Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Love and rejection...

What do you do when someone very near and dear to you is offended, hurt, and angry because you are acting out your beliefs? What do you do when you're unjustly accused and judged? When your actions appear to have been misinterpreted...by someone you love beyond measure?

Once again, I am up against the fact that my love will always be inadequate. It will always fall short in some way or in some instance. The only thing I can do is trust my loved ones to His love. I must continually humble myself and ask that He continue to teach me to disappear, that the only Love that is perfect will shine more and more clearly, as the days and trials continue.

Is love meant to be exclusive? Did Jesus ever encounter a set of enemies...and love (in action and words) both of them? I think He had to have, human nature being what it is...and His nature being what it is.

But were both parties able to feel and acknowledge His love? That is what I don't know. What "enemies" (of anyone) show up during the time of Jesus?

Most of the Pharisees didn't seem to be able to feel His love, even though He loved them enough to ask God to forgive them...even though he met with one face to face and spoke the ultimate words of love to him, that He was about to give His life for that Pharisee. That indicates his willingness to reach out and minister to one of His own "enemies." I wonder if Nicodemus felt Jesus' love, even as he was part of the group plotting His death? Was that what caused him to seek Jesus out?

Are there any stories of pairs of enemies who came to Him? I remember those who brought the woman caught in adultery...He certainly reached out in love to the one who was obviously in the wrong...but maybe this isn't an accurate example either.

Jesus loved/loves everyone, for He was/is the face of the Father, and God is love. We know this.

Did everyone feel the love that was there for them? Did the Pharisees? Did the soldiers who cast lots for His garments? Did Pilate? Did the high priest? Or how about those who weren't his enemies? Did all 5,000 whom he fed feel His love? Or did some of them merely come to see and hear the latest attraction? What about all those shouting Hosanna?

It doesn't seem that they all did. Some, at least, were deceived to the point that they couldn't see that love for what it really was, or else they did feel it but were somehow still able to reject it...and Him. Or else...something, for I doubt many still believed in His love when they were shouting "crucify Him."

And that leads me to an uncomfortable realization. If even the love of Jesus in the flesh could be overlooked, missed, ignored, and rejected...then my love can be, too.

Even if Jesus' love did shine through me perfectly...it would not always be received. For whatever reason, it...and I...can count on rejection. Even rejection of love. Even rejection because of love.

Lord, teach me to count the cost. To follow Your ways no matter the cost. Open the eyes of my heart to know how to love like You, but please also teach me to rest in Your love and sufficiency for me in situations like this. Give me the grace to love those who love me, and love those who hate me, and love those who are hated by those I love, and love those who hate those I love...for I know that is what You do. Enable me to recognize and reject bitterness and anger and offense in my own heart. I am willing to walk this painful path and learn what lessons You have planned for me in this season. And I am willing to hold onto You, no matter what You allow to be taken away from me.

Photo credit: Megyarsh

10 comments:

  • Peggy Arteberry says:
    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    In Esther 4 it says "For such a time as this.." I beleive that there is not a second of of lives that are not planned by the Lord. I really am taking to heart what you have blogged on today. To have such love for everyone is the cry of my heart too! Yes, Lord!

  • Annie says:
    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Lots of questions. Lots of very GOOD questions. I'm still working on all of these, myself.

    I will say ... a personal revelation of mine is that God does NOT love everyone equally. We think he must; we've been taught to believe that. But God actually DID say, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." Malachi 1 goes a bit more into that. God says his love for Israel is demonstrated IN THAT He loved her and hated Esau, and brought complete and lasting destruction on Esau because of it. Love is relationship. It is not impersonal, but personal. And because of this, Love is not impersonally dumped out on all alike. It is PERSONALLY poured out on SPECIFIC someones who have a relationship that He treasures.

    As I said, I have no personal revelation yet on "love your enemies" or a few of the other passages on enemies. I'm still tumbling that around in my soul. But I do know ... God is willing to hate for the sake of someone else. He decrees that every last thing we do to another PERSON he takes personally: as if it were done to Himself. If we love our brother, we are loving him. If we hate our brother, we are hating him. They cannot apparently be independent. Just a thought (not tested, not backed up, just ... a thought): he may be able to love his OWN enemies, but he may not want to love MY enemies. That verse does use a specific pronoun. I don't know ... but it is a thought.

  • Annie says:
    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Oh. Really good verse along the lines I was talking about ..."Friendship with the world is emnity toward God."

  • Katie says:
    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    Annie,

    There are several things I'd like to consider. I have tried to make the following complete, since this is going online in a place where those who do not know me nor have any reference to who I am may read it. So forgive me when I repeat things you already know (as I will). It is said for the sake of being thorough since this is going on the Internet.

    First, what, exactly, is the definition of the word "hate?" Hate is an English word, not a Hebrew one, and there are many instances where there is no word in English that accurately describes a word in another language. And then, the meanings of words change as time goes by. The verb form of "hate" is one of these. The meaning of the word has changed since sane was first translated to hate, yet our Bible translators have (perhaps unfortunately) not adjusted the translations appropriately.

    Witness the difference between what hate meant in the 1828 Webster's Dictionary:
    _________

    1. To dislike greatly; to have a great aversion to. It expresses less than abhor, detest, and abominate, unless pronounced with a peculiar emphasis.

    § How long will fools hate knowledge? Prov.1.

    § Blessed are ye when men shall hate you. Luke 6.

    2. In Scripture, it signifies to love less.

    § If any man come to me, and hate not father and mother, &c. Luke 14.

    § He that spareth the rod, hateth his son. Prov. 13.

    --Source: The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language.
    ____________________

    Now look at out hate is defined now:
    ____________________

    v. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.
    ____________________

    I think, therefore, that we need to consider that when God said he "hated" Esau, He may have meant the 1628 version of the word, rather than the 2010 version of it. That does, of course, agree with what you say about not loving people equally. It also perfectly fits many other verses in the Bible that use this word.

    I would think it quite probably that when God loves someone less, it is still greater love than any human being on earth is capable of showing. For I cannot get around the fact that He is LOVE.


    Second

    There is also another possible interpretation of Malachi 1 which might cause us to consider that verse differently.

    First, consider the fact that God frequently used people's names when He was referring to a collective group of people. The decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for example, are called Israel, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh, Judah, etc. It is no different with other nations around them. Therefore, I think we must consider that this verse may have been talking about nations that were chosen and not chosen, favored and not favored, loved and loved less...rather than individuals. That, indeed, would fit quite well with the context that this verse is found in.

  • Katie says:
    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    Third:

    Suppose God was talking about Esau the person? Suppose any of this isn't true? For me, this still makes no difference because loving someone less is still loving them. I believe this is true even of God. Consider Cain. He was in the same position of Esau. God didn't chose him and favor him. He did not honor God, and was rejected as a consequence of it. And yet God would allow no one else to take vengeance upon him. God still protected him.

    Nowhere am I commanded to not love at all. And there are hundreds of verses that do command me to love, even when the person is my enemy, even when they hurt me, etc. In fact, many go so far as to say that if I do not love others, then I do not know God.

    1 John 2:9 The one who says he is in the Light and yet (A)hates his (B)brother is in the darkness until now.
    10 (AA)The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
    11 But the one who (AB)hates his brother is in the darkness and (AC)walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has (AD)blinded his eyes.

    1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that (AP)He laid down His life for us; and (AQ)we ought to lay down our lives for the (AR)brethren.

    1 John 4:7 (T)Beloved, let us (U)love one another, for love is from God; and (V)everyone who loves is (W)born of God and (X)knows God.
    8 The one who does not love does not know God, for (Y)God is love.
    20 (AZ)If someone says, "I love God," and (BA)hates his brother, he is a (BB)liar; for (BC)the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, (BD)cannot love God whom he has not seen.

    Leviticus 19:18 (A)You shall not take vengeance (which means someone did something against you), (B)nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but (C)you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

    Matt 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before (AC)the court; and whoever says to his brother, '[c]You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before [d](AD)the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the [e](AE)fiery hell.
    ...
    39"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but (BB)whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
    39"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but (BB)whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
    40"If anyone wants to sue you and take your [g]shirt, let him have your [h]coat also.
    41"Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
    42"(BC)Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
    43"(BD)You have heard that it was said, '(BE)YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (BF)and hate your enemy.'
    44"But I say to you, (BG)love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
    45so that you may be (BH)sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
    46"For (BI)if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

    1 Corinthians 13, of course, details exactly what love looks like...as well as proclaiming that every other virtue and gift we may have is worthless if we don't have love...which is, after all, what many of these verses are saying, in my opinion. So when all of these verses command us to love, they are commanding us to act out 1 Cor. 13 in each of these situations.

  • Katie says:
    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    Fourth:

    It is difficult to read these verses without thinking of people who have claimed to love God and do not live according to these high standards. Two thoughts/temptations come to my mind when I read them.

    1) I hear accusations against myself...that since I have hurt people, and done things that are quite obviously against 1 Corinthians 13...since there are times when I have felt so hurt and angry that I do not even want to...since there have been times when I have belatedly realized that my motives were not what I thought they were, or that deception I was under blinded me to the fact that I was no loving someone...does this mean that I do not know God? For as you pointed out, this means I had done those things to God.

    All I can do at that point is throw myself upon His grace and forgiveness, humble myself, and ask Him to create in me a clean heart.

    2) There is a natural tendency to think of others who do not seem to be fulfilling the love part of all these verses...and I'm tempted to conclude that they don't know God and are enemies of Him...and maybe they don't count, then. Maybe they are not my brother or my neighbor. Maybe...all sorts of things and possibilities come to mind.

    But then God reminds me that, if I can rest in His grace and forgiveness, then so can anyone. And if God can choose me, then He can choose anyone. If God is the one who chooses those whose hearts He softens, and God is the one who looks on the heart, then God has power and information that I don't have. He is the only one who knows which humans have truly made themselves His enemy. The disciples, perhaps, would not have been blamed by any person on earth for deciding that Saul was an enemy of God. Yet God had chosen him. And Saul's heart was for God...for what he thought God was. All it took was God tearing the blinders from the eyes of his heart for him to see that he was not serving God like he thought he was.

    I believe that there is no way that I can decide this about anyone else without doing something else I am commanded not to do...judging them. I do not believe it is judging to say that someone's actions that I have witnessed go against the Scriptures. If I watch someone do something, and then hear them lie about it, I may rightly "judge" that they lied. But I may not rightly judge anything about the condition of their heart, for only God knows that. When Joab received the command to place Uriah where the fighting was fiercest, he probably would have argued with God about David being a man after God's own heart!

    God's love for His chosen ones clearly does cause Him to feel anger toward those who hurt His chosen ones...even when it's His chosen ones hurting His other chosen ones! But I am not God. I have no way of knowing whether sin is coming from a heart that is hurting and thoroughly deceived, in which God has a thorough plan for the redemption of that precious soul...or whether that sin is coming from a heart that is not deceived and has willfully turned against God. Even God spoke and told me, though, that still would not change God's command for my actions and my own heart. I am not responsible for anyone's heart but my own.

    I must love everyone, because God says to, and because He has not shown me ever detail of His plan for all mankind. For all I know, He may have chosen to use my love for someone difficult to love, to open the eyes of their heart. He may actually use my obedience in loving my enemy to do for them what the Damascus road experience did for Saul.

  • Katie says:
    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    For me to decide that someone is not worth of every bit of love I can offer, is to set my own wisdom and understanding up against God's. That is pride, and God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble...and I need all the grace I can get!

    I also believe that God knows full well that hatred is a poison that hurts the bearer even more than the one receiving it. If anyone at all can hate someone and not be hurt by it, that person is God. He can't be blinded by pride. He sees all and knows all. He is just and always knows what should be done. He doesn't have to worry about choosing inappropriate consequences for someone's action. He doesn't have to worry about whether the consequences He chose for one person might indirectly hurt someone innocent in the situation. He is God.

    I believe that this is why He said:
    Romans 12:17 (AK)Never pay back evil for evil to anyone (AL)Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
    18If possible, (AM)so far as it depends on you, (AN)be at peace with all men.
    19 (AO)Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "(AP)VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.
    20" (AQ)BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD."
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


    For doing good is what gives God free reign to do as He knows is right in the situation. If someone evil truly deserves evil paid back to them, God knows it and He will do it, because He can do it without reaping negative consequences. I cannot.

    He wants to spare all of us the consequences that will be ours if we allow what others have done to us to cause us to do anything other than love them anyway. His commands for us to love are for our own good, for obedience to this command keeps us out of trouble, and prevents us from sowing seeds that we don't want to reap.


    I hope that I have stated my position clearly, and I pray for all readers of my blog that God will "open the eyes of our heart, that we may know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."

  • Katie says:
    Monday, November 08, 2010

    PS. I also wish to be clear that that I do not necessarily believe that God DOES love some people less. The 1828 definition of the word "hate" certainly isn't the inspired Word of God. Some say that the word sani means "to oppose" which doesn't have anything to do with loving or hating. This makes sense to me as well, but the limited amount of time that I had to look these things up did not provide for me a scholar of Ancient Hebrew's clarification on this.

    Rather, the focus of what I wrote here is simply that, it does not really matter, to me, exactly what that word means. For it is quite clear to me that God is love, and that I, as His servant, am called to give every bit of love I have for every human He brings me into contact with.

  • Annie says:
    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Good heavens, Katie. For someone who rarely comments back, you sure outdid yourself! Saving up, maybe ...
    I don't really think there's any way to adequately address every single thing you said, point by point. But a lot of it addressed several large points, so I will address those.

    Firstly, while I used Scripture in my first comment, this was actually the second half of the story. I did not draw a conclusion off of these Scriptures. These merely backed up a personal encounter I had with God. I debated when writing that comment initially, if I should relate the entirer story, or only the .scripture that backed it up. I went with the latter option. However, since you have argued the Scriptural basis, I will relate the rest of the story.

  • Annie says:
    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Okay, sorry. This thing was screwing up on me and I couldn't type any more.

    The story is: I was driving one day and considering many things ... about loving people, and what love is, and how God feels about people who hate one another, etc. A specific person, etc. And I came to, "Well, I know you love him, because you love everybody the same." He spoke immediately, "Do I?" It startled me, and I started the "um. ah..." looking around thing. So I said, "Well ... I would have said you did ... but obviously not, since you just said that. So I guess I don't know?" And THAT was when he reminded me of that verse: "Jacob I have loved, while Esau I have hated." I had to change my position. "OH. Wow. I guess you don't love everyone the same." I was shocked and stunned to say the least.

    [middle e-mailed]

    I am challenging the classical, "Christian" understanding of what it means to love. As you state in your current post, and as I stated in my comment ... this is apparently the subject we are both learning. Christianity has taught me that "loving" someone is being nice to them. When in fact Love judges the world. Love brought judgment on His chosen people, and justice to the nations that oppressed them. Love was not "nice" in the classical understanding of it. But He was always Love. So ... I want to know the real HIM. I don't want to fall for an inflated substitute. If knowing Him means knowing the gritty along with the glorious, then bring it on. I truly truly truly want to know the real HIM.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion