Okay so it’s time to follow-up with my own “response” to the call of my last post. I asked the question last time about there being a difference between “loving something or someone vs. being IN LOVE with something or someone”. I had a few responses (figured a love chat would evoke much more response – oh well ha ha) and there were some good thoughts and opinions expressed.
Now I would like to take a few moments and express sort of what I was thinking. I have to be honest – I sort of misled people with my direction from last time. I set it up by talking about a wedding that I was performing and that got people to thinking about “love” in the sense of marital or romantic love, which was not incorrect or bad, just not completely the direction I was actually thinking about in my mind.
You see whether we like it or not – I do believe that there is a difference between loving something and being “in love” with something. Also whether that is right or wrong I believe (as they say) “it is what it is” that is the reality. I’ll go deeper with why I am struggling with this whole battle of thought.
You see I am speaking more of my relationship with my Heavenly Father – God my maker, creator, sustainer, provider. I think for so much of my life I have “loved God” but as I get older I often wonder if I am “in love” with Him. That sort of makes me wince to think about, much less read in black & white for all the world to read, but it is an honest statement. Scary, but honest.
You see I LOVE God, who He is, what He is about, His power, might, love, mercy, GRACE – His awesome creativity, His relentless forgiveness, His unending compassion, how HOLY He is, how PERFECT and the list goes on and on. But you see I can LOVE those attributes (not a warm fuzzy feeling love, but an action oriented – get off my butt and do something sort of love) and Him. The problem comes in the fact that so often I wonder how much I am truly IN LOVE (yes the warm fuzzy, overcome with emotion that you have no idea where it came from type of LOVE) with Him for the most part of my life.
A lot of this stems from the fact that I DO MINISTRY – and I have DONE MINISTRY so much of my life, been around the church (which I also LOVE but sometimes wonder if I am “IN LOVE” with), great people of faith, and again the list goes on and on. So often I have been in a “working environment” of religion and faith that it blurs the lines of a life-altering, warm/fuzzy feeling, emotional, being “IN LOVE” with my maker, creator, sustainer, provider, healer, Father, Savior, redeemer, disciplinarian, protector – and causes me to wonder, wonder how I can more learn to live in the moment of being “IN LOVE” with God & His wonderful Son Jesus.
So there are plenty of people that will say, be in the Word, be in Prayer, be in Community, etc. I totally believe and understand and strive for those things. I also know that part of my is not necessarily “wired” to always love in the same way that many others do. I know that I do a better job of being “IN LOVE” with Him when I am in the word (not simply reading and studying but letting it wash over me) and when I am in prayer. I also know that I have not done as good a job of being in Christ-centered community as I could be (and soon hope to rectify that as our body here @ C3 are about to jump back into our community groups, which I need). The fact still remains that often I just sit back and wonder do I simply “LOVE” God for the sake of saying I do and because I am to be obedient and it is the “right thing” and if so am I hindering my ability to be “IN LOVE” with Him.
I guess all of this is said not as a admittance that this is all a sham and that I don’t see myself ever having been “IN LOVE” with God, not in the least. I guess it is more of a desire to live more consistently in that state. To back up my thought process I am more reminded of the passage of Jesus and Peter after Jesus’ resurrection – found in John 21:15-19.
I have always found this passage interesting on MANY LEVELS. You know how we all hate confrontation in our society. The whole “elephant in the room” that no one wants to discuss. So here they are together again after Peter has denied EVEN KNOWING CHRIST on the night Jesus was condemned to die. What a dagger that must have been to Him. Now they are together and Jesus sort of addresses the issue – He simply asks Peter “Do you love me?” – AAAAHHH SMACK right up side the head – but notice he does this not once but THREE times – oh yeah sound familiar – um like the number of times Peter denied even knowing Christ. The funny thing is Peter sort of gets hurt that Jesus kept asking him – UH HELLO anyone remember the three times you DENIED HIM – How much did that hurt?
Okay then on a deeper level the words that Jesus used here. Jesus kept asking Peter if he Loved Jesus with the word Agape (an all encompassing love, deep love, action oriented love, a die-for type of love) and Peter would respond “yes Lord I love you” but the word he used was the word Phileo (sound familiar? Philadelphia, city of “brotherly love” – this is a “less” affectionate, deep type of love, more of a brotherly love). Then Jesus again said – Peter do you Agape me? Peter said YES LORD I Phileo you. Finally on the third try Jesus said – okay Peter do you Phileo me and Peter said yes Lord I Phileo you. Sort of a weird exchange.
Now I am no Greek/Hebrew scholar and I am not going to get all deep into this and why it took place that way, but here is what it means a lil bit to me. Are we to be mad at Peter and say “boy what is wrong with you” this is JESUS the guy that loved you and was IN LOVE with you enough to leave His heavenly home, come to this earth, to walk with you, work with you, laugh with you, lead you, teach you, talk to you – THIS MAN definitely does AGAPE YOU – and the best you can give is PHILEO???? But then I stop and think – that is exactly my struggle sometimes – God is asking Neal to Agape Him – to be ALL IN – “heart, soul, mind, and strength” to AGAPE my Heavenly Father and so often I go, but LORD I PHILEO YOU!!! And then I have the nerve and audacity to get my feelings hurt cause He keeps asking me???
Good grief what a predicament I am in. But I appreciate Peter’s honesty and his humanity – if he could not totally agree to AGAPE then by all means at least PHILEO, don’t give simple “lip service” to the Savior – He does not want that, need that, desire that – He wants our honest, humble, pitiful selves to admit when we can’t AGAPE Him but only PHILEO Him.
So maybe I do struggle, maybe I do well in Loving God, but I often times stink at being IN LOVE with God, but I bet I am not alone. I also bet if truth be told that there are many that do well at being IN LOVE (the warm fuzzy feelings) with God but they struggle mightily with LOVING GOD – being obedient to Him, acting on the truths of God’s words. So what if we all stopped puttin’ up a front – what if we all got together and those who were good at AGAPE and those who were good at PHILEO and we sat down and helped one another.
Okay so sorry if you thought I was gonna go all “romantic” about relationships with one another but my main concern is how I am doing all this with God, cause if I get that right then my relationships with all of you will go so much better. I will LOVE YOU and be IN LOVE with you on a level that I have never seen and experienced before. Also like I said – I am no scholar so don’t get all bent out of shape if you disagree with me – it’s okay for you to be wrong ha ha ha – just kidding – maybe there is something you disagree with and could teach me to see differently so definitely drop me a line – but I just wanted to share where my mind was in hopes that my mind and my heart continue to collide on the path that leads to LOVING GOD & BEING IN LOVE WITH GOD – more and more each new day!