Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

HeartCross“My son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

“Wherefore O my Lord?”

“Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity I do not displease.”

“The prudent lover considerest not the gift of the lover so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.”

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

I briefly touched on love and the Hupomone life (sounds like a bad comedy form the 70’s…but it’s not) in an earlier piece. When I read this paragraph from The Imitation of Christ, I thought it time to open the topic again. Thomas a Kempis in his dialogue with his Lord and Savior examines the quality of Hupomone love. Though written in the 15th century it stands as a challenging definition of love.

“Wherefore O my Lord?” protests our protagonist. It is perhaps our arrogance in self-reflection that most aptly defines our lack of prudent love. We are like the unprepared virgins, not realizing our lack of oil until it is too late….or until the Lord Himself calls us out and we stop our frantic efforts to listen carefully to His words. Kempis utilizes this conversation milieu throughout this work. It is more than a literary it device. Kempis highlights the need for us to be in constant communication with God. It is only when we accept conversation with Him as a lifestyle that we move forward in our imitation of Christ. This is more than Sunday mornings and perhaps Wednesday nights. It is even more than daily devotions and scheduled times of prayer. These are not bad but perhaps consider them disciplines of faith as opposed to conversations of love. We often do them out of a sense of duty not a heart of love. A discipline can become mechanical and void of meaning. A loving relationship and the conversations that must accompany it are filled with meaning and actually feed life into the disciplines. We are called to be in relationship with God 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. When do that we are well on our way to imitating Christ.

Hupomone Love listens to the Words of our Lord and recognizes the truth of His assessment. It is an everyday, every hour, every minute relationship.

“for a little opposition” The Lord uncovers our instability in love. The word circumstance comes up again and again in our Hupomone discussion. Whether it is our love for God or our love for those around us when a little opposition raises it head, how quickly we fall away. Interestingly enough Kempis says “little opposition”. When the sky is falling and disaster raises its ugly head we tend to cling to our Lord and Savior and band together to battle the incoming doom. It is the “little oppositions” that send us running, too often to places we should not be. We drop the armor of God for the tranquilizing pillows of consolation. When we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to look at the circumstances of our lives as guides then we forfeit the effectiveness of His promise to be with us always (notice I said effectiveness, the promise stands and the truth of it is eternal). It is when we have fled in the face of these little things that we are to crash and burn when the world throws its weight against us.

Hupomone Love does not fall down or drop its armor at the first sign of trouble.

Having expressed His assessment of the writers love, God moves on to the qualities of prudent love. Join me next week as I continue to consider this conversation with God and The Proving of a True Lover.

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1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

How many times have I read this passage?  I would not even dare to guess.  Probably many more times than is apparent by the state of my love life.  BTW how is your love life?  Perhaps not an uncommon question among the sitcoms, romantic comedies and even dramas of the world.  As a Christian I should ask this question more often than I have.  However the key to the answer is not in the question.  It is rather in Paul’s words recorded (by the inspiration of God) in 1 Corinthians 13.  It is in the magnificent story of a God who fashions an incredible plan throughout history to teach his creation the truth about love, a truth that was lost so many centuries ago in a place called Eden.

So how is your love life?  The Prodigal son knew that his love life was great.  His family was rich, his friends abundant and I would imagine he was quite the ladies man.  On the world economy he was a love billionaire and he knew it.  So when his buddies asked, “How’s your love life?”  our boy could get a grin and say, “I am getting it all!  In fact I am going to go to my father and get even more!  My love life is going to be totally out of control then!”

“The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” Luke 15:11

I bet he walked away thinking how much he loved his old man.  He was caught up in love, the love of the world.  It is about what we can get.  It is about how people, actions and things make US feel.  It is an economy of love that is pervasive in the world and invasive in the Body of Christ.  It is an economy of love that can only be escaped by death and resurrection to new life and even then it is an economy of love that will sap the strength of the faithful, destroy families, destroy churches, destroy ministries and spread deception everywhere that it takes hold.  It is the great battle of Getting vs. Giving.  It is the economy of Love that left the prodigal penniless, friendless and without hope.  However we serve a God of hope, of redemption, of resurrection and of reconciliation so that no matter how deeply we have sunk into the World’s love He will welcome us home and kill the fatted calf for a feast beyond all expectation and imagination when we return to him.  No matter how broken we are Jesus is ready and willing to accept us into his Love, a love of giving even to the ultimate sacrifice.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”   Phil. 2:4b-11

How’s your love life?  Give Giving a try.  The Bible gives us the rest of the story and I’ll give you a hint:  In G vs G, Giving wins.

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