In his book Practice Resurrection Eugene Peterson quotes a fellow named Herbert Butterfield who wrote a book called International Conflict in the Twentieth Century. Mr Butterfield wrote the following in that book:

“Let us take the devil by the rear, and surprise him with a dose of those gentler virtues that will be poison to him. At least when the world is in extremities, the doctrine of love becomes the ultimate measure of our conduct” (as quoted by Peterson, p 265).

This afternoon, I read through the short letter Peter wrote to those who were ‘scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythinia.’ I have read through Peter’s letter several times, and I have preached through it more than once. I saw something this morning which made me do a double-take–maybe something I hadn’t seen before or had and wasn’t all that interested in. Either way, I saw it; I was caught.

Peter’s letter is normally exegeted in such a way that the exegete will be able to expound dutifully on the virtue of suffering as Christ suffered. That is to say, Peter wrote about how to suffer as a Christian. To be sure, Peter does write quite a bit about suffering—suffering in a variety of contexts and at the hands of a variety of people. If there is someone who can cause suffering for the believer, they have caught Peter’s eye and he has written of how the Christian can and should respond. All of this suffering we do is blended, in Peter’s letter, with both lengthy and pithy explanations and expositions of Jesus’ suffering. Somewhere in all five chapters Peter talks about Jesus’ suffering.

That is good.

But there is an undercurrent also in Peter’s letter that might be easily enough overlooked if we do not pay attention (as evidently I have done). It’s one of those ‘forest and trees’ things. Easily enough are we caught up in conversations about suffering and how we suffer and why we suffer and where we suffer and who is suffering and so on and so forth—and, we should not dismiss the suffering of Jesus which is the context in which all of it makes sense. The undercurrent in Peter’s letter is what we do for one another when we suffer. He begins in chapter 1, verse 8, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Peter’s optimism shines out: Though you have not seen him, you love him. In light of Jesus’ suffering, we suffer and while we do we hold fast to our love of him. Jesus suffered. We suffer. We love Jesus whom we have not seen. It all makes good sense. We love Jesus. Yet Peter spends significantly small amount of time expanding on this love we have for Jesus and instead turns his attention back to people we do see, those people on earth who dress funny, who stink, who irritate us, who gossip about us, who live side by side with us in the congregation called the body of Christ—that is, those we suffer with every day. And his word for us is difficult.

I don’t think loving Jesus, whom we have not seen, is all that difficult. Peter must not think so or he would have expanded on it a bit more. It is loving those we live with that is difficult. It is the loving of those we have seen that is so confounding. Love one another, he writes, not just once, but nearly as often as he writes of the death and suffering of Jesus. And he starts right in, badgering us for our lack of love and compassion for one another: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22) In other words, “You are really good at doing things like staying pure in a funky, armpit kind of world. And you say you have sincere love for each other. Now do it! Get on with the business of loving each other, deeply, from a place inside of yourselves.” Most of us can keep rules all day long. Most of us can stay pure all day. But can we love each other? Will we?

Holiness is easy. Love is difficult. Yet Peter seems to believe the two are somehow intertwined, bound up together like Gollum and the Ring. Loving Jesus whom we cannot, have not, seen is a piece of cake. Loving one another whom we see every day—that’s another story. Holiness is important, no doubt. But what is holiness if we do not love one another deeply, from the heart? “This is the word that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25). “This” includes the admonition to ‘love one another.’ Loving one another is just as important as our born-againness, as the death of Jesus, as the resurrection of Jesus, as preaching, as prophecy—it’s a cardinal doctrine. Love one another.

He doesn’t let up either. “I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Great! Another passage about living pure and holy lives in the bowels of existence. No sweat! But he doesn’t stop: “Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17). Well, what does fearing God and honoring the emperor have to do with the way I treat those who are my brethren in Christ? Seemingly nothing, except that it’s easy to fear God, it’s easy to respect the emperor, and it’s easy to show respect to ‘everyone.’ What is difficult is the loving of my brother and sister in Christ when the only motivation for doing so is because Jesus expects me to whether they love me back or not. Sometimes I wonder if we are not more threatened by those in the body than we are by those who are not.

I like how Peter sort of throws that in there. “Hmm…let’s see…respect EVERYONE, fear God, the emperor, laugh at Muppets, dance with clowns….oh, yeah, LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” It’s like he’s going to throw that in every chance he gets in order to remind us of what really matters. Holiness matters. Human authority matters. But you must not forget to love one another. If you succeed at loving God and honoring the emperor but fail at loving one another–well, you have not succeeded at all.

He doesn’t stop. In chapter 3 we learn that we will most certainly suffer in this world: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (1 Peter 3:13-14). But before all this, before he warns us of insults, evil, suffering, threats of violence, and all this he has the nerve to say: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). The last thing he says is: Love one another. You are going to suffer. You are going to have bad days. You are going to be thrown under the bus by anyone and everyone in this world: Love one another.

The world is going to spit upon you every chance it gets; love one another. Treat each other right. You are going to have enough trouble in this world without going to all the effort to create it amongst yourselves. And this is the problem I have seen in every single church I have preached among. Churches do not really know how to love each other, and, frankly, no amount of exhortation from the pulpit or reading from the Scripture or praying in the closet seems to alter the simple fact that we, the body of Christ, do not know how to love each other.

Don’t think I’m preaching this from the loft, wearing a halo, and fluttering about with wings. I’m am chief among sinners here. Maybe we do not know how to love each other because we do not know how to suffer together, as a body? Maybe when one part suffers we are far too content to allow that one part to suffer alone or with the pastor or with their family. Maybe suffering needs to be more of a communal thing in the church—but we are too quick to abandon those who suffer, thus love is never truly cultivated and never truly matures among us. Maybe this is an American church phenomenon. Maybe churches in, say, Africa, where suffering takes place daily, do know how to love each other precisely because they have suffered together.

And still Peter doesn’t stop: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

“The point is that in the situation of persecution the one thing that matters above all else is love toward one another. It has to be a ‘deep’ love, but the English word doesn’t adequately convey the sense of the Greek ‘at full stretch.’ Why at full stretch? Because this love will be stretched to the limit by the demands made on it. Let us remind ourselves that Christian love means caring for other people in their needs and that such care will be accompanied by a growing affection for them. Many people are prepared to care for others; they are less ready to have affection for them and to demonstrate it. It requires love at full stretch to do this” (I Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, 143).

It is inevitable that we will sin. It is probably even more inevitable that we will sin against one another. These sins, grievous and heinous as they are, can be forgiven. I don’t think this means that the person sinned against simply overlooks the offense. That doesn’t seem to square with other thoughts in the New Testament that we have a right, perhaps an obligation, to confront those who sin against us in order to either offer or obtain forgiveness. Rather, I think Peter is drawing on the imagery of the work of God:  God’s love covers a multitude of sins. The cross has been in every thought he has uttered in this letter, surely he is thinking of God’s great love. In other words, God forgives, we should too. And as God does not continue holding on to our sin once he has forgiven us, so too should we let go when we have forgiven or been forgiven by others. Whatever else ‘covers’ might mean, it surely means that the sins are no longer visible in some sense. They are forgotten, hidden, no longer a part of the memory or function of the relationship. Love conquers all. Love wins.

Love does this. Only love does this. Only because we love Jesus whom we haven’t seen are we able to love those whom we have seen. So as Peter wraps it up, he has one last charge for us: “Greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Peter 5:14). In other words: demonstrate your deep, from the heart, sincere, compassionate, sin-covering love for one another by laying a big, wet sloppy one on each other. I suspect James would tell us not only to kiss the lovely and good smelling folks among us, but also the broken and smelly ones too.

We are not so cultured in our world where a kiss of affection and love is often shared among brethren. It’s not the way we roll. But I wonder if a handshake sort of misses the point? We shake the right hand of fellowship and carry a dagger in the left. I wonder if a hug is too phony. I wonder if a kiss gets at the root and heart of the matter. In a kiss we expose ourselves to all sorts of trouble—not least of which is sickness. A kiss, however, is intimate. It is necessarily sexual. A kiss necessarily exposes us to the one we share the kiss with. Just ask Judas or Caesar. Maybe Peter had in mind Judas who betrayed Jesus with such a kiss: “Don’t be like Judas and betray with a kiss. Let your kiss be one of love.”

Whatever the case may be, and it is possible that I am overstating the case, Peter’s charge here is definitely that our love be demonstrated. I don’t know how this gets accomplished in various cultures. I don’t know if a kiss is like foot-washing and merely a cultural thing we must adapt in some way. But I am fairly certain we must find a way to demonstrate, without hypocrisy, our love for one another.

Peter has covered a lot of ground here, right?

You are in the process of becoming holy, don’t forget to love each other while doing so or else your holiness will amount to nothing. (1 Peter 1:22).

You are living under strange conditions as foreigners and exiles, facing all sorts of strange masters and rulers, don’t forget to love one another which is just as important as living at peace with everyone else (1 Peter 2:17).

You are going to suffer in this life, here on this earth. You will have enough trouble on this earth without inviting it into your fellowship, so love one another; you need each other’s love when the world is destroying and hating you. (1 Peter 3:8).

You are anxiously awaiting the day to be revealed, to see how all of this will turn out in the end, but while you wait, there will be times when we sin against one another. In light of what we await, love one another and forgive. Deeply. (1 Peter 4:8).

And don’t forget to make certain that your love for one another is not merely in words or in thoughts. Demonstrate it, intimately, with a kiss of love. (1 Peter 5:14)

Jesus created the church to be a place, a people, who will support, strengthen, comfort, forgive and love one another while we are doing life together. As always the question remains: How am I perpetuating love and contributing to an atmosphere of love? Am I a  balm of healing or picking at scabs?

Peter’s letter amply describes and portrays the difficult world we live in, a world where we will have much trouble, but it is also the world where some have been marked by the cross of Jesus. We will have enough trouble in this world without being trouble for one another. And how else will we take the devil by the rear if we do not love one another?

Soli Deo Gloria!

  • Share/Bookmark

Tags: , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 10:46 pm and is filed under Church and Society, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

67 Comments(+Add)

1   Joe    http://christianresearchnetwork.com/index.php?s=john+chisham
January 6th, 2011 at 12:20 am

Peterson is a heretic that preachers Universalism, doesn’t care about the true gospel, and represents the whore of the western church.
I just wanted to get that out of the way so that we can actually discuss the post.

2   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 7:14 am

Love? God’s love exhibited through His followers? Can we love the gays, the abortionists, the liberals, the conservatists, the illegals, the whores, etc., etc.? And what about loving each other?

Before we can even discuss the post (which is good) we might want to define what true love is and looks like when exhibited. John 3:16 seems to indicate that we should love our enemies just like we love our own children.

Perhaps our lack of love is a reason why we are so powerless and dark in the midst of darkness. We seem to love our theologies, our selves, our possessions, our evangelism methods, our country, our careers, and have so little discernable love for all sinners, saved and lost.

Love conquers all? Absolutely!! But what is that love and how is it recognized?

3   Eugene    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 8:44 am

If there is one mystery greater than the “insane” love of God for us it is His decision to use us fallible people as messengers of this unconditional love. We who tend to love only conditionally. To my mind that is an insane decision!

4   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 8:53 am

Rick,

Without sounding trite, I want to say that love for one another actually begins with affection for one another which is then manifested in kindness towards one another.

Seeing each other as people who love and are loved by Jesus makes this possible. This is why I believe Peter writes as much of the crucifixion as he does of love in this letter. One begats and sustains the other.

We are all people of the cross.

jerry

5   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
January 6th, 2011 at 9:12 am

#2 this is a question that must be answered, and can be answered from the scripture. How do we love God first and primarily and love people?

The New Testament is replete with admonitions about how to love God.

1John 2 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 4 19We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The keeping of God’s Word is wrapped up with loving God, Jerry. You cannot separate the two. You cannot say that you love God, for example, and say you love the world and the things in the world. If your primary love is not God and His ways, then you do not love God.

And the unfortunate thing about this article, which is excellent, is that it is fundamentally wrong in the assertion that it is easy to love Jesus and hard to love people. No, our primary mandate is to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. Out of that is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And in the church, we are to love one another, to submit to one another out of a reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5: 21)

I do not think you meant to make that wrong distinction

I don’t think loving Jesus, whom we have not seen, is all that difficult.

in other words, I do not think you believe that we should love people primarily and not God primarily. I do not think Peter meant that either. Out of a sincere love for God, and for keeping his commands, and as a reflection of keeping the command of Jesus to love one another, we ought to do this.

I think it is also fair to note that this love is reserved primarily for the brethren; we love the brethren whom, in context, we are with, and are in agreement with, and are battling side by side by side with. We are to love the brethren differently than we love those who are in the world.

6   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 9:16 am

Maybe you missed this:

Love does this. Only love does this. Only because we love Jesus whom we haven’t seen are we able to love those whom we have seen.

7   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
January 6th, 2011 at 9:40 am

#1 Thank you for getting that out of the way Joe. We should not be reading authors like Peterson and Bell and Pagitt and McLaren when there is such a wealth of great stuff in God’s Word.

You used the H- word….not me…

8   pastorboy    http://www.riveroflifealliance.com
January 6th, 2011 at 9:40 am

#6 Maybe I did…..

9   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 11:29 am

I will publicly admit a personal conundrum. Mother Theresa did not allow her people to share the gospel to Indian lepers. That is a great problem.

But I cannot think of anyone who exhibited sacrificial love any greater than did she. She gave her entire life for others.

That is a personal conundrum to me, and I always feel unqualified when I correctly point out her lack of gospel. When we speak about showing God’s love for each other and to sinners I suggest we are offering more wind than evidence.

We are very poor prisms.

10   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
January 6th, 2011 at 11:48 am

Jerry – very good article overall. You hit on some very key things that are inescapable in their meaning, yet often just beyond our grasp in practice.

I take your definition of “holiness” to mean that kind of holiness that we generate on our own… the externals we implement, often with little change of heart (and oftentimes, with increasing self-righteousness).

I think, in scripture though, holiness (likeness to Christ, as I understand it) would include love for one another.

What I like is your insight: in our pursuit of holiness (read, separation from the world), we sacrifice love.

In God’s view of holiness, there is no separation. You cannot be holy without love. Somewhere, we’ve gone terribly off the rails.

Maybe churches in, say, Africa, where suffering takes place daily, do know how to love each other precisely because they have suffered together.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

11   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
January 6th, 2011 at 11:50 am

JC Ryle – Holiness:

Our lives will always be doing either good or harm to those who see them. They are a silent sermon which all can read. It is sad indeed when they are a sermon for the devil’s cause, and not for God’s.

12   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

What do you mean? This is not the case in Africa? (Which was, to be sure, a mere example. Maybe I could have just limited it to the church Peter was writing to.)

13   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I take your definition of “holiness” to mean that kind of holiness that we generate on our own… the externals we implement, often with little change of heart (and oftentimes, with increasing self-righteousness).

You should take it mean whatever Peter meant in verse 22. In my reading, one (love) seems to be the consequent of the other (holiness). But I’m willing to hear others on this.

14   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
January 6th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

What do you mean? This is not the case in Africa?

Right – this is just not the case in Africa. The point being that just because people suffer does not ensure that love increases (in other words, it’s not a matter of mathematics. For example, more suffering does not equal more love).

I can say this from firsthand experience in Africa.

I know it was an example, and you were not being conclusive at all, but I think it’s based on a false premise.

In my reading, one (love) seems to be the consequent of the other (holiness).

Yes, I think this is correct. And so, when holiness is reduced to what we’re against or what we don’t do, we completely miss the mark on love. 1 Cor 13 is a beautiful depiction of love and holiness.

15   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

We continue to speak of love in the abstract. What are the tangible expressions of divine love that can be clearly seen in the western culture?

(There is much hatred among believers in Africa.)

16   John Hughes    
January 6th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Without sounding trite, I want to say that love for one another actually begins with affection for one another which is then manifested in kindness towards one another.

No. No. No. Agape love has nothing at all to do with affection.

The Greek language has very different words with different definitions for “love”.

The love we are discussing here is “agape” which can be summarized as: “benefit to others at my expense”.

Then we have “phileo”: brotherly love.

Then we have “eros”: romatic love.

Then we have “storge”: familial love / natural affection.

Agape love has nothing to do with affection, per se. Further, of all the types of love it is the only one that is a love by choice / will. It is a decision, a decision to do good to others. It is an action, not a feeling.

Therefore, when someone is mean to me I can choose to “apage” them. to be kind and to benefit them at my expense (e.g., pray for those who use me, go the extra mile for those who coerse me, feed my enemies).

I am not commanded to have affection for my ex-wife for example. but I am commanded to agape her which includes forgiveness and being kind and benefiting her where possible).

When you grasp the truth that God’s love is a decision of the will which bestows benefit and not necessarily affection it really frees you up to forgive. I can decide to benefit my enemies. I can’t decide to have fond affection (storge) my enemies which is not a love of the will. I can’t command affection. I can command benefit.

I refer everyone to “Love Life for Every Married Couple” by Dr. Ed Wheat which goes into greater detail on these differientations.

17   John Hughes    
January 6th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

What are the tangible expressions of divine love that can be clearly seen in the western culture?

Feeding the hungy.
Clothing the naked.
Funding missionaries
Visiting the sick.
Sharing the gospel.

etc.

18   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

The point being that just because people suffer does not ensure that love increases (in other words, it’s not a matter of mathematics.)

I don’t think I am saying it is a matter of mathematics. I’m saying that the occasion of suffering together, as the churches Peter wrote to most certainly did, gave greater occasion for, and a much better understanding of, his appeal to them to love one another.

I fully realize that it is not a matter of tit for tat, ie. suffer more, love more. But I don’t think we can just write it off either as if suffering has nothing to do with the affection we have for one another and the demonstration thereof.

To Rick’s point, I never said the African church was perfect. So let’s leave Africa out of it and go with ‘Africa’.

19   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

John,

Thanks, but I am well aware of the various Greek distinctions for what we generically call ‘love.’

Yet, Peter’s command to greet one another with a ‘kiss of agape’ seems to strive against your more flattened , and emphatically negative (’no, no, no’) interpretation. I disagree there is no affection in agape–as if it is merely a matter of will or a rule we are to follow.

This is Marshall’s point: it must stretch. Love that merely remains an obedience to a law is not agape, but legalistic duty. Love then fails to be a matter of a truly Spirit changed heart and is, instead, a mere obligation–like cleaning the toilet, which most of us do with zero affection whatsoever.

jerry

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

#17 – Yes, indeed. But those things must be in the context of sacrifice, and the observable living revelation of giving oneself for the good of other (i.e. the cross).

It cannot be a comfortable and convenient part of a well rounded lifestyle which saves the best for oneself. It must be a life that can only be described as crucified, and is so confounding that it elicits thoughts of “Why?”.

Only then can we be considered as light or salt or readable epistles whose theme is Christ. The tithe is obsolete and dead; crucified death is our exhortation. I must agree that affection is a vital part of love, which begins and ends with affection for Christ and is filled with affection for what Christ loves – sinners.

21   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 6th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Maybe the best way we demonstrate love for one another has nothing to do with the mechanical, typical list in #17 and instead is merely a matter of the development of affection for those we are most disinclined to demonstrate affection for.

Maybe that was Peter’s point–affection counts just as much as giving someone a hamburger.

I’m not attempting to be snide here either, but genuinely serious. There are people in the church, right now, whom I would give the shirt off my back–as a matter of duty–but for whom, and here is where I mentioned that ‘chief among sinners’ thing above in the OP, I have very little affection for.

I’ve always heard people in the church say silly things like, “Agape means we can love people, but we don’t have to like them.” What a load of impractical skubala that has turned out to be! My point, concerning affection, is that if agape is different, then it must show itself to be different.

Loving the unloving, loving the unlovely, loving those I cannot possible love, with the same sort of affection that Jesus loves me, is, I suggest, the direction we must travel if we want to get it right. It may start with duty, but I do not believe it can stay there and be genuine.

22   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

“the development of affection for those we are most disinclined to demonstrate affection for.”

That, my friend, is a truly amazing truth put in a truly amazing way. It startled my inner man. Thank you, Jerry.

(The entire comment is actually very profound.)

“Loving the unloving, loving the unlovely, loving those I cannot possible love, with the same sort of affection that Jesus loves me, is, I suggest, the direction we must travel if we want to get it right. It may start with duty, but I do not believe it can stay there and be genuine.”

Again, a practical and spiritual description of manifested love that mirrors the cross. Wow…

23   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
January 6th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I am not commanded to have affection for my ex-wife for example. but I am commanded to agape her which includes forgiveness and being kind and benefiting her where possible).

This reminds me of a passage from Greg Boyd’s book, Repenting of Religion.

If you simply act loving to your wife because you’re commanded to, than it really does not allow your wife to fully experience love. I don’t necessarily think it’s possible to agape someone without having affection for them. Yes, we can decide to act a certain way towards people, but if that action is not tied at all to our emotions, it’s sort of a charade. I think it’s why some people who receive charity from different people or groups actually hold some resentment to the ones giving them things. If there isn’t any real affection shown, the people receiving the aid are little more than social projects.

It’s interesting that in Deuteronomy 10:15, it says, “Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.” God didn’t just choose to love Israel – He chose to set His affections on them.

24   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
January 6th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

If there isn’t any real affection shown, the people receiving the aid are little more than social projects.

Good comment. Also, the description John gave seems to gut 1 Cor 13 – the “more excellent way”.

Paul specifically outlines acts of love that, on the surface, reflect sacrifice and the like… but the question was whether they were tethered to the actual person and what their motives were.

I am thinking specifically of “giving all my goods to feed the poor” and yet without the affection of love. He beautifully outlines what love is: patient, kind, etc.

The consistency of love is noted everywhere – Paul, Peter, James, John, and of course, the Lord Christ Himself.

This has been a good thread and has got me thinking… hopefully it will get me acting as well.

25   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

At this point in this discussion I find to be most thought worthy and with many points that we all could find personally challenging. This is what a blog thread should be.

26   Neil    
January 6th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

If you simply act loving to your wife because you’re commanded to, than it really does not allow your wife to fully experience love.

but at least it is a start. i’m not say’n it’s an acceptable end, but it is better than no loving treatment at all.

I don’t necessarily think it’s possible to agape someone without having affection for them. Yes, we can decide to act a certain way towards people, but if that action is not tied at all to our emotions, it’s sort of a charade.

again, i think loving others out of christian obligation is better than not at all.

27   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 6th, 2011 at 9:48 pm

“If you simply act loving to your wife because you’re commanded to, than it really does not allow your wife to fully experience love.”

What more do you do then what many unsaved (publicans) do?

Obligation comes from the law. Affection is a change of the heart.

28   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 9:10 am

Paul,

Yes. 1 Cor 13 is **the** definition of agape, so let’s take a look at it.

Love is patient [non emotion], love is kind [action] and is not jealous [emotion dampening]; love does not brag [action] and is not arrogant [non-action], does not act unbecomingly [action]; it does not seek its own [action], is not provoked [action], does not take into account a wrong suffered [action], does not rejoice in unrighteousness [action], but rejoices with the truth [internal emotion]; bears all things, believes all things [action], hopes all things [action], endures all things [action].

Kindness is not affection. Compassion is not affection. Several are conflating too many terms which have different meanings.

Tender affection is reserved for family and friends, not ones enemies.

In scripture I am told to be kind and compassionate and forgive my enemies. I am never told to have affection for them (storge), or phileo for them which are all different from agape. I refer back to 1 Cor 13, the definition of Agape love which again can be summarized as “benefit to others at my expense.”

I can love (eros) my wife and yet be un-kind and un-compassionate and unforgiving to her.

To say we must have affection for our enemies is to place an unbiblical burden on people. To say we must forgive (a decision of the will) and love (agape) them (a decision of the will) is both biblical and possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

29   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
January 7th, 2011 at 10:02 am

John, you bring up a fair argument. I do agree with you that love is a choice; it is an action.

You say:

Kindness is not affection. Compassion is not affection.

I would say that these two words are, in fact, rooted in the emotions. For example, you “feel” compassion for others.

In your outline of 1 Cor 13, many of the terms you define have a lot of emotional overlap. It’s not cut-and-dry.

I am wondering if perhaps Paul, when he mentioned “giving all my good to feed the poor” was trying to drive people beyond just action.

To say we must have affection for our enemies is to place an unbiblical burden on people.

Yes, there is definitely truth in this statement… You are right in the sense that emotions can’t be forced.

You can only trust someone when you know them. Not simply because they say, “Trust me.”

30   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
January 7th, 2011 at 10:09 am

I don’t think anyone is denying that a conscious act of will is necessary in fulfilling the command to love our neighbors. There can be good done is being generous to someone just out of obedience. Over time, if we are obedient in this, we will probably find our hearts turning toward the ones we are being generous to. However, I don’t think it’s a guarantee. It is possible for humans to just go through the motions and turn obedience to the law into and end of itself. This is what the pharisees did that angered Jesus so much. Instead of recognizing the heart of the Torah, they made fulfilling all their fence laws surrounding the Torah more important than actually letting the Torah affect their hearts.

As far as the word “affection”, I don’t think it is a purely emotional thing. There are some elements of our emotions that our beyond our control, but not all of them are. Are will can greatly influence our emotions. I also don’t know that one can truly agape someone without having some real change in their emotions toward that person. If my wife showed me all the self-sacrificing love in the world, but yet had a strong negative reactionary negative emotional response while in my presence, I would not feel loved by her. Love isn’t all about emotions as we make it out to be in movies and music, but it doesn’t exist in a realm apart from them either.

31   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 7th, 2011 at 11:11 am

#28, Did you say others are conflating?

Have you seen the hairs you have to split to come up with that interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13?

Wow. But that’s your opinion, and entitled to it you are.

I in no way condone or agree with your interpretation and feel sorry for those to whom you will demonstrate such love. Your reliance on the vagaries of Greek word choice is confounding–especially since eros and storge appear nowhere in Scripture.

So how are you going to eros your wife when the Bible never tells you to? All you can do is agape her or phileo her. You argument is strange.

32   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 7th, 2011 at 11:25 am

Love always manifests itself in certain ways, however it begins with the affections of the heart. If you feed the hungry based upon a perceived duty, then you do the exact same thing when you feed your cattle.

33   Neil    
January 7th, 2011 at 11:31 am

…and my only point was to say – in that case at least the poor and cattle are fed.

of course doing it out of duty alone is not best, nor should it be the acceptable condition.

but it is still better than not feeding the cattle or the poor.

34   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 7th, 2011 at 11:45 am

#33 – I would say, Neil, that is it better for the poor and the cattle, but as exemplified by the older son, it does little for those who are doing the feeding.

35   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 7th, 2011 at 11:57 am

And all I said, is that beginning with duty is one thing; staying with duty is something entirely different.

We must not stay with duty or it is only that, and not love.

36   Neil    
January 7th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

re 34 and 35 – i agree.

37   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 7th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

#35 – Bingo!

38   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I also don’t know that one can truly agape someone without having some real change in their emotions toward that person.

Phil, I agree with that statement absolutely and I am not state that agape is totally devoid of emotion, but that it is primarily expressed as actions made by the will and not emotions such as affection which appear who knows how in the heart.

If I am hungry, I would reather be on the receiving end of ones agape love(practical application than the emotional end of one’s affection).

39   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

So how are you going to eros your wife when the Bible never tells you to? All you can do is agape her or phileo her.

False dilemma.

40   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Love always manifests itself in certain ways, however it begins with the affections of the heart. If you feed the hungry based upon a perceived duty, then you do the exact same thing when you feed your cattle.

Rick, duty and obedience will get one through the tough times when their “heart is not with it” or “they don’t ‘feel’ like it”. As Phil said, our emotions will usually eventually come in to sync with our actions.

I believe what Paul was warning us in 1 Cor 13 is that actions without love gain us no **eternal** rewards. They are “useless” in the eternal rewards sense. They are certainly not useless to the hungry, naked, etc. As Jesus said, with the wrong motives your reward is your earthly praise (as you would get from someone you clothed or fed). That would be the sum total of your rewards. However, with the correct motive (service to God) you would receive a double reward (i.e., in both this world and the next).

Again, when push comes to shove, I’m going to side with duty and obedience because those will always get you through emotionally empty times.

41   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I in no way condone or agree with your interpretation and feel sorry for those to whom you will demonstrate such love

.

Ok. so let me get this straight, if someone robs me, or beats me up, or maligns me, or curses me or rapes my wife, or kills my child and I respond to them in my definition of agape love, i.e., I forgive them, I turn the other cheek, I have compassion for their lost estate and pray for them, I visit them in you jail, feed their kids, etc., etc. (all decisions of the will) you feel sorry for this guy because I don’t feel affection towards him? Cause that’s what you’re saying.

42   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 7th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

False dilemma.

Not at all. This is what you set up. Here’s what you wrote, in case you forgot:

I can love (eros) my wife and yet be un-kind and un-compassionate and unforgiving to her.

To say we must have affection for our enemies is to place an unbiblical burden on people.

You made this a matter of what is ‘biblical’ and ‘unbiblical’. Not me.

So, again, how can you eros your wife when the Bible doesn’t say to. That is, by your definition, unbiblical.

jerry

43   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 7th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

#41, no. That’s what you’re saying. What I’m saying is that if you do those things out of mere duty, it is not love; it is hypocritical at best; self-centered at worst.

Love devoid of feeling is duty. Duty infused with affection, compassion, emotion, feeling, is agape.

I’m saying that if you do all those things out of mere obligation, I don’t really think you love the person. And, as I said, that’s just my opinion which you are in no way obligated to agree with. I just believe that love, agape love, has to transcend duty.

I don’t believe for a minute that God agapes me or you solely out of some duty or obligation. I believe God loves me as a father loves a son: with affection, tears, emotion, compassion–from his heart.

44   John Hughes    
January 7th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Jerry, God does love all mankind in one sense, but he loves you, his son, in a special way reserved only for His true children, the Church.

Are you honestly saying that you are expected to have the same emotions for your enemies as for your own son? Where is that in the Bible?

Love devoid of feeling is duty. Duty infused with affection, compassion, emotion, feeling, is agape.

There is some truth in that statement, but it is a jumble of conflicting definitions. Affection and compassion are not in the same emotional category, for example.

The only emotion mentioned in 1 Cor 13 the definition of love is jealously, which is negative. Again, I am not saying there is not an emotional element to agape, it is just tangent and not central.

I have also stated my belief that in most instances emotions will logically follow consistent expressions of agape in action.

Love devoid of feeling is duty. Duty infused with affection, compassion, emotion, feeling, forgiveness, kindness, charity is agape.

Finally, duty is not a dirty word. Faithfulness (duty), even when devoid of emotion, can see us through a lot of dark days and provide the environment for love to blossom again even when it seems rrevocably lost.

45   Neil    
January 7th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Duty infused with affection, compassion, emotion, feeling, is agape.

maybe it’s just connotation, but when i see this list i agree with the possible exception of affection. for example, i can go to nyc and teach esl to muslim immigrants because they need jesus and english.

i can to that with compassion, emotion, and feeling for them. but how does “affection” fit. how can i have affection for a total stranger?

again, maybe i am misinterpreting “affection.”

46   Neil    
January 7th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I don’t believe for a minute that God agapes me or you solely out of some duty or obligation. I believe God loves me as a father loves a son: with affection, tears, emotion, compassion–from his heart.

i agree, of course. but god does not need to be commanded or instructed or encouraged to do anything.

i agree with john that “duty” is not a dirty word. though i must add that something only done out of duty, continually and for the long run, is lacking.

47   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 7th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

To be sure, I have never once said that ‘duty’ is a dirty word. Not once.

Again, John, I thoroughly disagree.

48   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 8th, 2011 at 12:18 am

Duty is a word that describes a servant and his master.

Love describes a Father and His child. a A distinct difference.

The love of Christ constrains me.

49   John Hughes    
January 8th, 2011 at 12:46 am

#48 again, a false dilemma, true but moot.

#45, exactly.

Also again, duty is commanded.

Rom 13:7 Render to all what is due them [duty]: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Duty, in an of itself is neutral. Duty (what is due) can be performed with various motivations: fear, coersion, habit, convenience, and yes, love. However, only one of these motives results in eternal rewards.

50   John Hughes    
January 8th, 2011 at 12:47 am

#47 – That was just the impression I got Jerry.

51   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 8th, 2011 at 2:28 am

What is interesting, is that I made (generally speaking) five (5) broad points about love in my OP. And I don’t think any of them had much to do with the point we have been arguing in the thread–a point which has been conflated from the phrase ‘one another’ as members of the body of Christ to humanity in general.

Now, to be sure, the quote from Howard Marshall clears the way for a discussion of love as affection, but where we have gone wrong is that the love that is a growing affection is a growing affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. I am sure I have contributed to the confusion, so let me state it here: the OP is talking about love for one another in the church.

The point of the post is love for Christian brothers and sisters in Christ–i.e., ‘one another’, which is the phrase Peter repeats at least five times in his letter.

I don’t see how anyone can argue that we are to have a love that is deep, sincere, from the heart, and dotted with a kiss (all words Peter used) for ‘one another,’ and not have affection be involved. We have transgressed here because we have assumed that the love of which Peter is speaking and I was expounding is general love for anyone and anything. Specifically speaking, I was talking about the church.

Good night everyone.

52   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
January 8th, 2011 at 7:04 am

” we are to have a love that is deep, sincere, and from the heart…”

The love that believers should have for fellow believers must be filled with pathos. We are to esteem others above ourselves and our entire beings must be motivated to minister to each other. Emotion? Affection? Yes, but it goes beyond the normal expressions of feelings. In fact, we are family, born of the same Spirit and grafted in to the same Vine.

This goes beyond “duty” since a robot can be programmed to perform tasks for others. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” I submit that much of what is called “duty” as it pertains to love for each other is practiced as a shallow and casual interaction that is unremarkable in a fast paced, facebook culture.

With the divorce rate at 50% and with almost every church experiencing bouts of conflict and power struggles, it is not unreasonable to assume we have lost the template for divine love toward each other, except in philosophy. Of course we have become adept at affirming ourselves in spite of the lack of observable evidence. Until those to whom we are “disinclined to show affection” are recipients of sacrificial love, our family remains dysfunctional.

53   nathan    
January 8th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

2 things:

while generally not a fan of D.A. Carson, because he is in his personal dealings and many of his writing quite arrogant, presumptuous and exhibits a critical spirit, I MUST recommend everyone read his book Exegetical Fallacies. It’s a text that sticks to his bailywick, and he actually nails it.

It decimates the popularized, but wrong headed notions of “different kinds of love” by virtue of philological hair splitting around “agape”, “phileo”, etc. etc. etc.

Second, Loving other people is loving God, for a Christian.
I find that when I’m concentrating on giving my daily effort to loving others, I really don’t have much time or opportunity for activities we typically think of as “private sin against God”…

54   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 8th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I find that when I’m concentrating on giving my daily effort to loving others, I really don’t have much time or opportunity for activities we typically think of as “private sin against God”…

Nor, I’ll bet, and for that matter, do you have time to split the philological hairs of the different sorts of Greek words used for love….

PS-I’m a big fan of Carson. And you are right: he nails it in that book.

55   John Hughes    
January 9th, 2011 at 1:08 am

It decimates the popularized, but wrong headed notions of “different kinds of love” by virtue of philological hair splitting around “agape”, “phileo”, etc. etc. etc.

Well I would posit that those distinctions are quite real and rather than “popluarized” have been around for quite a long time. I find it very humorous to note the definition of words as “theological hairsplitting”. Those pesky, pesky definitions. We would be so much better off without them. ;-)

From Dr. Vine, you know, one of those hairsplitters:

[agape] Love can be known only form the actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son. 1 John 4:9, 10. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, Rom 5;8. It was an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself. . .

Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feeling, it does not always run with the natural inclination, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all, Rom 15:2, and work no ill to any, love seeks opportunity to do good to all men and especially toward them that are of the household of faith.

Phileo is to be distinguished from agapao in this, that phileo more nearly represents “tender affection”.

Again, from a very practical viewpoint, this understanding has been utterly liberating in my life. It freed me from the notion I had to muster up fond affection for my “enemies” before I could truely love them. No, I can by a decision of my will, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, choose to forgive, extend kindness and charity and compassion for my enemies. And as Neil has previously commented,phileo (fond affection) does often follow the consistent application of agape love. For affection must result from association and knowledge of which does not normally happen between enemies or others different from ourselfs unless first initiated and then nutured by agape love.

56   John Hughes    
January 9th, 2011 at 1:13 am

[con't] before I was able to love them. No, I was able to love by a decsion of the will, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It is also interesting that Neil’s observation that affection (phileo) often follows agape is very true. But affection is born of knowledge of and association with which is often not possible between enemies or those “different” from ourselves with whom we do not ususally associate. Agape love breaks these barriers down.

57   John Hughes    
January 9th, 2011 at 1:24 am

It decimates the popularized, but wrong headed notions of “different kinds of love” by virtue of philological hair splitting around “agape”, “phileo”, etc. etc. etc.

Just for grins what is Mr. Carson’s take on the issue?

58   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 9th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Dr Vine?

Really?

59   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 9th, 2011 at 1:16 pm

It freed me from the notion I had to muster up fond affection for my “enemies” before I could truely love them.

This is precisely what I am not saying. How can you miss this? I am saying the exact opposite! That is, when you do these things for them (I’m wondering what enemies you could possibly have that would cause you such consternation), but when you do these things, consistently, because of Christ, empowered by the Spirit, you will inevitably begin to have affection for them.

Now I see the disconnect. You have missed that part where I have consistently said that what we are talking about might begin with some sort of duty but it must not stay there. It cannot stay there.

You don’t begin with affection. Affection grows the more you love. That is the point.

60   John Hughes    
January 9th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

You don’t begin with affection. Affection grows the more you love. That is the point.

OK. Uncle. That was certainly my point. I did not read that in to what you were saying, or perhaps it was the comment thread.

Side note. So Vine is not among the in-crowd any more?

61   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 9th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

You didn’t have to ‘read that in to what [I] wrote’–I said it flat out several times.

Vine?

Seriously?

:-)

62   nathan    
January 10th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Vine’s whole argument is grounded in the “root word fallacy”. (One of many exegetical fallacies he falls into.)

semantically, you can find the “other words” for love (in lexicons) used to simply mean “love” in ways that would make NO SENSE in light of the artificial “hair splitting” taxonomy.

Vine has been, and still is, robustly critiqued by even the most conservative of evangelical bible scholars.

I leave a copy of Vines in my water closet and occasionally tear out a page for back up when i’m stuck on the pot and there’s no TP left.

;)

juuuuuust kidding…

but seriously, toss the Vines.

63   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 10th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Nathan,

As usual, you are correct. I prefer doing the hard work of using BAGD or Word Biblical Commentary or some other resource where words are defined properly. I bought a copy of Vines a long while ago and used it, maybe, twice before scuttling it in favor of other more reliable lexical tools. Like http://www.dictionary.com.

:-)

64   nathan    
January 10th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

@Jerry,

we actually had to remove a lay person from teaching ministry in our church because he was aberrant and refused to take direction from the leadership.

one of the points of contention was his refusal to stop using Vines even after we told him it’s not a reliable source and it only serves to undermine his already unsound teaching.

65   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
January 11th, 2011 at 10:39 am

Nathan,

That’s scary.

jerry

66   John Hughes    
January 11th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know.

67   John Hughes    
January 11th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Can you direct me to some contra-vine articles. Nothing is popping up on Google. I’m just curious at this point because this is the first poo-poo party I have encountered on the man.