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