted.

Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God has been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath dry.


From The Father's Cup, on Desiring God. Click here to read the whole story.

Katie

Peace

 Our world yearns for peace. People promote it, they long for it; they raise campaigns for world peace in hopes to make life better. They desire for the world to be one big happy family. Hoping for peace is admirable, but it is bigger than getting people to work together in harmony. True peace can only come from Christ. And thus Christians should be the most peaceable people. We are commanded to pursue and promote peace. But often times it is Christians who stir up problems, who create factions, who leave unresolved conflict because of differences or bitterness. We do not always look like the peaceful people we are called to be. Why is that?

Sin resides in the hearts of all men. Even as believers, we are not perfect. Sin creates chaos and destruction, and even among God’s people it can create discord, disunity and strife. We know that we will face conflict. Ronald Reagan conveyed, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Even in the midst of difficulty, believers have the ability to respond biblically to conflict and, “as far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone” (Rom. 12:18). In order to live at peace, we must first deal with our own sin.

When you sin against someone, it is your responsibility to go and make it right with them. You are required to seek forgiveness for what you have done wrong. Neglecting to do so does not promote peace and leaves room for people to become bitter towards you. Whenever there is conflict we must check our own hearts to see how we’ve sinned. Note I did not say if we have sinned, because it is probable in conflict that both have sinned. Perhaps we did not initiate the conflict, but our response in the midst may have been sinful. Whatever the circumstance, we must always begin with our own hearts.

Sometimes we are not or do not see ourselves as the cause of a relationship problem. Occasionally the reason we face conflict is because someone has sinned against us. How can we be at peace with someone who has hurt us? Whenever your brother sins against you, you are called to take the log out of your own eye before going to him (Matt. 7:5). This is to see that you indeed have cleansed your heart in the matter and go in a spirit of love and with a desire for restoration. Often times our views of others’ sins are skewed and turned into something huge, while we see our own sin as minute or perhaps not even sin. But God will hold all of us accountable, and our response to someone’s sin will be just as crucial as the sin that is committed against us.

Despite our desire for peace, in some circumstances we are unable to make complete peace. As Romans 12:18 says, we are to pursue peace as far as it depends on us. We must never give up on reaching peace and reconciliation with others, but since we cannot change others’ hearts, there are times when full reconciliation is not possible. In such circumstances we must not retaliate but instead entrust ourselves to the God who judges justly.

The reason we are not at peace with others is first an indicator of our relationship with God. If our relationship with God is not in order we cannot expect to have peace with others. The book of James says that conflict comes because of the wrong desires within us. We have to recognize those wrong desires and put forth the effort to seek God and His righteousness to live peaceably with others. While we won’t be perfect, our resolve to live at peace with others as far as it depends on us will shine forth brightly to a world desperate for peace.

Katie