When we become the "saints above" we will be
a united body in Messiah, and we will dwell in eternity in harmony, giving
and receiving love without measure from Messiah and each other. But
presently we're still the "saints below," limited, flawed, sometimes
defective - yet still loved and accepted by Elohim.
This letter is full of love. Personally, I'd like to dwell on other areas of the faith - powerful doctrines, healing, prosperity - but John just keeps coming back to love, love, love. I've never been all that comfortable with love, have you?
I'm afraid I'm kind of a love dummy. Dummies books - Golf for Dummies, etc. I even saw Sex for Dummies. But no book called "believer Love for Dummies."
I could use a book like that. For when I was growing up, my father always called me a dummy. I began to believe it. I believed I wasn't worth loving, and the love of a dummy wasn't worth anything to anyone else. Although I'm not a dummy anymore, the label still haunts me, and has caused me problems both in loving others and accepting love from others. You see, being labeled a dummy by someone I respected and loved helped chip away at the already low measure of self-esteem I had as a child. Even now, it's really hard for me to believe that anyone could love me, even Elohim.
Some of you have the same problem - I know I'm not alone. In fact, if there were such a thing, I think most of us could benefit from that little yellow and green book entitled Love for Dummies.
Desperate for Love
The way my mind works, if I just had a book that I could follow the step-by-step method to receiving and giving love without shame, that would be a good way for me to learn love. Some may agree - if there was only a book. Others find that laughable - who needs a book to learn to love? Love is all around and so easy to share. Still others may think, "I couldn't love or be loved even if I had a book." That's a sad state of affairs; yet it is very prevalent today. Josh MacDowell:
As a pastoral counselor, I find that most people I talk to do indeed suffer from the same deficit that I do - either they lack love and desperately desire to love and be loved, or they've just given up hope that they will ever be loved by anybody.
It seems that the problem we have with love in the body of Messiah begins with the fact that though we are all so similar, we are yet so different in our perception of ourselves and others;
When it comes to love, we have different temperaments, therefore, we have different needs;
We each need love at different levels and in differing quantities and qualities;
We seldom accept ourselves as Elohim accepts us, so how can we accept others?
And because we are different in all these ways pertaining to love, each has a limit to which he or she may share love with others that is ever so hard to extend any further.
It's true that when we become the "saints above" we will be a united body in Messiah, and we will dwell in eternity in harmony, giving and receiving love without measure from Messiah and each other. But presently we're still the "saints below," limited, flawed, sometimes defective -- yet still loved and accepted by Elohim. We are believer love-soldiers, but for now, we're not all wearing the same uniforms or marching in the same ranks or singing the same songs or even targeting the same enemies. And we are especially disparate when it comes to loving one another.
Temperaments and Love
If I were to write a book called believer Love for Dummies, it might run something like the following: believer psychologists tell us that, when we are conceived, we each receive a unique temperament by the order of Elohim. A temperament is the "inborn part of a person that determines how he reacts to people, places, and things." You received your temperament from Elohim at conception, and though you may mask your temperament, you may never change it. You are who you are, at least in terms of temperament, for a divine purpose.
Temperament is the determining factor in our ability to receive and give love. As I review a few of these god-given temperaments in terms of ability to love and be loved, perhaps you will be able to recognize your own style of loving:
1. The first temperament we'll call The Thinker (why!): The Thinker is a quiet person whose world is mainly on the inside. He is an intellectual, learning the deep secrets of life and the Lord. His nose is often in a book and his mind is often pre-occupied.
He needs only to show love to very few people and is often very selective in whom they respond to. The Thinker wants just enough love to get by, because he has a very hard time loving or even liking himself. Sometimes this makes it hard to love The Thinker. But if we can understand him, we can love him, and be loved by him to a great degree, with Elohim's help.
Elohim has a good reason for giving you or me the temperament of The Thinker. Thinkers are our great teachers, thinkers, and technicians. And, as "Wisdom is known by his deeds," The Thinker is known by his great acts rather than great ability to love or be loved.
2. The Director: The Director is a person whose world is mainly on the outside. He likes to be in charge, seeing to the work of the church and the mission of the Lord - managing, administrating, giving the orders. He has a great need for being loved and respected -- he is affectionate and may enjoy deep relationships with many of Elohim's people. But Directors will only accept love on their own terms; nobody else's. And often they see love as reward for their hard work.
Because the Director is controlling or pushy or assertive, some people have a hard time loving him. That's because the Director acts like he doesn't like you when he really does. He's just preoccupied with 'getting the job done.'
But if we can understand the Director, we can love the Director, and be loved by him.
Elohim has a good reason for giving you or me a the temperament of a Director, for, where there is great authority given, there is great responsibility expected.
3. The Socializer: Everyone wants to be around The Socializer - she is the life of the party. She loves being with people, and nothing is more important than to get out with the crowd. Everybody is crazy about her, because she is so outgoing and easy to love. The Socializer can give a lot of love, and feels good about herself enough to receive a lot as well.
But sometimes The Socializer tries to juggle too many loves - there are broken promises, surface relationships, and too little seriousness or follow through. Hearts are easily broken.
If we can understand the needs of The Socializer, we can love her for who she is, and receive her love graciously and in abundance.
Elohim has an important mission for The Socializer. Because she is so outgoing, she can win many people to Messiah, to the Church, to the family of Elohim. She is the evangelists, loving folks into the Kingdom so that The Thinker may show them the Lord's way and the Director may put them to work for Elohim.
4. The Wall Flower: She wants to be in with the people of Elohim: she knows she is loved by the Lord - anyway, that's what she's been told - but she desires to be loved and be ministered to by the people of Elohim, often without reciprocating. The Wall Flower sometimes wonders why she is in the world - she so desires lead her to her place and teach her what to do and where to go and how to live the life of Messiah. The Socializer is so outgoing and has so much love. But The Wall Flower, because she doesn't socialize, loses out on the love and affection of others. She so wants to be loved by others, yet may only sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to approach.
If we can see the Wall Flower for the crowd, and if we can take her hand and show her the way; if we can understand her, then we can love her, and teach her believer love, and be loved by her.
Elohim has a very important place in the Kingdom for the Wall Flower. She is Elohim's test for The Thinker, The Director, The Socializer: seek her out and win her, and you will win the world to the cause of love.
Love For Dummies
Friends, we are different - we love different - we want love differently. Yet we all need love and we all must be embodied in Messiah. And if we can begin to make an effort to love those who are unique or different or opposite us or unconventional or grumpy or controlling or phlegmatic or standoffish, yes, even those who have hurt us or controlled us or abused us. C. S. Lewis advises that:
Lewis really is reiterating what St. John has commanded us - "if you love Elohim, make and effort to love one another!" Once we do make an effort to love the Directors, the Wall Flowers, the Socializes, and the Thinkers of this world, we can begin to understand how Elohim can love us, despite how unique or different or opposite or unconventional or grumpy or controlling or phlegmatic or standoffish or mean-spirited or abusive or obtrusive or unlovely we may happen to be. The book Love For Dummies might then consist of but one page, and a short one at that:
FATHER YAHWEH LOVES YOU, DUMMY!
GO MAKE AN EFFORT TO LOVE SOMEBODY ELSE!
Love's Synergistic Affect
One of the reasons I believe Yahshua chose to die on a cross instead of being stoned to death, as was the penalty for blasphemy is because of the unique shape of the cross as it pertains to loving others, loving Elohim, and loving self. I call this cross the Love Cross:
Horizontal bars - hands stretched outward to others - on both sides "malefactors" - one open and one closed to Him. Yet he loved them both and we should love them all in the way of agape.
Realizing the differences in people and respecting those differences is a first step in becoming who we should be in Messiah's plan for us. For if we can love one another, then we can begin to understand vertical love as well - how Elohim above could love us and bestow on us a temperament to be used for his glory.
Love's Energy Is Self-Perpetuating and a Drawing Force
As we see Elohim loving us, despite our temperamental pimples or cancers, then we begin finally the third step of agape - that is to love ourselves as Elohim loves us. When we can do this, the motion of love becomes perpetual motion -
- energy builds up, and the power of love is made manifest. And when this begins to happen, then there will no longer be any need for evangelism programs or attendance crusades - people will come to Messiah by the droves. For the lost of this world, the unlovely, the unlovable, and the too-lovely, will begin to feel the power of real love
- the Messiah-like love,
- the love that makes the effort,
- the love that's horizontal and vertical and circular,
they will come to know us believers no longer as a bunch of love-dummies, but as Love Children of Elohim -- through the inescapable and transformative power of a love practiced to perfection.