In Worship: Of the Spirit (LOVE)
If you’re new to my blog, we’re exploring together a fruit of the spirit each week. We just started last week, so you’re joining at the beginning. Welcome! Jump in, read, and share your thoughts.
LOVE: Week 2
First, I loved reading the comments you all left about “What is love?” If you haven’t gone back to read them, take some time to do it – I love the feedback…it gives this exercise a bigger sense of community (rather than me just blathering on). I tried to reply to some of your comments, thinking that my replies would be e-mailed directly to you – but I don’t think that’s the case…so I replied, but I think they’re just sitting in the comments section. I’m showing off my serious non-blogging skillz right now.
What is love?
The comments had a theme: selflessness, unconditional, not about me, thinking outside myself. True love is not about me.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4)
Love is sacrificial. God loved us in this way, and in the same way we ought to love others.
In his book In the Name of Jesus, Henri Nouwen talks about God’s love from 1 John 4:19:
Let us love because God loved us first.
This love from God is UNCONDITIONAL and UNLIMITED (sorry for yelling, I think this warrants a little fire). Nouwen calls this God’s first love.
The second love is human love and it is broken and full of shadows (heartache, pain, brokenness, loneliness). Even when the second love comes from people who love us and genuinely want the best for us – our spouse, our parents, our children – it is still imperfect and broken and often leaves a wake of shadows.
I love what Nouwen says about God’s first love:
“The radical good news is that the second love is only a broken reflection of the first love and that the first love is offered to us by a God in whom there are no shadows.”
That is radical. And it is certainly good news.
The even better news? To receive this love, all we have to do is sit in God’s presence and accept the love.
This is where the contemplatives have a leg up on the rest of us who are turning in prayer requests and spending our prayer time only petitioning. While it’s great to pray FOR something, sometimes prayer is just sitting. It’s sitting in God’s presence and soaking in it.
Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I find a phrase in scripture and let that match my breath (breathe in: let us love/breathe out: God loved us first), sometimes I just sit and say, “Here am I.”
The point is, sometimes there is no point to prayer beyond soaking in the presence of God – soaking in that first love, the love of God who loved us first.
Okay, I’ll stop writing for now. Let’s keep the dialogue going.
Here are some questions to think about and answer in the comments section.
– Initial thoughts about today’s writing on Love
– Have you ever taken the time to soak in the presence of God without an agenda? Share your experience with us!
– Love means choosing love over and over. What does it look like to choose this kind of first love over and over, every day? What would it look like to soak up the presence of God – of this first love – all day long? Even when we’re doing more than just sitting in his presence…
And I encourage you to check back on the comments from last week – I was encouraged reading everyone’s thoughts and I think you might be, too.
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