Monday, July 27, 2020
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Until Tina Turner’s version of CCR’s “Proud Mary,” I wasn’t into cover groups.
Since then, as Debbie Steinborn will tell you, there are some cover groups that do an even better job than the original; like Audra Mae and the Forest Rangers outdoing the Association on “Never My Love.”
Though I’m not ready to concede Tina’s version of CCR’s “Proud Mary” is more, uh, appealing, let’s just say I know lots of folks that really like that song that don’t know or care who wrote and sang it before her.
She did write “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”
I never liked that one.
To each his own.
You say tomato, I say…
Paul wrote about divinely designed diversity in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12; so being that God’s into diversity, who am I to complain or contend?
While I have a hard time complying with Godless people in government who are too quick to abrogate our Constitution’s Bill of Rights for thinly veiled nefarious motivations with CCP COVID-19 as their convenient rationalization, I’m into diversity because God’s into diversity and increasing intimacy with God means we’re increasingly into things that matter to God.
Speaking of things that matter, all lives matter to God.
God made the rainbow for many purposes.
First, it reminds us that God won’t destroy the world by a flood again. You can look that one up in Genesis 6-9.
Second, God likes a lot more colors than just black and white.
That’s how I know no colors will matter until we’ve got room for all of ‘em on our palette.
Until all lives matter, no lives will matter.
Speaking of that, the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t have that much credibility with me.
God says all lives matter and that includes black lives which is why black lives matter to me.
I’m just having a bigger and bigger problem with a movement that says black lives matter when they don’t seem to care enough to speak up and act up about unborn black babies being murdered so disproportionately to other babies and they don’t seem to care enough to speak up and act up about black on black crime, violence, mayhem and murder in cities like Chicago.
Again, no lives will matter until all lives matter.
That may not fit the narrative of the Godless communists fooling and fueling people and pitting them against each other; but God’s people know all lives matter to God and all lives can get along together if they go through Him to each other with His grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Getting back to Tina Turner, I never liked “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”
The story line is kinda pathetically pagan.
It’s so carnal.
It’s about relationships without love: “What’s love got to do, do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion?”
What the anything but heaven is she talking about?
Maybe it’s about being abused by Ike or Ike cheating on her or her cheating on Ike or…?
I don’t know.
I just don’t get it and I don’t wanna get it because there is a very concise, clear, compelling and commanding answer to her question from God.
What’s love got to do with it?
John puts it bluntly: “God is love.”
He wrote that in the middle of 1 John 4:7-21: “Let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him…If God loved us in this way, we also must love one another…God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister...cannot love God…The one who loves God must also loves his brother and sister.”
John got that from Jesus in the great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself…You prove you love God when you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40).
Of course, here’s the test of love from Jesus: “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
If we love God, we will love like God as God has defined love in Jesus and Holy Scripture as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus and Holy Scripture.
So it’s a dumb question.
What’s love got to do with it?
Paul fleshed that out – explained how love plays out in our relationships – in 1 Corinthians 13.
He begins, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
If our love for God is not fleshed out in loving like God as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, Paul says we’re full of stuff that’s anything but Godly.
We’ve all heard it: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Playing a good game is more important to the final score than talking a good game.
Talking the talk without walking the talk is for blowbags.
James put it bluntly: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only…What good is it if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?...[What good is it if someone talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk?]…What good is it to say to the hungry and homeless, ‘Go in peace, stay warm and be well fed’? That’s why faith without works is dead” (see James 1-2).
If we really care for the hungry and homeless, we’ll do something about it.
“Oh, I have a heart for the hungry and homeless?”
O.K., prove it to me. Let me see your checkbook and calendar.
“Oh, I love God. I’m a believer.”
O.K., prove it to me. Tell me about your worship and Bible reading and…
Paul wrote the 13th chapter after the 12th chapter.
The 12th chapter is about spiritual gifts and how churches should operate according to gifting and the offices and functions in a church and concludes, “Now let me show you a better way.”
In other words, loving God by loving others to prove love for God is the glue that holds everything together.
Practicing faith proves the proclamation of our faith.
I think it was Francis who said he sometimes used words when he preached.
Or as I remember an old firebrand screaming over the radio as I drove home from a church late one night while in seminary, “The only gospel that some people will ever see or hear is the gospel according to you and me.”
What’s love got to do with it?
Now let’s go deeper.
Greek has four words for love; yet the one used by Paul in this text and the one used by Jesus whenever he is talking about our relationships with everyone in His name and the one, therefore, that distinguishes followers from Jesus from everybody else in the world is agape.
Agape means to pray and work for the highest good for everybody regardless of who, what, where, when or why without the need or expectation for response, regard or reward.
Agape is selfless.
It cares more about others than self.
Agape is not an affection. It has nothing to do with liking or romancing.
Agape is an attitude that is commanded by God.
God doesn’t expect us to like everybody because not everybody is likeable; yet God expects us to love the unlovable because we can pray and work for their best without liking them.
It’s all about loving others like God loves everybody as best exemplified in Jesus with grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Again, go back to the general definition.
1 Corinthians 13 mentions some of the ways this agape is fleshed out: “Love is patient and kind…not jealous or boastful…not arrogant or rude…Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Well, that was easy.
If it were as easy as reciting it, our world wouldn’t be in such a mess with so much meanness, madness, misery and miscreance.
It’s not easy to agape.
Because it’s not natural!
Taking a course on love or watching a video about it or reading a book on it or listening to some preacher or professor go on and on and on about what it means doesn’t make it happen.
Lots of people can talk about it.
It’s harder to do it.
Again, it’s not natural.
It’s natural to gossip and get over more than get along.
It’s natural to hit, hurt, beat, batter, bruise and butcher.
And before relatives of Tiny Tim say it’s not all that difficult, please don’t embarrass yourself as ignorant to what’s going on in our world, America, your family and neighborhood, churches that should know better and anywhere else where two or three aren’t always gathered together in His name.
The only way for agape to incarnate or flesh out and play out is by the supernatural enabling that is a byproduct of intimacy with Jesus.
David said God “inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3).
Paul wrote intimacy with God releases a supernatural power that provokes this praise: “It is no longer I who live but it is Jesus living in and through me” (Galatians 2:20).
Let’s go deeper.
It’s sooooooo human not to love.
Paul wrote, “The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar” (Galatians 5:19-21).
That’s what comes naturally to us.
We don’t need God’s help to be sooooooo human.
It comes naturally to us.
That’s why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born anothen – again and from above.
We need God’s help to overcome what comes naturally to us.
We need God’s supernatural ability in us to be for Him and for others that will prove we are for Him.
When we increase our intimacy with God by increased worship and Bible reading and going to the table and fasting and other acts of spiritual discipline, God’s Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus - from Jesus and for Jesus - empowers us and produces fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, humility and self control” (Galatians 5:22-25).
We need God’s supernatural help to incarnate or enflesh and play out supernatural qualities of fidelity that don’t come naturally to us.
Maturing faith humbles itself before God and recognizes the need for God to empower us with those Christlike qualities that don’t come naturally to us but only through disciplined intimacy with God: “As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect. But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part. Then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
What’s love got to do with it?
Many years ago in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a man made an appointment to see me because he wanted to complain about something.
That’s not uncommon.
It’s so human…so natural.
Here’s what he said: “All I ever hear from you is love, love, love.”
I said, “That’s because God is love and we’re called to love, love, love.”
He said, “I really don’t want to hear about love, love, love all of the time.”
I said, “That means this church isn’t for you.”
Many years ago, my best friend in seminary told me that his dad complained to him, “All you and Kopp ever talk about is Jesus.”
My faithful friend replied, “Well, uh, what are we supposed to talk about in church?”
There was a pastor who instructed children during a moment for them, “When I say a word, I want you to repeat the first word that comes to your mind.”
He said, “Frog.”
A little boy yelled, “Jesus.”
Again, he said, “Frog.”
Again, the little boy yelled, “Jesus.”
This went on for a few more rounds until the pastor asked, “Why do you keep saying Jesus when I say frog?”
“Because,” answered the little boy, “I know you didn’t call us all the way down here to talk about frogs.”
What’s love got to do with it?
What’s Jesus got to do with it?
There are churches that talk more about frogs than Jesus and loving Jesus by loving like Jesus.
You may feel comfortable in them.
It’s only human…so natural.
It reminds me of the old country preacher in South Carolina who revealed one of the best kept secrets of church growth: “Sometimes revival don’t mean bringin’ people in but gettin’ the people out that don’t love Jesus and all His children.”
CCP COVID-19, the violent demonstrations and protests fueled by Godless communists and so many other tribulations of these times have separated the posers from the authentics, sheepdogs from wolves, faithful from goats, wheat from tares and saved from…
Those who have made the extra effort for online and in person worship and study and sacrament and other spiritual disciplines are increasing their intimacy with God as the slow train that’s picking up speed comes down the track.
Get ready for something supernatural.
Love has everything to do with it.
Blessings and Love!