Monday, 26 September 2011
He Loves Me Like That?
So many great comments on this week’s passage! Thank you for what you’ve shared so far. You would think studying the same 11 verses all week would get boring, but instead it gets deeper and richer.
Like Natalie (and Candy last week) I was captivated by Paul’s affection for these believers. He doesn’t just love them dutifully, because that is what we are supposed to do as Christians, he loves them extravagantly, piling on words like I hold you in my heart and I yearn for you all. He loves all of them, using the word all 7 times. His love is is not just feelings either, it is manifested in action. He remembers them–always a sign of love. Remembering them floods him with gratitude. Gratitude reminds him to pray for them. And prayer for them overflows into joy. Where does Paul get this kind of love, especially in prison?
The affection of Christ Jesus was my clue. I know that Jesus loves me, but does he love me with the warmth and eagerness that Paul expresses here? Curiosity drove me to do a word study. Affection is not agape, it is splangchna meaning “gut wrenching love.” This is no sterile, official love. This is love that affects your stomach! In fact this was the word Paul used in Philemon to describe how he felt about sending Onesimus back to his master, “I am sending you my very heart…” But best of all, every use of this word as a verb is found in the gospels–to describe something Jesus said or did.
When Jesus saw the funeral procession of the poor widow who had just lost her only son, he was moved with compassion. His “gut love” caused him to stop, look her in the eye, dry her tears, touch the casket, and raise her son from death! Affection also drove him to feed, teach, heal, and drive out demons. He presented the beauty of this love in 3 parables, the parable of the unforgiving servant, the good Samaritan, and the tale of the prodigal. This love is an expression of the heart of God…for us. He loves you, and me, like that.
But even better, he is transforming us to be like him–completing the good work he has begun in us–by helping us to love others like that. So the next time your heart squeezes in anguish over the pain of your children, the weariness of your husband, or the homeless woman at the traffic light, thank God for his “gut love” and ask him to show you what to do next. He will, because he is eager for your compassion– and your charity– to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” Glorious.