Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Love

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to love someone? Even if you truly love someone else, they also need to allow you to love them, and in today's society, that's a hard sell. I think that is one of Satan's greatest weapons, the automatic distrust that the human race has for each other. In fact, the very first time Satan decided to start poking his nose where it didn't belong, we see see that He's trying to place that wedge not only between Adam and Eve, but also between man and God!

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

As an English major, I can't help but notice that Eve misquoted God. In Genesis 2:16,17, God says:
"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
So from what we have, at least recorded in the Bible, God hasn't said that Adam and Eve cannot touch the tree. Often, when we don't listen to what God, or each other, truly says, we get mad and angry at that other person.
Genesis 3:11-13
And he [God] said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So we see here that Satan was successful on three fronts. They both were scared of God, and distrusted his love for them, so they hid. Adam now distrusts Eve, and Eve distrusts Adam. God has to step in here and show Adam and Eve what “tough love” is, but the damage was already done. We became a people who distrust love from any source, even God.
And yet, God calls us to love His people, even those we consider to be our enemies. Because God loved us, and gave us the ultimate sacrifice through his Son, we need to answer that call. It's not hard, and often it's not fun, but if we can rise to that, if we can answer that call, imagine how much better our lives would be.
Look at Adam and Eve. Do you think Eve was mad at Adam when he blamed her? What if Adam had said,
God... I know I shouldn't have eaten the fruit off of that tree. You told me that directly, and I did it anyway. I accept full responsibility for my actions and for my wife's. She ate it too, but I did not stop her from doing so, even though I should have. I'm sorry.”
That would be love, and regret, and seeking forgiveness. What would Eve have done? Well, I don't know her personally, but I'm in a situation where someone shows me that kind of love, I'd have a very difficult time being mad at him, or continuing to victimize him. When someone tenses up for a fight, and another person just completely disarms that person, love prevails.
Love is the foundation of the Fruit of the Spirit. God loves us, we need to learn to accept that, and we need to allow that to radically change the way we love His people. Instead of judging people, persecuting people, disrespecting people... if we can substitute that with love, the Spirit then is free to move in us, and we're free to move in the Spirit.
And that opens the door to the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit... which will be continuing next week.
Continue to work on loving God and loving people. Feel free to share your stories and thoughts about this subject in the comments!