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Love

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by James_Lai, Nov 20, 2021.

  1. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    "we who first trusted in Christ" > in Ephesians 1:12.

    Believing needs to include trusting . . . not only trusting what we have been told, but trusting Christ includes submitting to Jesus and learning from Him >

    "'Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" (Matthew 11:29)

    So, trusting Christ includes obeying Him in His rest for our souls.

    And this, by the way, is included in how God loves people > while we are obeying Him in His love, we have His love's sweetly soothing rest (1 John 4:18) with His creativity for how to love each and every person.

    However . . . if ones do not obey God, of course they suffer deeply, possibly much worse than their circumstances can make them suffer. So, it is not that God is not loving them, but it is a problem of how they disobey the way our Father would take care of them!!

    If you love your child dearly, but the child hides in the back woods swamp, the child can get bitten by a snake or snapping turtle and get diseases from mosquitos and suffer from exposure and die or be disabled by mosquito-born neurological disease. With such a child, it might take some severe measures to control him or her; this does not mean you hate your child!! There are much worse things humans would do, were it not for the problems people face. Look at what humans became able to do to Jesus.

    Possibly, only fire can manage such Satanic people. Right now, we are only seeing God's resistance >

    "God resists the proud" > in James 4:6 and also in 1 Peter 5:5. But, like I offer, His resistance is caring, so ones don't get themselves into much worse.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  2. IWalkAlone

    IWalkAlone Well-Known Member

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    ..to everyone I hope. Without God there is only the darkness of the grave. It sounds morbid and cold. God is the light however, shining the light of life.
     
  3. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    God is also just. In fact, there is no true love without justice.

    Just because the Judge up at the Courthouse finds you guilty and sentences you to time does not mean he is not loving.
     
  4. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Well, I don't have the uncertainty you do. God's word, the Bible, indicates that Man is alone in a category of creatures God has made, solely reflecting the image of God. I believe the Bible is correct.

    This seems an odd basis for your skepticism. You don't seem like a ignorant person; there appears to be some education and reason informing your views. Why, then, resort to mere feeling as the basis for your doubt of the Judeo-Christian worldview of humanity?

    You don't have to feel superior to animals in order to be superior to them. God has made human beings a different sort of creature from animals, higher, much higher, in some fundamental ways.

    Well, His will doesn't have to remain a mystery to you. Read the Bible. God's will is exhaustively revealed to you in it.

    Most don't. It defies and confounds the common materialistic/naturalistic/humanistic philosophical underpinnings of western secular society. The Judeo-Christian worldview doesn't urge a careless, disrespectful attitude toward God's larger Creation, however. We are stewards of the earth, answerable to God for our care of it. But we are not servants of the earth, putting "green" interests and concerns above or before human ones. God has given us the world for our benefit, not the other way 'round.

    One would expect an artist to use the same basic materials in his paintings, vastly different in their subject though they may be. One would never confuse a painting of mountains for a painting of a giraffe, even though both paintings were created from the same basic materials, right? That God, then, has used similar physical materials to create monkeys and humans doesn't mean, necessarily, they are essentially the same thing.
     
  5. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Only to those who believe in Jesus see John 3:16 and read verse 18 to find out about those who do not believe in Jesus.
     
  6. IWalkAlone

    IWalkAlone Well-Known Member

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    We will all believe one day. Maybe it will be too late then but maybe not
     
  7. TedT

    TedT Member since Job 38:7

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    Ummm, no, only sinners die.
     
  8. IWalkAlone

    IWalkAlone Well-Known Member

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    We all die the first death.
     
  9. Martinius

    Martinius Catholic disciple of Jesus

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    The OP asks some interesting and important questions. At times I thought he might be baiting some respondents, but in reading through the posts, I think he is sincere.

    The initial question and discussion brings a related question to mind: Can there be love without God? We say that "God is love" but does that mean love can only occur because of and through God?

    Another issue that the OP and subsequent posts brings out is how the stories of the Old Testament relate to Jesus. I have always had great difficulty in reconciling what God does and commands in much of the OT with what Jesus did and taught.
    Is it necessary to accept what happens in the OT to be a Christian? If so, what about the many Gentiles who became Christians in the first decades after Jesus and the Apostles? They were likely not educated in the Hebrew Bible, and was it required that they learn about it and understand it to join the early Church? Could someone be a Christian without knowing about the OT?

    I do not think we can say that God "requires" us to love one another, as that implies we have no choice. But we do, so it is rightfully called a commandment, which may be obeyed or not. We unfortunately see that, even among "Christians", it has been poorly followed. I often think that the "narrow gate" that Jesus mentions is simply a test of how well we have loved our fellow humans. I'm afraid it will not be graded on a curve.
     
  10. James_Lai

    James_Lai Active Member

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    I understand. I thought along the same lines (minus God) for most of my life. 3 million years of evolution from higher primates, to put us on an unreachable pedestal.

    I don’t have a firm view, I’m looking. When I say that I feel smth, meaning, based on knowledge, observation and experience I tend to think so…

    From my engineering background looking at eusocial insects and which algorithms they use to achieve their goals vs. human social behaviour prone to maladaptive herding, I see that collective intelligence of bees is far more superior.

    There’s intelligence at work that is manifested outwardly in the physical life. At my leisure I once estimated how much memory would be required to pass down bird navigation information genetically to offspring. Birds use the geomagnetic field, the sun and the moon, constellations at night, landmarks on the ground visually, maybe smth else. Not fully understood about annual migration flyways for thousands of miles. The number of nucleotides in bird genome converted into Megabytes is way lower than required to code navigational data even if we program the simplest, most optimized models. There are many many other facts not just in ornithology of course. So, my conclusion is there’s consciousness/intelligence/soul outside the physical. Or our modern science is inadequate.

    So I had to expand my thinking from materialism I had stood on

    I do not see any fundamental difference between man and rest of life - because the same laws, principles, algorithms and same building blocks work everywhere. Even a prokaryotic cell is a true wander of a technological machine.

    So I see humans as a bigger bubble (more capable body) that managed to catch more air (intelligence) than smaller bubbles of dog or pig or banana, but it’s the same air in all the bubbles. By intelligence I imply cosmic consciousness or God
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  11. James_Lai

    James_Lai Active Member

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    I’m very confused… It’s hard to make sense of this life, and all theories offered are either too simplistic and are inadequate, or too complex and contradictory. Otherwise they consider only a certain aspect of reality and can seem to be elegant and correct… I appreciate you sharing about your difficulty accepting some of the OT vs. teaching of Jesus… Same for me.

    Love as choice, yes. All religions seem to say we are to love… I sometimes think of Love as the arithmetic operand of addition and hate as subtraction… I don’t know why God wants us to love, I really don’t. Maybe it’s beyond this world and so it’s beyond our understanding….

    Baiting… if so, not on purpose. Hard to stay on topic and easy to get worked up in arguments… Hard to formulate what you’re really looking for and why… Also hard to talk via text. I love face to face conversation
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  12. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    "In him we live and move and have our being."
    There is no true love without justice. . .God is not only loving, he is also just.

    Can we say the Judge down at the Courthouse who convicts and sentences you to time is, therefore, unloving?
    Yes.
    The NT reveals the narrow gate to be faith in and trust on the person and atoning sacrifice (blood, Romans 3:25) of Jesus Christ for the remission of one's sin and right standing with God's justice; i.e., "not guilty," declared righteous and, therefore, able to have fellowship with God without defiling his pure and holy presence with sin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  13. Martinius

    Martinius Catholic disciple of Jesus

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    We can't possibly understand the concept of God. It would be like an ant understanding the concept of flight or space travel. I agree that the consciousness/intelligence/soul is outside the physical, and man has formed that into our various ideas of God. All peoples and cultures seem to have some idea of a higher being, but they are not in agreement. That realization informs my belief that we are not able to fully understand God. We have a much better understanding of our world and the universe, but even that is still quite limited. But better than it was at the time the writers of the Hebrew Bible were at work. They wrote based on their very insufficient understanding of the physical world and the sciences. We see the result of that in the texts of both the Bible and many other writings from earlier times.

    I once had a kind of almanac of science written in the 1920's. In just a few decades much of it was outdated and even wrong. Imagine the difference between 2000 years ago and today.

    To help reduce your confusion, you may want to check out Stoic philosophy. Contrary to what most think, there have been many Christians who have embraced Stoicism to some degree. It is NOT incompatible with Christian theology, and much of it is monotheistic in nature and highly moral in direction. You can see many similarities between it and what Jesus taught in the Gospels.

    Imagine a world without love. We would not long survive. Love, caring and nurturing is not limited to humans. It can be seen in many places within the animal kingdom. If it is in our genes (or at least in most people's genes) that is because it appeared in the genetic code long ago. People say that fighting is a survival instinct, but so is love. It was discovered back in the 50's and 60's that nurturing is more important to an infant and more desired than food. Without it, development was thwarted and mortality was much higher. It may not be that God wants us to love one another, but rather that it is a necessity for our continued existence.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  14. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    God's Revelation of Himself isn't a text, but a flesh and blood human being: Jesus Christ. "The Word became flesh" (John 1:14).

    The way we know God as God really is, is through Jesus. Jesus said, "If you had known Me, you know My Father also; from now on you do know Him and have seen Him." (John 14:7)

    God's will for creation is life, love, and peace. That things should live, and live in harmony with Him and all else. We are called to love because God is love. That's the justice of God.

    To be made in the Divine Image means being a reflection of God's love; through human beings God desires to express His love and compassion for the world; just as through human beings the love and worship of creation is reflected back to God.

    God loves the universe.
    God created human beings to reflect Himself in the world: and that means loving one another and the rest of creation.

    This is why the Great Commandment is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself."

    This is not two separate commandments, but form part of one singular Great Commandment. Because it is impossible to separate love of God and love of neighbor. Whoever says they love God, but hates their fellow man, is a liar (1 John 4:20). It is by loving our neighbors that we love God.

    "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

    For Lutherans a work of love "for God" isn't a good work at all if it does not benefit my neighbor in some way. A good work is only a good work when it helps my neighbor.

    God doesn't have a hungry belly, or parched tongue, or a naked body exposed to the elements. But my neighbor does--my neighbor needs food, water, and clothing. Jesus says, "Whatever you have done/not done to the least of these you have done/not done it to Me".

    This is why St. Paul says in Galatians 5:14 that the entirety of the Law is summed up in "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

    It is impossible to love God apart from loving our neighbor. The love of God is found through love of neighbor. We are disciples and servants of Jesus Christ by loving other people.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  15. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    This is not at all the thinking I espouse. It is not a blind, indifferent, natural process that has made us what we are but God Almighty, conferring upon us special status in His Creation.

    Often times, what people are looking for is confirmation of what they want and who they are. If there is a God, they want Him to be merely a mirror of who they are, of what they think, and value, and believe. As a result, the God of the Bible is very...unpalatable. He doesn't conform to us but demands we conform to Him, as God has every right to do. God comes to us as our Master, not a mirror. Which thing are you looking for?

    Superior in achieving what ends? What do you mean by bee "intelligence"? Who decides what is "maladapative herding" and what is not? On what basis?

    If you begin with seeing everything as mere collections of physical attributes, there can be no other conclusion you can come to about "Man and the rest of life" but one that reflects this presupposition. If you do not allow at the outset that there is a higher, immaterial, supernatural dimension to life in which Man moves, then you will never see that this is so even when it is. Man and the lower biological life forms of the earth must seem of a single, fundamental kind, when all you're looking at - and are willing to look at - are the material aspects of life.

    This is to see things only as material objects, differing only in "size," or degree, in some physical respect. You won't find the Grand Intelligence, the First Cause of everything, with this narrow view.

    God is not what He has made.
     
  16. James_Lai

    James_Lai Active Member

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    Thank you.

    If I think I love my neighbour in action, but by doing so, I’m slowly destroying the environment - air, water, soil, flora and fauna - and accumulated actions over the time cause big problems like climatic disaster or famine or w or even risk complete extinction to the descendants of my neighbour, can it be considered loving?
     
  17. James_Lai

    James_Lai Active Member

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    Yes years ago I did study quite a bit of the classical Greek philosophy and later period European philosophers. In my philosophy class at school the emphasis eventually was on how it all lead to the development of Marxism and Dialectical Materialism. Yes it would be interesting to refresh and to learn more, without looking through the Marxist ideological prism. I was taught that Christianity is the result of marrying traditional OT beliefs with Platonism, but mostly their own unique theology of course. The OT teachings were considered to be syncretism of the indigenous western-semitic traditions with dualistic Zoroastrianism in Babylon and Persia.

    Yes, especially in the first five years children need lots of love, otherwise it hinders their proper development. It’s when the majority of lifelong brain neural synaptic connection pathways are formed.

    From the evolutionary point of view love is group survival vs individual survival, but it’s a harmonious balance of the two tendencies that is favoured by evolution. Too much altruism and your genes are wiped off. Too much selfishness and eventually you start hurting the group and your species can go extinct (as did about 20 early hominins). You can have different computer models to recreate more loving and more selfish groups (societies) and see how they compare to each other in probability of lasting longer

    I’m thinking, there could be more more to love from what we can understand. I dont know
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  18. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    I mean, avoid doing that if you can help it, but yes, loving your neighbor--even if you are unaware of all possible consequences, is the right thing to do.

    We recognize that our good works are always small and meager. That's why works cannot justify us before God and "doing good works for God" doesn't really mean anything. Even our most noble of works are always going to be contaminated by good old fashioned run-of-the-mill sin.

    This is why understanding the proper place and purpose of good works is important.

    On the one hand, the more honest we are with ourselves and about ourselves, the more we see the insufficiency of our works. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, my best efforts seem to fall short. Good intentions might have unforeseen bad consequences. Or maybe, if I'm honest with myself, I acknowledge that I could have done better, or I could have done something else that would have been preferable. Any number of possibilities exist here. And if we let ourselves start to be overwhelmed by this, we start to drown in our own guilt. It leads us to despair, hopelessness, it's destructive.

    That's why the Law cannot save anyone. There is no remedy to the guilt-ridden conscience of the sinner found in good works.

    That's why the Gospel declares sinners forgiven, on account of Christ's righteousness. A righteousness that is made theirs by a free gift of God's compassionate and merciful love-kindness toward sinners. The Gospel declares forgiveness of sins, and gives faith by which to cling to God's promise of forgiveness in Jesus.

    Thus as Paul says in Romans 1:16-17, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to save all who trust, the Jew first and also the Greek; by it the justice of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written, 'The just shall walk by faith.'"

    The righteousness or justice that is by faith is the freely given righteousness of Jesus, imputed to sinners. The sinner is reckoned righteous on Christ's account.

    And in the freedom of conscience before God which is ours because of this forgiveness and grace received; to take that freedom to take up our own cross as disciples of Jesus. And thus good works are works of freedom in faith, for the sake of our neighbor.

    It's not about the quantity, or even the quality, of those works. What matters is did my neighbor get fed? Did my neighbor receive drink? The question of whether the work is "good enough" for God is already done and dealt with--the answer is the imputed justice received through faith in Jesus Christ which is freely found in God's grace, given through the Gospel. All that remains is, where is my neighbor, that I may love them? And turns out, we're surrounded by neighbors. Friends, family, co-workers, strangers. The world is filled with over 7 billion neighbors.

    It's not about acting big to impress anyone. It's about loving our neighbor. That includes not being a jerk to our friends and acquaintances, or random people you talk to on the internet. Or offering a hug when your friend really needs a hug. The call to take up that cross and love, to deny self, to say no to our pride, to exercise our bodily members--our mouths, our eyes, our hands and feet--to acts of kindness, love, and justice. Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed is the peacemaker; love your enemies, turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile.

    In this, though we continue to sin and fail and falter, we nevertheless fulfill the Law (Galatians 5:14), not by our righteousness measuring up to an impossible standard; but because God promises that, somehow, in someway, all of these broken things will be put back together.

    "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10

    "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:58

    -CryptoLutheran
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  19. Silly Uncle Wayne

    Silly Uncle Wayne Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that I'd agree that all religions are basically an outlook at love. Islam isn't. Buddhism, as I understand it, is about karma, which may include good deeds, which might include love but is really about the good deed. Ancient mythical religions were never about love (unless you count eroticism as 'love')

    Christianity is the religion where love is not a means to an end, but rather an act in and of itself with no purpose other than to bless someone else: 'Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his brother'.

    The other problem is the definition of love. Generally in my experience when people in general are talking about 'love' in modern English they are referring to something emotional, but the Bible primarily is dealing with love as an action, occasionally in spite of emotions.

    I'd be interested in which specific actions of God you are referring to as 'clearly unloving'. I can only think of a few incidents that might be considered unloving, but not by those people at that time, so not clearly so.
     
  20. ldonjohn

    ldonjohn Active Member

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    John 3:16 answers that question for you. Of course if you don't believe the bible to be true then you cannot know the love of God.
     
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