Thursday, January 12, 2006

Love, True Love

The week-long wetness and drains-turned-waterfalls found some solace in hot handmade noodles
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and no drinks at One Rochester because we wanted real red meat


and so trekking past vast alien distilleries


to Botak Jones for Bernie ("Thinks He's The Boss") and Zee ("The Boss")'s red meat steak and burgers [though they have this week gotten themselves a spanking new outlet at AMK Ave 5]
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and also the happy Ben & Jerry's, because ice-creams are best in (1) whipping winters in Leicester Square, (2) tropical monsoons crawling along highways at 20km/h, seeing only the hazard lights of the vehicle in front of you and (3) love.
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Love, True Love...

not soppy, airy, dreamy, mistletoe-y and seasonal.

not quite the sham marriage between the unfortunately but aptly named Prince Humperdinck and the heroine, Buttercup in "The Princess Bride", where the Impressive Clergyman with half a brain, impressive whiskers and an unfortunate speech impediment memorably intoned:"wuv, twoo wuv, wiw fowwow you fowever...".

not quite the wimpy hero song that is still taking my office by storm; 光良's 童话:

忘了有多久 再没听到你对我说你最爱的故事
我想了很久 我开始慌了 是不是我又做错了什么
你哭着对我说 童话里都是骗人的 我不可能是你的王子
也许你不会懂 从你说爱我以后 我的天空 星星都亮了
我愿变成童话里 你爱的那个天使 张开双手变成翅膀守护你
你要相信 相信我们会像童话故事里 幸福和快乐是结局
我要变成童话里 你爱的那个天使 张开双手变成翅膀守护你
你要相信 相信我们会像童话故事里 幸福和快乐是结局
我会变成童话里 你爱的那个天使 张开双手变成翅膀守护你
你要相信 相信我们会像童话故事里 幸福和快乐是结局
一起写我们的结局

but in tough love in that 1 Corinthians 13 (I Can't Believe It's Love!™) way.

Chris Chia's useful sermon last weekend elucidated some aspects of this tuff luff stuff. A very good way to start the new year:

The Corinthian World and Value System
Caesar stuffed Corinth with retired soldiers and old politicians. They were fairly well-to-do people with no need to work, loads of leisure and spent their money supporting patronage systems. Corinthian goals were all for (1) making money; (2) winning power; and (3) gaining honour. And so the accompanying Corinthian value system was all for (1) status and winning at all costs; (2) reputation and looking good at all costs; and (3) ambition and climbing the ranks at all costs.

The Corinthian Christians
When some Corinthians became Christian, they assumed that they had changed from their pagan ways. But what had actually happened was that they had rebaptised their old Corinthian value system into Christian terms. One expression of these unchanged selves was the obsession with spiritual gifts: who has the most gifts? Who has the best gifts? Who is most spiritual?

The Supremacy of Love
Let me show you, said Paul, not more excellent gifts but a more excellent way (12:31): the way of love.

The Corinthians thought that the measure of a Christian was their spirituality: measured by spectacular gifts, absolute philanthropy, great sacrifices.

Paul emphasises, not the type of gifts, but the use of those gifts. Both the gift and the person who exercises that gift are useless without love. If a Christian dispenses his duty without love, both the act and the person are worthless! Some divine mathematical formula renders an act without love and a person without love as valueless. (13:1-3).

The Character of Love
So what does this love look like?

Love, true love, is the love that God shows us. Love for the unlovely and unloveable.

Love is patient (13:4). Patience doesn't just mean tolerating a horrible situation or a unpleasant person (usually because we can't do anything about it or him/her). Patience is about long-suffering, the same long-suffering of God towards us. It is an active decision not to retaliate, even though we have the ability to.

Love is kind (13:4). Kindness is not just the willingness but the quickness to do what is kind, even towards those who hurt us or unjustly accuse us. As we minister to others, as we pray for the sick, comfort the dying, teach and shepherd others, we will be hurt. So it's not that we won't be hurt or that we don't acknowledge our hurt, but that our hurt does not matter anymore. (Assumedly because only love matters.)

Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way (13:4-5). Love is not self-centered and self-interested. Rather than being empty and devoid of others and their best interests, love is all about others and doing what is best for them.

Love is not irritable or resentful (13:5). Love doesn't lie in wait for an opportunity to jump at people, to fly off the handle, to see wrong in others or in situations.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (13:6). More than not delighting in obvious sins, Don Carson suggests that this means not being happy and quick to poke holes in things, or point out the faults of others, or endulge almost as a hobby, in endless discussions on what is wrong with the local church, other churches, various ministries, leaders...

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (NIV, 13:7). Love always gives people the benefit of the doubt, even in the face of repeated failures or disappointments. It is not cynical. It does not sneer at people's efforts (no matter how cannot-make-it they may seem). It doesn't give up on difficult people and move on to the more interesting or easier to handle or less demanding. It wants very much to present everyone, that is, everyone, perfect in Christ.

The Permanence of Love
God is love. Love is the ultimate characteristic of God. Therefore, as God is from eternity to eternity, as God is forever more, so is love. It will never fail (13:8). It will never pass away.

Do We Love?
Jonathan Edwards has said that what makes a church like heaven is the love that is given and received between God's precious people.

Like the Corinthians, we too live in a world that values status, reputation and ambition. Maybe that's why our marriages, our families, and even our ministries tend to have as their goal status, reputation and ambition.

If an outsider walks into the midst of our church family, will he notice not the leaders, nor the teaching, nor the gifts, but love?

If he does not, then we are worthless in God's eyes.

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2 Comments:

At January 16, 2006 12:40 pm , Anonymous clay said...

hi shadow,

i'm looking for blog that can classify or i can group my posts.
i know that mine using tabulas can't do it, and your blog has that function (not sure whether you made yourself or is provided).

happy belated new year :))

clay

 
At February 03, 2006 10:47 am , Blogger shadow said...

Oops! Sorry, Clay. Didn't see this till now!

What classifications are you wanting? By month or title? My month classifications are html latched onto existing Blogger language. My title classications are done the old hard way: manually. ;-)

Mail me if you need more clarification.

 

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