Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Greatest of These....

"Three things will last forever--faith, hope and love--and the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13

I am doing a bible study with a group of ladies in the town where we live. Last Wednesday was our first day. We break up into small groups and go over the questions and our answers. Our small groups range in age, which I really enjoy, I like to listen to ones older then me, who have already waded through the younger married years, have raised their children, and gone through a lot of the things I am now experiencing. I like to try and glean as much wisdom as I can from these women.
We are doing the study, "Becoming a Woman Who Loves", by Cynthia Heald. I have never done a bible study by her before, so this new for me. We are doing one chapter a week, and the work is not overwhelming, but very manageable, especially with how busy I feel with four little ones underfoot right now, and homeschooling!
I wanted to share a little of what we talked about last week. One of my favorite things from the week, was the definition of agape love. In the Greek language agape love is defined as,
   "a love that is based on the deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved."
I just love that. I have known what agape love means, but for some reason, that definition jumped out at me. I don't know if it's because right now, at this stage of my life, I am being stretched and tried in this area more then ever. Being a parent, you are constantly being confronted with loving your children with an agape love. At least it feels like I am.  I am to be training my children to walk with God, to know God, to love God, and to love others. Teaching them to be unselfish in a selfish, absorbed world. That alone can feel pretty much impossible. I am constantly having to redirect, reteach, and discipline. And I must always show them love, not because they have earned it, have proven worthy of it, but because I have made a deliberate choice to love them regardless of their behavior. And when I think of all the times I have messed up, spoken in anger and frustration, withheld affection or love because I was still upset, how humbling and thankful I am that God does not do that to me. This is one area in which I need to work on.
The second quote she had in this first chapter is from C. S. Lewis, and I love it,
     "God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them....If I may dare the biological image, God is a "host" who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and "take advantage of" Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves."
I am a parasite. You are a parasite. We all are parasites. Not a very attractive or appealing description, is it? But it's true. And God wants us to exploit Him. A term usually viewed in the negative. But how can you negatively exploit agape love? A perfect love? You can't.
And lastly, while completing my questions, I was using my sister's Living Bible. It's neat to read a different translation from time to time. It gives verses that may be very familiar to you, a different taste. I was reading Colossians 3:14, and to summarize it basically said that if you let love guide your life, the whole church will stay together in harmony.
Isn't that awesome? If we would let agape love, sacrificial love, guide our lives, our churches would be in harmony.  The whole church. Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be like a little slice of heaven on earth?
So that is my challenge right now, to make the deliberate choice to love regardless of the response, of those around me. Challenging thoughts for today, but think of all the lives that could be affected if we would each decide to love that radically in our small piece of earth......

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