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December 18, 2015

Advent 2015-4: Love

English is a difficult and messed up language. My heart goes out to anyone who is attempting to learn English as an adult. I don’t think there is one single grammatical rule that doesn’t have an exception to it – but there may be an exception to that statement. On top of all that, English is filled with expressions and figures of speech which make little if any sense when interpreted literally. For example:
He fell flat on his face
I really put my foot in my mouth
She kicked the bucket

And then there are all those phrases, that might make sense if we used them properly – but we don’t. Phrases like “I could care less” or “irregardless”. To say you could care less means that you do care at least a little when what you really mean is you don’t care at all. “Regardless” means without regard or concern. Therefore, “irregardless” (if it were actually a word, which it actually isn’t) would means not without regard and therefore says that you are in fact giving some regard to the situation.

Not to mention you have a words like radical and awesome that are used far too frequently in reference to things that are far closer to regular and average. Or what about the word “love”? Quite possibly the most over-used and misused word in the English language. We apply this four letter word to express our fondness for all sorts of things from our local sports team to our favorite food to our feelings for family to the band/film we enjoy to feelings of infatuation to our enjoyment of a particular activity. I’m just as guilty of it as you are. In fact, the first line of last week’s BLOG post was, “I love pumpkin pie.” I really should have planned ahead a little better!

With the word “love” being applied to such a wide variety of objects and emotions with varying degrees of intensity and passion how do we accurately process and understand what is meant when the Bible speaks of love? What do we make of concepts like:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” (Matthew 22:37-38, Deuteronomy 6:5)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39, Leviticus 19:18)
“God is love.” (1 John 4:8,16)
What kind of love is this? Is it love like I love football or love like I love my wife? Is it the kind of love I have for my kids or the love I have for Red Robin? How do we interpret this word when we come across it in the Bible?

Consider what is arguably the most well know verse of the Bible, both in and outside of churches.
John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Thankfully in this case Jesus actually defines God’s love for us in this text by describing what it does. Jesus says, “God loved humanity so much, here’s what He did…” This statement reminds me of those old jokes we used to tell as kids. You know the ones. They go something like this:
Person 1 – It was so cold today.
Person 2 – How cold was it?
Person 1 – It was so cold when we milked the cows we got ice cream
That’s how I hear this verse. God loved people so much. How much did He love them? He loved them so much he gave His one and only Son to save them.

If you want to know exactly how God feels about you. If you want to understand what lengths He would go to. If you want to grasp how deeply He cares for your well being, then know this:
• God loves you.
• He loves you with a kind of love that most of us can’t even fathom let alone aspire to imitate.
• He loves you in spite of all your frailties and flaws.
• He loves you regardless of all your mistakes and messes.
• He loves you knowing full well all your inadequacies and idiosyncrasies.
• He loves you despite your doubts and dark deeds.
• He loves you through your hard times and heartaches.
• He loves you even though He sees all your baggage, character flaws and selfish behavior.
• He loves you so much that He sacrificed His son to save you.
• He gave up His life to salvage your life.
• God has redefined love.

Go to Previous Advent 2015 Post

The next Advent 2015 post will be uploaded on December 24th.

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