Bread – Love

April 16, 2013


Readings for Tuesday, April 16, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 4:28-37; 1 John 4:7-21; Luke 4:31-37; Psalms 26,28,36,39

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There is something in many people’s minds about Christianity which is something like a “do loop.” What is a “do loop?” A “do loop” is a computer term meaning that the program goes around and around in a circle, with no beginning and no ending. Sort of like a dog chasing its tail in a circle. The only way to break a “do loop” is to intercept it somewhere in its circular path so that it has to stop and do something different.

What has this to do with today’s topic of “love?”

It is because many Christians believe that we accept Jesus as Lord, who then sends His Holy Spirit to empower us to love, we then can love our fellow neighbor, which then sets us right with God on judgment day, which then … The “do loop” is we believe, we receive, we love. The operative word in this loop is “we.” And as long as “we” is the centerpiece, we will continue to circle around the word “we.” We love others only to the extent that our self-image is improved. We only worship to the extent that we feel loved ourselves. This picture, held by many people whether they admit it or not, is summarized in the phrase “to love others we must first love ourselves.”

How is this “do loop,” which rotates our lives around ourselves, be broken? Our readings today answer that question.

In Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is filled with pride as he looks upon the kingdom that “he” has made. God reaches down and says: “The kingdom has departed from you … until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men…” Dan. 4:31b,32b When Nebuchadnezzar finally realizes that nothing is from him and everything is from God, his “reason returned to me [him].” Key to Nebuchadnezzar’s new understanding is “…and none…can say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” Dan. 35b In other words, God is sovereign over us, what we have comes from Him and Him alone, and it is not until we realize that that we become able to accept and enjoy the riches of the kingdom of God. So, one way the “do loop” of self is intercepted is for God to so act in our lives that we realize that He is God and we are not, that we fall short and He does not, that what we have is from Him, and that we need His mercy and grace to rise above ourselves, to escape the “do loop” of our selves.

In 1 John, the apostle John says simply “We love because He [God] first loved us.” 1 Jn. 4:19 We do not love because we want to love, because we can love, or because we are love. We love because God first loved us and thereby empowers us to love. This is another way that the “do loop” of self is broken, for us to realize that any real love which we have is because – based upon, predicated upon, realized through, made manifest by – He first loved us. Any power we have to love anyone except ourselves is predicated upon this mercy, this outreach by God to infuse in us His power to love.

In Luke, Christ commands a demon to leave a man. This is another way that the “do loop” of self is broken – for us to realize that our incapacity is so immense that it takes God’s power to remove the obstacles, replace sin with forgiveness, transpose despair into hope, make wrong things right. The “do loop” of self is broken when we realize we need Jesus to restore us to good health.

To love our fellow man means setting aside ourselves as the most important person in the equation. We cannot do that in our own power, although we often try. To do that, we must set aside the “we.” We cannot do that until we realize that we are totally dependent upon God and that, but for His grace and mercy and power, we would be going nowhere but to the pit. Once we realize that we were dead in our sin until brought alive by the sovereign action of Jesus Christ and that we have no power but for that power given to us by God, then we are ready to be filled with God’s love for us, empowered to love our neighbors without fear.

“We love because He first loved us.” Not because we can and not because we will, but because He has and He does.

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© 2013 GBF

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