Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Love is love, or is it?

 In English, the term “love” is used to cover a multitude of experiences. I love my husband and children. I love to hear a violin played well.  I love my dogs. I love to walk on a lonely beach. I love writing. I love fresh fruit salad with yoghurt.  It would be ridiculous to believe that I love all these things and people in the same way, to the same degree. We do have a few other descriptions which would probably be appropriate – whilst I love my husband, I enjoy walking on the beach, I relish writing well and I appreciate a flavoursome meal.
The ancient Greek language, one of the three languages in which the Bible was originally written, (the other two being Hebrew and Aramaic) had four different terms for love, which described distinctly different love relationships. Perhaps in the light of twenty-first century western culture with its current catchcry of “love is love” we should consider again these Biblical terms:

Agape love – is the unconditional love of God. When we become Christians, this love which is from God to man, also indwells each of us by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to extend God’s love to others.
It’s God’s agape love which enables us to follow the commandment to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44).  This unique love is a powerful witness to non-Christians.

Philia love- is the deep bond of friendship. There is nothing sexual about this love. It is a joy of companionship, a feeling of trust and comfort in the relationship. 

Storge love is the love formed through family bonds e.g. the love of a parent for a child, for siblings, or through a family group that has permanently formed together, e.g. a church family.

Eros- erotic love is that which involves sexuality, the physical attraction with a desire for sexual contact with another.  Biblically, the consummation of erotic love belongs only in a husband and wife relationship.

We live in a fallen world, one which is decaying physically and morally.  The Bible tells us since the fall of mankind “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). Love is no exception. It has been reinvented, used and redefined beyond what its original Creator designed it to be.  The love of God is largely ignored or denied in our self-centred, western culture. Sexual love has been perverted into sexual lust and magnified until in many cases it becomes a monster that enslaves and ultimately destroys. The traditional family unit with its strong bonds of storge love is under attack as never before.

There is heartache in so many relationships which should be loving. There is a blurring of boundaries in some cases which produces abuse- physical, emotional and sexual.

Yet God is still in the business of redeeming mankind. Because of love, He gave His Son to this fallen world. Because of love, Jesus bore our sins on the cross. I believe that it is only when we are in right relationship with our Creator and Heavenly Father that we are able to extend His love to others and be in right relationships with other people. When we commit our lives to God, we have the opportunity to know a true love beyond all earthly compare. Here are just a few examples of how the Bible describes God’s love:

“Unfailing love” (Psalms)
“a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. ...Proverbs 18:24
“He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:16)

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43:4)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

These are just a small selection of the many verses in the Bible which tell of God’s love for all mankind, and His longing to be in fellowship with each individual through the grace given to us by His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I desire to pray for each person reading this. May these verses which Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus, be just as applicable for each individual reading them here today:

“ For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What the Bible doesn't say.

Two thought provoking items I've seen on the internet recently professed that the Bible doesn't say anything about abortion, and that the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexual marriage. Both items were presented by ordained ministers from mainstream churches.

I wonder what the agenda is of these people. Do they really believe what they're saying? Are they trying to be politically correct in a society which increasingly is demanding that the church, irrespective of the doctrine of the separation of church and state, submit to its values? Apparently that doctrine only works one way.

You could argue, of course, that the Bible doesn't say anything about a lot of things- it doesn't mention concentration camps for example. It doesn't name tarot cards or Ouija boards. It doesn't specifically say don't have sex in the back of a car with a new acquaintance on your first date. It doesn't tell you not to claim expenses on your tax return that you haven't actually accrued. Therefore, if the Bible is silent on these things, we can assume that God doesn't consider them important, right?

Absolutely wrong.

One of the most basic formulas learned in the beginnings of algebra is that :
 if a= b    and if   b=c    then   a must equal c.  Any variable that we call c will be equal to a.

Lets consider the same equations in terms of God. God gives us the specific in Exodus 20:13 "You shall not murder."  Murder is deliberately taking human life. Genocide is taking human life. Abortion is taking human life. Euthanasia and the disposal of unwanted IVF embryos is taking human life. If God says "Don't kill" and abortion is killing an unwanted human, then God is saying, don't commit abortion. Don't gas people in concentration camps. Don't poison your spouse. In fact, don't kill in any other way you can think of.

If the Bible says "Do not practice homosexuality" in both the Old and New Testaments (eg. Leviticus 18:22, Romans 26,27) and we regard homosexual marriage as homosexuality (!), does God need to specify homosexual marriage in the Bible? When God says "Don't commit adultery" and we consider an overnight stand when away at a work conference adultery, does God need to specify such an event? When God says "Flee from fornication" (1 Corinthians 6:18) with fornication being sexual practices outside of marriage, does He need to outline every possible situation? When God says "“Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:31), does that mean Ouija boards are okay because they're not mentioned? Absolutely not!

The truth is that the Bible gives us the overriding principles to live by. If we then indulge in practices which contradict these principles, we can't claim that God hasn't said anything about them. Shame on the ministers of religion who use this argument to justify condoning what God has condemned. They should be teaching everyone what the Bible actually does say.

The Bible tells us that "
" all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."(Romans 3:23-24). God is interested in every aspect of our lives, large and small - physical, spiritual, mental, sexual, financial, intellectual and emotional.  His word contains His rules which are given not to restrict or limit our freedoms, but to set us free from a life of bondage and ultimate unhappiness. The process with God is always the same - believe in Jesus Christ, receive Him as your personal Saviour, repent of sin and turn away to a new life of learning and living as a follower of Christ.