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January 06, 2014

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I think that the first step to make in order to be able to love your enemy, or someone who commits evil in general, is to recognize him for what he is. He is a slave to sin, a victim of his own selfish desires and pride.
When we see our enemy first of all as a victim we realize that we're not all that different from them, and that such people need help. Who wouldn't help a drowning person? We must cast aside our personal feelings towards our enemy and recognize the nature of the problem. If we see the enemy in that way, it's easier for us to pity him/her and that enables us to seek for his/her well being. You can't help anyone returning them evil for evil, because if you do, you'll start drowning in your own pool, and how can a drowning man pull another drowning man on a boat to safety?

If you consider how God used Christ’s enemies to bring about good, the Pharisees to bring out certain truths, those who beat and crucified Him to provide our redemption, etc., it’s easier to see how He uses our enemies to shape and mold us for the better. We need to look through them and see the hand of God, using these unfortunate souls to tweak us into more of a Christ likeness. Just as an artist uses flame, acid or some other abrasive to form a work of art, God wields our enemies ever so skillfully in our behalf. Come to think of it, enemies, though unpleasant and trying, are your friend.

Thanks for specifying the kind of love that the Bible demands of us. Many people, I think, import the emotional kind of love that has been in vogue since the Romantic Era and end up misunderstanding the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles in the Bible regarding love.

But it also means that many people misunderstand the actions of biblical love with regard to reconciliation. In other words, it is a loving thing to call people to repentance for without repentance there can be no true reconciliation. Often, however, those who call for repentance are vilified as being unloving.

I'd like to post a link for those who may be wondering what is Love as defined by the Bible.

http://www.godandscience.org/love/what_is_love.html

Do you deliver them over to Satan like Paul did?

Alberto, the article in that link is a good start. 1 Cor 13 is a good descriptive passage regarding agape as the Apostles typically used it. However, there are more definitive statements which I'll cover in a nutshell.

Agape wasn't used to mean what the Apostles were using it to mean until the Apostles chose it. The reason is that there was a concept of love typical of the earlier OT writers expressed by the term "chesed" in the Hebrew. But there was no Greek term that meant "chesed" until the Apostles appropriated "agape" for it. So the Septuagint didn't use "agape" to translate "chesed". While the Septuagint is technically Koine Greek, it varies from the Koine Greek used in the NT although the NT writers quoted faithfully from it. It's like quoting the King James Bible in the middle of a modern English discourse. It's technically the same English, but there is still a difference. So NT quotes of the Septuagint are of a slightly different Greek.

We know how the NT writers understood the meaning of "chesed" because the Rabbinic writings defined it. It basically means being willing to sacrifice, even one's life, for the good of someone else. John 3:16 comes close to being a definitive statement of "agape", but John 15:13 is even clearer. Paul demonstrates that he agrees with this in what he tells husbands in Eph 5:25ff.

The first part of 1 Cor 13 is helpful because it gives us examples how to live this out daily. The second part of the chapter is remarkable because we learn that faith and hope will not be needed once we are in the eternal presence of the Lord. However, love will continue to be part of the eternal relationship. John agrees with this as he records Jesus' discourse in John 14. Jesus indicated that agape was the eternal relationship among the members of the Trinity and that we would be included in that same love relationship with each member of the Trinity. That's an amazing place for we who are mere creations to take for eternity. We are like the rusty spikes and piercing swords who are covered sacrificially in the blood of Christ.

So this definition of chesed/agape is rooted in the nature of God and undergirds the gospel by which we are able to have this relationship with God forever. But it also means bearing the sins of each other in the fellowship of believers, not by ignoring sins, but by acknowledging them and dealing with them sacrificially. However, this is offensive to people who love their sin.

We look at God--who forgave US while we were yet sinners, and not repentant, and we remember that we were once such as these.

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