Monday, January 11, 2016
the intolerable compliment
Today we read the January 11 excerpt, where Lewis talks about love vs kindness. And he makes some good points. But the idea of the intolerable compliment of His love is what grabbed me.
I'm sure you know what he means. I've paid the intolerable compliment to a few girls in my time, and they didn't tolerate it. I've been paid the intolerable compliment, and I've had to find creative ways of letting her down easy. And God pays US, each of us, the intolerable compliment of being head over heels in love with us.
In most cases, it's sad to realize, the love God has for people is unrequited. And it's never returned in full. Even someone like Therese of Liseux, who loved God so much it permeated her whole life... even she didn't love God as much as He loved her.
So what do we do with this love? Well, we try to return it. We learn, every day, to return that love better. If you're familiar with the love languages, you know that one thing that's important in loving someone is learning how they experience love. If giving gifts is MY love language, but quality time is my wife's love language, then I'm making a huge mistake if I'm spending all of my time making money to buy her gifts. What she WANTS, and what she needs, is for me to spend time with her. That's how she receives love.
Well, what are God's love languages? How can we express love for Him? There are more than I can talk about in one blog. But I can bring up a few to get us started. One is mentioned above: time. He wants to spend time with you. He wants you to pray, and be in His presence, and more than anything just BE with Him. He has things to tell you, but the focus isn't as much the things as it is just being with you.
Another is taking care of other people. This is one of the biggest ways we can love God. He tells us over and over in the New Testament that we show our love for God my loving our brother. In the "love language" way of speaking, this is called acts of service. And He wants those acts of service done for His kids.
The other three love languages are touch, words, and gifts. And while He does want to hear our words of thanksgiving and praise, and while He does want us to give of our riches to our local church and to the poor, these are not as important as spending quality time with Him or acts of service for His children.
One final word: He also wants you to enjoy your life. That might surprise you. There are some pockets of Christianity where they make enjoying life seem like a bad thing. I've read of some people trying to be holy who refused to look at beautiful things, thinking that depriving themselves of beauty would please God. Some people refuse to eat delicious food or have fun with friends or enjoy sex with their spouse because they think this is somehow not "holy".
But God MADE those things for us to enjoy. He gave us our senses, and then filled the world with amazing things to sense. He wants us to enjoy our lives. So we must find the balance between helping others and enjoying our lives (which are not, of course, mutually exclusive). If you feel that you're spending too much time "having fun", like skiing or taking expensive trips, then maybe dial it back a little and help people more. If you're helping people ALOT, and you start to feel drained... you might need to spend more time having some fun. Finding that balance requires wisdom. And God said if we ask for wisdom, He'll give it to us. Just ask!
God, thanks for giving us so much love that we have to figure out how to love You back.