Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Letting love flow
I was very struck recently by the wording of the above verse in the English Standard Version. The Amplified Bible puts the word 'let' in brackets meaning, I guess, that it is implied by the order of the words or structure of the sentence in the Greek. So it reads:
"[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing)."
This puts an important, and, I believe, correct slant on the meaning of the sentence. For example if we look at the word 'let' in other contexts we will see the thrust of what Paul is getting at here:
If I 'let' someone into my house, it means opening the door and inviting and therefore allowing them to come in. I put no effort into pushing them. They come in at my invitation and at the offer of a door fully open.
If I 'let go' of an object in my hand, I allow the force that is pulling it - whether a person or gravity - to take control of it by not holding it back. By letting go.
In each case it refers to letting an outside person or force have its own way. What does this mean in the above context: "Let love be genuine"?
It means allowing the force of love which springs from the fountainhead - God himself - have its way in and through me as I cooperate with its forward momentum. God reaches out in love to all of His creation and has called us, as Christians, to be the means by which He continues to do that to His world. Our calling therefore is to "let go and let God" do precisely that.
The Message translation of Paul's words perhaps gives the best meaning:
"Love from the centre of who you are."
Who you and I are, are people who are filled with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11). We are "in Christ" and Christ is in us. We are 'one' even though we still retain free will and our bodies still harbour habits and members which are affected by wrong desires and selfish intent. But at the centre is who we now are. We are "new creatures" (2 Corinthians 5:17), new beings who have submitted all we are to all that God is in Christ. And so Paul is saying, in effect, "live your life from that new centre. Let love have its way and love others".
God is love and loves everyone without condition, even His enemies. We are to love like that but cannot in our own strength, something Paul himself refers to in that famous passage in Romans 7:7-25. But we can now do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We can love others, even our enemies, with the love of Christ who is in us, and at the centre of who we now are in Jesus.
So let us let go and let God love through yus. Let love be real, sincere, genuine.
The following is a sermon I gave in response to some concerns raised about our application for a Lottery Grant to renovate our church and ch...