Category Archives: Relationships

Uncle John Love

This definition of love is inherent in the Greek word stroge. This Greek word is not in the New Testament. In Greek society it was a word that was commonly used to express family relationships. Reference here is to a legal love. Uncle John is a relative, and thus, we must love him because he is a blood relative.   And besides this, Uncle John gives out candy when he is around. We deeply cherish Uncle John, but our affection for Uncle John can be tested if he hangs around too much.

“Uncle John” love is as a trained nurse who is dedicated to a sick child in the hospital. She will give the child loving attention and care while she is on duty. But when she comes to the end of the day, she goes home to her own family. However, if one of her own children would become sick, then she would never leave her child.

Sometimes in marriage, the initial love of a couple digresses into a stroge love for one another. It is love out of duty. The husband brings home the money, and the wife cooks the food.   Everyone is doing their duty, but the deep loving affection for one another has long passed away. Marriage becomes a duty to perform, not a daily celebration of two people happily growing old together.

Christians sometimes manifest a stroge love in reference to their Christianity. It becomes only a duty to be with the saints. It becomes duty to study one’s Bible, which duty is often neglected. We have an affection for our brothers and sisters, but we can take only so much of their company. It is sometimes as one brother said, “One can get too much of his brothers.” The one who would make this statement has not yet grown in the love by which Jesus said His disciples would be identified before the world (Jn 13:34,35). He has not yet learned to love the brotherhood of disciples (1 Pt 2:17).

We can always know when one is about to give up on Christ. All that he does for Christ has become a wearisome habit of duty, rather than total commitment to Jesus. It was for this reason that John wrote, “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn 5:3). When the worship of one becomes empty, then he is about to empty his seat in the assembly of the saints.

[Next lecture: August 27]

Chocolate Cake Love

Most people have a passion for chocolate cake.   Unfortunately, many of us can obsess over chocolate cake to the point of sitting down before a large chocolate cake and eating until we are sick. The obsessed eater reaches the point were he or she gags to take just one more bite of chocolate cake. Once the lust for chocolate cake is satisfied, the eating is over. Our passion for chocolate is satisfied, and with a sickened stomach, we move on.

The ancient Greek word eros would be used to define our passion for chocolate cake. The English word “erotic” comes from this word. This is erotic passion that once satisfied, moves on until the next time when a craving arises. The Greek word eros is never used in the Bible.

In ancient times, the word eros was used often in reference to erotic sexual activity. It is the passion that is experienced for a moment, but then is satisfied. When the satisfaction is realized, the “lover” then goes on his or her way.

Eroticism is passion without commitment. In a marital relationship that is exclusively based on passion, one is focused more on one’s self than his or her partner.   The use of the word eros in a marital context would explain that there are some dysfunctions in the marriage.   Eros would be applied to the individual who has had a moment of sexual satisfaction, but then moves on to the appointments of the day. This would be a relationship that grows dim over time as the passion of the sexual experience fades from the marriage. Therefore, after the honeymoon is over, it is then the time to determine if the married partners truly love one another.

Some people grow tired of being married because the passion of the sexual experience of the marriage has faded away. In such cases, the couple may have been married only on the basis of a passionate sexual relationship. But when the passion of the sexual relationship has faded, then they fade from one another as partners. Their sexual eros was a weak foundation upon which their marriage relationship was initially established.

In the sexual activity of a world that lives in fornication, eros would define the sexual relationship between many men and women. This is erotic sex without any commitments. Sexual encounters without any commitments defines a hedonistic society in which individuals seek relationships only for the purpose of satisfying their sexual impulses.

In a marriage relationship, two individuals have taken the first step in honoring a commitment to one another. Newly married couples must focus on their commitment to grow together for life, enjoying the sexual relationship as God’s blessing for the expression of love within the marriage. Jesus’ parable in reference to receiving the word of God illustrates too many young marriages. In the parable, Jesus identified those who initially were excited about receiving the word of God, but did not have a deep commitment to continue in their relationship with God.

But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. However, he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away (Mt 13:20,21).

This sounds like some marriages. Some people immediately receive the word (get married), but immediately fall away from the word when times get tough (when disagreements come). Those in the parable fell away from their relationship with Jesus because their passion for the Lord had no depth. It was shallow. It was initially based on excitement, but the excitement eventually passed away when hard times came.

In his youth, John Mark may have had this initial burst of passion for the Lord. He sailed with Paul and Barnabas on their first mission journey.   Unfortunately, the exciting passion that Mark initially experienced for the Lord was not strong enough to take him through all the trials of the journey for which he volunteered (1 Jn 4:18).   He eventually turned back from the journey (At 15:38).

Fortunately, there is a happy ending to Mark’s story.   His initial passion eventually grew into a committed love that sustained his relationship with the Lord until the end of his life. Many years later, and while Paul was in prison in Rome, he called on Timothy to “get Mark and bring him …, for he is profitable to me for the ministry (2 Tm 4:11).

Mark’s life illustrates the initial commitment of many young people to one another when they are first married. Marriage begins with love and erotic excitement, but then come the trials of stony places. Nevertheless, if a couple hangs tight, the initial eros (passion) of the relationship will eventually grow into a lifetime relational love that will deliver great rewards in old age. “Chocolate cake” passion alone for one another will not take a married couple to the rewards of marriage in old age. However, when the passion of two young people eventually morphs into sacrificial love, then the couple is on their way to holding one another’s hand into an inexpressible love commitment until they part in death.

Passion will initially connect two people in marriage, but it takes sacrificial love to keep them connected until death do them part.

[Next lecture: August 26]

 

 

Starting With Basics

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).

The suicide bomber who straps on a bomb and blows up innocent people does not know the God of the Bible. The thief who breaks into and steals that which belongs to his neighbor does not love his neighbor as himself. Life today seems to be the definition of a loveless existence, and thus, the identity of a world gone wrong in human relationships.   Nevertheless, our personal lives need not be patterned after the loveless character of a world controlled by Satan. We can be different. We can be so different that we can preserve ourselves through Jesus past this world. We can do this, however, only if we can discover the God of love who offered His Son as a love offering in order to bring us into eternal dwelling in His loving presence. For this reason, therefore, we long to discover this God and how we are to love Him and our fellow man.

Society in general has long forgotten the admonition of the true and living God of love:

You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind …. You will love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37-39).

Society in general does not get better. Satan does his work well, and thus, society always spirals down morally. When God made the pronouncement of Noah’s generation that every imagination of the mind of man was only evil continually (Gn 6:5), He was, in a negative/positive sense, defining the nature of those who would reveal themselves as His children by their love for one another and Him. An unloving world provides the opportunity for God’s children, through their love, not to be identified with a morally degenerate world. Jesus explained:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.   By this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn 13:34,35).

Jesus’ statement forces us to be positive in a world that always goes morally wrong. If all the world were loving, then there would be no possibility to define who the disciples of Jesus really are, neither would we have any visual evidence of the nature of the God of love. But the fact that the world is burdened with unloving people provides the opportunity for Christians to be identified as the people of God because of their love for one another. They have the opportunity to reveal the one true and living God by the loving nature of their lives that are patterned after the loving character of God.

Jesus’ statement in John 13:34,35 assumed that Christians throughout their lives would dwell in unloving social environments, and thus, have the opportunity to reveal the love of God. The loving Christian, therefore, is taking advantage of his unloving environment in order to manifest the love of God in his or her heart, and thus, reveal the true God of love in heaven. The Bible statement is thus emphatically true: “HE WHO DOES NOT LOVE DOES NOT KNOW GOD, FOR GOD IS LOVE(1 Jn 4:8).   Those who perform wickedness toward their fellow man are atheistic in reference to the loving God that is revealed in the Bible. They are behaving wickedly according to a god they have created after their own wickedness.

If we manifest love for God and our neighbors, then it is by this love that we will be identified to be the children of the true God of love. We are sure that this thought was in the mind of Peter when he wrote:

But sanctify Christ as Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear (1 Pt 3:15).

The love of a Christian should spark inquiry in the minds of the loveless in order that they ask for a reason concerning the hope of the Christian. A loveless society provides many opportunities to reveal the God of love.

There are actually four words in the Greek dictionary that are commonly translated in English literature with the English word “love.” Each Greek word reveals something unique about the relationship that the Greeks had with one another in their society. However, in the New Testament only two of these Greek words are used. In order to enlighten our New Testament definition of the love by which God is revealed and Christians identified, we will begin with the two Greek words that are not used in the New Testament, but were used in Greek society. All four words will give us some idea of the emotional relationship that existed between people of the first century. The last two words will help us understand better the relationship that the disciples of Christ should have toward one another and the God of love.

(In the next four lectures, we will define and apply each of the four Greek words.)

[Next lecture: August 25]

 

Building Eternal Relationships

In a 1960s newsletter of the Foundation For Human Betterment, it was stated:

 

“During the past forty years medicine has made tremendous progress. We have almost eliminated the bacterial diseases, such as typhoid fever, bubonic plague, and many others which in the past have wiped out huge segments of mankind.   However, we have made very little progress in the so-called psychosomatic diseases, and by that we mean diseases that are caused by or are greatly influenced by wrong mental and emotional attitudes. We now know that the giant destructive emotions of hate, envy, jealousy, fear and guilt produce diseases just as certainly as do bacteria or poisons ….   To put it bluntly, when a man harbors these destructive emotions he is slowly but surely committing suicide ….   We know that the only way to get rid of these destructive emotions is to replace them with LOVE.”

 

We live in a world that is plagued with diseased minds that destroy every social structure that is the foundation of humanity. In some places of our present world, the Holy Spirit could write the following concerning the social behavior of society: “God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gn 6:5). We seek to encourage those who live in this world—which is all of us—in order that we better cope with the evil of the world by following the advice of our God.   Only in following the advice of our Creator will we be able to take ownership of a victorious life. When we follow Him, we wake up every day and thank Him that we made it this far. We continually remind ourselves of God’s directives that make us victorious in any hostile environment that at times seems so contrary to righteousness.   Many societies of the world have gone wrong. But this does not mean that we must go wrong with the evil of our environment. As Christians, we are reminded by the evil of this world that this world is not our final home. We view the moral negatives of this world, therefore, as positives to keep our minds focused on that which is not of this world. Our teleology constrains us to focus on heaven. And on focusing on that which is good, we can be that small portion of salt that can preserve those around us.

[Lectures start August 24.]