Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Gifts of the Spirit and Love Part 1

For the purposes of this blog I will be quoting from the NIV unless otherwise noted. I will not post the whole thing but here is a link to the related reading, 1 Corinthians 12 13 & 14 : 1-25. A warm thank you to the International Bible Society.

I am talking about love today because someone I have on occasion debated with in the past ended our potential for discourse and tried my absolute belief in love. It was the nature of the insult, in the course of a debate about homosexual rights, that gave me pause to think. The gentleman in question, Fred, made a claim of his superiority over me. For the nature of the debate and it's social/political implications I will be posting to my other blog - I will link to the post from here when it is up.

I am also going to discuss the gifts of the Spirit because I have recently been involved in more than one discussion of them. And as the gifts relate closely to Paul's discussion of Love to the church in Corinth, it seemed fortuitous to discuss this all now.

Love and Superiority

I think the best place to start has it's heart in what sent me to Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth today. It is also illustrative of how we allow Satan to find footholds in our souls. You see as soon as I saw the posted comment in which Fred declared his superiority over me my first reaction was to think, "oh, you are so wrong - because I am a much better person than you." Now when faced with an insult like Fred's one might consider that while juvenile, my first reaction was understandable - perhaps even justified - but should we call it sin? Paul gives us a great standard to work with in 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and part of 8:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

I shudder to think of the above list and which items were on my heart when I had my flash of anger this morning. My heart was boasting and rude, I was angry and self righteous - he was wrong and I was right and that makes me better! But it doesn't - it makes us equally human and equally wrong. I do not know if he is a believer, but I am and I know that I was wrong. I was not reacting with love but with anger. We are commanded to love our neighbor as our self - in his first letter to the church in Corinth Paul describes both the importance of love and the characteristics of love. Often people equate 1 Cor. 13 with weddings and marriage but when taken in context it encompasses far more - it is a life model.

Love - part of life or way of life pt.1

I think most people are aware of the four loves. If not, go here. I liken those loves to the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - but one God. Friendly love, family love, erotic love and Godly love, together are Love. Love is not an option - in fact we need to live love, the love of Jesus, which encompasses all of these. The idea is not to have occasional loving moments, this is to be a way of life. In Romans 13:8-9

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Paul sums it up quite clearly - our only debt is a debt to love our fellow man - this is the law. Before he even wrote to the Corinthian church about love and prophecy he is emphasizing the importance, the tremendous importance of Love. Then he tells us we can summon up all other commandments - "love your neighbor as yourself." We are a very social society, we run into our neighbors pretty constantly. Whether in a store, sharing the road - we interact with our fellow man. And Paul tells us clearly to love them all. Later, in Galatians 5:5-7, Paul again reiterates that the new law of Love trumps the old law:

5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Before we explore what Paul has to tell us in 1 Corinthians about the importance of love as a way of life lets first skip ahead to chapter 14 and hear about the gifts of the Spirit.

The Gifts of the Spirit

Will be continued in part 2

Friday, December 16, 2005

One of my current Prayers. . .

I was recently in a mail exchange with a "minister" who uses the tactic of telling people they are going to hell to "bring them to Christ." This is not God's way. The God I worship tells me that I am unqualified to judge any person's heart - that's for him to do. I am happy to use any inroad given to tell people about my relationship with Christ. I try my best to live a life that will provide me with many opportunities to do just that. I live love. When people make me angry I pray for myself and them - instead of cursing them, something I used to do a lot. I am imperfect - occasional I fail - but I try to live in prayer, leaving myself open to that which the Holy Spirit would have me do.

I do not react in anger when people attack my faith. Occasionally I even find it funny, for it's not my faith they are attacking. It is the outward attitudes of persons they disagree with they ridicule. Occasionally they attack what I believe - instead of getting angry - you got it - I pray, for them and me. God requires me to try to bring those who live outside his grace inside. God admonishes me to take care for it is as criminal an act as is possible to drive people from his grace. Hate based recriminations, threatening hell is just the sort of thing he warns me against. Alienating people from his love and grace imperils not only the souls I might drive away but my own.

Christ taught love and grace. He was all inclusive - whores, drunks, criminals and the poor were welcome to his truth. His anger was directed to the moneychangers and the Pharisees who lusted for temporal power. Temporal law was just that, temporal. Temporal wealth, the same. God's law is for his people to follow, to bring others in, not through force but through example. True wealth is the grace of God not the wealth of the world - it isn't to say that temporal wealth is something to be scorned - but the breaking of God's law to accumulate it is.

My prayer is that those who scorn my faith would understand that my faith is not anathema, my faith is not hate - but peace, love and healing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My beliefs as a Christian

As a Christian I believe it is not my right to judge others - that is God's job. I have a responsibility to live my life in accordance to God's word and reflect Christ in me. I must do my best to be the sort of man that makes people want to emulate me. I am not perfect - Lord knows I'm not but I try and usually do reflect the joy and love given me by the Holy Spirit. I know some people who claim the bible renounces homosexuality and those who say it doesn't - that is between a person and God. When a person prays and meditates upon God's word and allows the Holy Spirit to so fill them that the things of man are washed out of them the Spirit will put upon their hearts what is right.

I do know that the bible tells us that there is no greater sin than to drive a person away from the truth of God. The bible also tells us that greater than hope, greater than faith even is Love. This is what I choose. The best way to drive a person from God is to judge them and foster hatred of them. This is unforgivable as it imperils those who have been pushed away from ever knowing God's love.

Love does not judge. Love does not choose this person over that. Love is unconditional. I am learning to think first of love when people upset me, to pray for them rather than curse them. The more I do this - the More I truly live love in every way the more the pains and worries of the world slip away - the stronger I feel.

When it comes to secular law I believe that it is just that - secular. When any church interposes it's will on secular law it demeans both the Church Family and society as a whole. God gives us free will to be what we will. When churches force their way into the secular that free will is taken from all and makes us slaves incapable of reaching for ourselves the joy of Christ. I do not believe our nations founders left one theocracy to found another. They went so they might worship in their own way. Worship is between a person and God so too is sin - it is not to be interfered with by our government. . .

cross posted to Traumatized by Truth

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Live love. I saw it on a ankle bracelet the other day at the airport. I see it on occasion on bumper stickers, billboards and other venues.This has been my mantra since I was, I don't know, five or six maybe. It is rather late as I begin this new adventure in blogging. I will be writing about what living love really means to me very soon. Until then,

Live Love
DuWayne E. Brayton