Why Is Love So Mysterious?

The other day I posted a link to my article “Why Do Christians Deny The Power Of Love?” and someone responded by asking me this:

“Hi Keith, if you are willing, I’d like to go deeper into what you said in this article because I would like to understand where you are coming from. There were a few things you implied and I’m not familiar with what you are trying to say. Can you tell me how you are defining love in your article? It almost seems in your article that love is bigger than God because everything is about love and is subservient to love or love’s bigger picture. Is this what you meant?”

So, to clarify I responded with:

“Love can’t be bigger than God because God IS love. 

“And why don’t you know what love is? I think that should be obvious to us, if we have been loved by LOVE then we should have a pretty good frame of reference.

“‘Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said. So….how has He loved you? Make a list. Now, start to love others in that very same way.

“For some hints, we can also refer to 1 Cor. 13.”

 

Thinking that had done the trick I moved on, but then today this same person said:

“Thanks for the reply! I’m afraid I am still a little bit confused. Are you saying that however I feel love and think that Jesus has loved me actually is love? This seems to make love relative to each person because how I perceive love may not be how you perceive love. Or are you saying that I Cor. 13 is the standard that all of us must filter our experiences through?”

So, I can see this person is still confused – and this confuses ME. Why are people who are created by love, saved by love, transformed by love and commanded to love others as they have been loved, so completely befuddled by LOVE?

My response to her was this:

“Shouldn’t love be a Christian’s new language? How can we be confused about what love is, and what love looks like? Aren’t we experiencing this unending, inseparable, unchanging, transformative love every single moment of every single day that we are in Christ?

Why is love such a mystery? 

Here’s one way to know if you’re loving people the way Jesus commanded: If they feel loved, then you’re doing it right. If they don’t feel loved, keep trying.”

Earlier this morning I saw a comment on another thread where a different person was questioning one of my posts about following Jesus into nonviolence.

My post was this:

“If you pledge your life to obey a person who says we should love our enemies, you might not want to join another group that requires you to disobey those commands by using violence to kill other people.”

In response, one person said:

“I have to agree with CS Lewis on this one, if you are speaking of military or police or protecting one’s family or others. If police respond to an active shooter and he is killed that to me is a lot of nonviolence simply because violence was stopped. Would it be better if they, the police manage to stop him without him being killed? Most likely as long as he’s kept away from society. But I don’t think nonviolence is as simple as is not joining military or police sometimes it’s the most nonviolent thing for good people to do, one certainly doesn’t want bad people in those positions and there, unfortunately, is some. They are there to make us safer.”

My response to her was:

“Are you suggesting that “Nonviolence” is when we kill someone to stop them from doing violence? Is that your definition? Is that what you think Jesus means when he tells us not to resist an evil person but to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies?

“To me, it IS so simple. Jesus gave us – His followers – very clear commands about how we are to react to those who intend to do us harm – we are to love them, bless them, do good to them, turn the other cheek, and put down our weapons.

“Two of the most powerful things Jesus said were:

“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my disciples would fight.”

and..

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ if you do not do what I say?”
[and this was said directly after his Sermon on the Mount where he commanded us to respond to violence with love].

“I understand that this is confusing to us, especially when all our lives we have lived under a different way of thinking.

“This is why Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by saying: “Repent!” which literally means “Think differently!”, because he knows these ideas are not natural to us. 

“Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.”

Then she responded to this by saying:

“The urge to protect is God-given. I could cite verses on protecting the orphan, the widow, the refugee, the oppressed, but I won’t. God gives us the natural urge to protect to go against that is not like Him nor human. He gave us human reaction for a reason.”

And all I could say was:

“Yes, but protection need not be deadly or violent. Have you ever protected anyone? Where did you bury the bodies? 🙂 

Now, I do understand that the words of Jesus are not easy to accept. I think we DO understand Him, but we just can’t process it. We can’t make it fit our paradigm. So, we try to force it in there, we try to make it fit. But it doesn’t fit. It supersedes our logic and obliterates our reasoning.

We say, “If we don’t fight, we will die.”

But Jesus says, “If you continue to fight, you will be destroyed. Try something totally different. Not violence, but love. Not force, but kindness. We do not overcome evil with evil. We overcome evil with good.”

Can we accept this? Can we really believe in love? Can we really surrender ourselves to nonviolence and trust that Jesus knows what he’s talking about?

For thousands of years we’ve been trying it one way: Responding to violence with more violence. This is insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. The only thing we have yet to try, in any real way, is to love one another as Christ has loved us.

I think it’s worth a shot.

EDIT: After I posted this article here, one of my friends, (Epaphras Dove), responded to the comment about nonviolence beautifully by saying:

“The idea that “sometimes violence is necessary” stems from

1. Not believing God and

2. Being unimaginative. 

Most situations have nonviolent solutions, but it takes intentionality and practice to accomplish them. If we never think about or practice other ways of responding to threats when the time arises we’ll be at a loss of what to do because the world offers violence as the only solution. 

Do we offer the lame platitude “sometimes violence is necessary” for other things that go against what Jesus has taught us?


Can you imagine saying, “sometimes infidelity is necessary, after all God put within us the desire to procreate and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply”?


No, that would be ridiculous.”

Bravo.

**

Keith Giles new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

JOIN ME IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: Sept. 15 at “Proactive Love: How Loving Our Enemies Changes Everything”Register HERE>

I also co-host the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean and I live in Orange, CA with my wife of 28 years and our two sons.

BONUS: Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • BruceOcala

    In doing some research, I’ve been re-reading Walter Wink’s “The Powers That Be,” a nifty digest of his trilogy on The Powers. He has excellent explanations about non-violent resistance and takes a hard line on Augustinian Just War criteria that might be a good resource for your readers who want to explore further.

  • Maximvs

    Regarding your article on love, I found it very well written and full of practical advice. But love isn’t the end all answer to all our problems. Yes, the world would be a better place. Let’s be honest tho, will love ever reign supreme? Or will evil always triumph? If love trully is the highest expression of godliness, then why am I divorced living separately from my two sons? No, the road love leads us down, ultimately ends in disappointment. It is impossible for me to love those who continue to hurt me and live a healthy life.

  • Martha Anne Underwood

    “For God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son” and goes on to say that Christ came to save the world, not to condemn it. Your view is my view, too,

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I am not a pacifist because I would not be prepared to see others die while I do nothing, or nothing effective, in order to protect my own moral purity. I place love for others above moral purity. I can see an argument for allowing myself to die rather than kill (though I doubt in practice I would have the courage) but I would regard it as actively wrong to let others die to keep the blood off my hands.
    That being said, it is true that those who claim killing is “necessary” frequently mean “convenient” or “easier” and the circumstances where violence is justified have to be vanishingly small, but, crucially, I don’t think non-existent.
    Even in scenarios where there may, in fact, be a non-violent solution but, through sin, blindness and weakness we cannot see what it is, we are not then allowed to simply do nothing to help others for fear of sullying ourselves.