Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bold Love and Evil

"If Christ, for one had practiced the love we advocate these days, he would have lived to a ripe old age."

In his classic book, Bold Love, psychologist and minister, Dan Allender writes compellingly of the face of evil in a world that is all things, not all love. He says, "We've come to view love as being nice. Forgiving and forgetting. Yielding to the desires of others. Yet the kind of love modeled by Jesus Christ, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and others has nothing to do with manners or unconditional acceptance. Rather, it is shrewd. Disruptive. Courageous. And as a result, often socially unacceptable."
Bold love is a harsh mistress, because there's nothing redeeming about a love that just blindly accepts.

What does it mean to love those who harm me? What does it mean, to love my enemy? The love of my friend is not so difficult. This story ultimately is about a forgiving love in a world side by side with the evil of the devil. Allender says that forgiveness surely does not mean forgetting the past, and ignoring the damage of harms past and present. Doing this would be erasure of one's personal history in the midst of a life. Human beings have been created lives worthy of love and forgiveness. We must first learn to forgive ourselves of the fault and failings that we have perpetrated. We must accept our humanness, our sometimes incomprehensible oddities and weaknesses.

"Bold love is a powerful agent of change that can transform both the lover and the beloved." The passion of bold love is a gift that brings a hardened heart face to face with a redemptive tenderness, and love of a Creator for his creation. We have all heard so much about God's love that his wrath and fury at our hardness and iniquity have been plowed under. There is no understanding of the Gospel message nor the centrality of the cross. Without recognition of the cross, its meaning and intersection of both, wrath and mercy are lost. It is a cross.

Mercy and its mysteries are great. Is it possible that we may be both passionately furious, and disposed to the doing of good?
Like the biblical figures Job and Jacob, we have the privilege to struggle with our failings, with God, and know that we will not be destroyed. Someone has been to the cross and shown us that. We are not to be in exile, nor a stranger to the promises of God. Not to be stripped naked and shamed, even in our darkest rage and most insolent self-justification, the face of God is there for the viewing. We may see his face and live.

The apostle Paul writes,  'For if we were God's enemies, we were reconciled with him through the death of his son.' Romans 5:8-10
"In his book, The Crucified God, Jurgen Moltmann expressed the loss for the Father and for the Son in this way: 'The Son suffers the dying; the Father suffers the death of the Son.
 The grief of the Father here is just as important as the death of the Son. The Fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the Sonlessness of the Father."

Allender writes, "Love is [now] before me, like a wall, like a deep cut on my hand. It is unforgettable; it is inflamed within me; it is a shrill, silent, noisy, still voice that captures my deepest and my most superficial thoughts." I am saved because he is mine and I am his. I am the deepest secret of God's heart.

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