Artificial Light and Love

English: Chancel of St Leonard's church The ch...

English: Chancel of St Leonard’s church The chancel, viewed from the south gallery in artificial light. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Artificial Light and Love

It can be very difficult to discern the True Light of God from the artificial light of this world. The latter can be very seductive. When we come to believe that our prosperity or our successes are what bring happiness and joy to our lives we are living by artificial light. This light is one to which we are so accustomed that we often fail to notice the true lack of radiance.

Times of darkness and distress can be very instructive. During such times, when no light can been seen, nor any kind voice or word penetrate, we learn to recognize the sound of His voice and the light of His presence. Times of difficulty can help us to recognize the hand of God. They teach us how to distinguish real from artificial light. We, in essence, learn how to distinguish that which is true from that which is false.

Love likewise can be “real” or” artificial”. The Bible refers to real love, God like, all encompassing love as “Agape” love, and the infinitely inferior form of human love as “Phileo” love. Agape love is unconditional. Phileo love almost always comes with strings and demands attached. Something is expected in return. Manipulation is sometimes involved. All love therefore between human beings is fragile and easily destroyed. And perhaps, accordingly, should not be held too tightly but rather with an open hand……

Unfortunately, much of what passes for community, fellowship and love within churches is Phileo and not Agape love. It has as its source, the hearts and minds of men. This is how factions within a church develop. Social position and acceptance are offered in exchange for support for one group or another’s position on various issues. Alliances are made. People are bought off by artificial light and love. In such a setting anyone with a true heart for the will of God finds that his or her voice falls on deaf ears. And God, in response, shakes the dust off His feet and moves on leaving behind a community bereft of His light and presence. Such a church ceases to be a part of His body. And as such, a long, slow death spiral ensues. New programs are tried. New worship services are begun. Many hand wringing meetings are held. All to no avail. The real Light has left, and all that remains is the artificial light of the world.

There is no cure for such a situation other than a season of darkness. The artificial light source must be removed, and the voices and applause of men silenced. All temptation to speak and fill in the void with the sound of our own voices is destructive and must be avoided. It is only in absolute silence and darkness is there any hope that the hearts of men will change. It is only there that we can ever learn to hear and recognize His voice. It is a voice that will ask us to love those whom we feel no affection for. It is a voice which will ask us to reach out our hand to the enemy. It is a voice which will urge us to set aside the ego for the greater good. It is the true voice and the true light of God. If our ears can finally hear, and our hearts be finally opened, the weak human form of Phileo love will ultimately be replaced with self sacrificing Agape love. And it is this love- the love of the Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, that will ultimately save The Church and heal the world. Amen

Puzzle Pieces

An icon from icon theme Crystal Clear. Русский...

An icon from icon theme Crystal Clear. Русский: Иконка из темы Crystal Clear. Česky: Ikonka z ikonkové sady Crystal Clear. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles are made up of many different pieces. Often we can’t see where they all fit together right away. Our relationships and interactions with people are very similar. Sometimes it is clear to us that a certain person crossed our path or a certain event occurred for a specific reason. The puzzle pieces seem to fit together and make sense. At other times, we see no purpose in an interaction we have had with someone and are eager to discard that piece of the puzzle. We deem it useless.

I have often thought that this is a dangerous practice because what we fail to realize is that God is often giving us pieces to more than one puzzle. Now this may seem confusing and difficult to us, but we are not capable of seeing what is in the heart or mind of God. He has a picture of the many puzzles of our lives that we can’t begin to fathom. He works in ways we cannot begin to comprehend. We have often times not grown to the point where we can see the importance of the various pieces of the puzzles which make up our lives. So instead of discarding puzzle pieces that we cannot make sense of, we must trust that many of the pieces we are being given do, in fact, belong in our puzzles. It is just that we cannot fit them into the puzzle yet in ways that we understand. So we must trust that He is a work on the puzzle in ways unknown and be careful with all of our puzzle pieces.

This often becomes clear to me as I write. Many of the things that I reflect on seem to fit together, but others seem to have no place in my current understanding. What I have come to understand is that I must preserve the thoughts as they come to me, realizing that as they come, they form part of a picture that I may not yet be able to see. Perhaps this is because I have not matured to the place of being able to understand them yet. Perhaps it is just not the right time for me to see the picture yet. Perhaps it will all become clear at a later time. Or perhaps, it is not me who is to see and understand it at all.

The Word of God is much like this. We often receive pieces of it over time. Sometimes the words make perfect sense. Sometimes we find them confusing and have trouble putting them together to form a picture of God that we can readily understand. What we must realize is that it may be later in our journey that things will begin to come together in a way that we can “see”. And in contrast- there are some things that we may never be able to see and understand at all because God chooses to reveal certain things to some, and other things to others for reasons we cannot possibly comprehend. This is part of the mystery of God. But because He knows us, and understands us, and holds all the pieces to our puzzles, He will provide all that each of us needs exactly when we need it, in His perfect time. Amen.