Friday, May 27, 2011

HOW LOVE WINS - Part Three

Illustration #2

This illustration expresses an important perspective on the complex nature of love. In a world where sin and evil are very real, love must express something more than universal tolerance, a softhearted hug or a grandmotherly frown of disapproval. Consider the following statement from Charles Finney as you read the illustration below. “It is impossible that love to the whole should not manifest severity and indignation to the part which rebels against the interests of the whole.”

Imagine having a recurring sore on your leg. It heals but soon returns. Upon visiting a doctor, you are told that it is a manifestation of a very aggressive, fast-growing form of cancer located in your leg. You are then told that if something is not done soon, it will spread into the major organs of your body and you will likely die within three to six months. At this point, the doctor tells you that he has a reputation for being the most loving man in his profession. Therefore, he tells you that he will be very gentle and respond by inflicting little to no pain or discomfort upon your diseased limb. He explains that he will simply place a Band-Aid on the sore, tells you to have a wonderful day and instructs you to come back in one year. Would this gentle, painless treatment be an act of love? We should quickly see that such behavior on his/her part would be overwhelmingly irresponsible. On the other hand, would it not be reasonable to expect that love would lead the doctor to arrange the severe operation of removing the diseased leg in an attempt to prevent the rest of the body from becoming diseased? A doctor motivated by love would not do so because he is mad at the leg or seeking to satisfy his bloodthirsty desires, taking great pleasure in chopping off limbs. This severe procedure is pursued as an act of love for the whole. At times, love demands that we engaged in appropriate, severe treatment of the part that threatens the wellbeing of the whole in order to promote the highest good of the whole.

Love is such a central aspect of the character of God, the kingdom of God and the ministry of the church that we cannot afford to embrace a distorted view of love. Many people rightly struggle with certain severe details revealed in Old Testament text. Such accounts look like the behavior of an emotionally controlled and anger driven being. Often, in response, some reject God and others simply ignore the presence of such accounts. It is the case that the concept of Hell creates similar challenges to our human minds[1]. A well-rounded view of the kindness and severity of love can help put things in their proper place.

"It is impossible that love to the whole should not manifest severity and indignation to the part which rebels against the interests of the whole." These concepts are tremendously important if we are to understand and represent God effectively and if we are to love others the way we are suppose to. We must understand and help others understand that God continually operates in love.


[1] I will offer an illustration regarding Hell in an upcoming entry.

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