Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Henri Nouwen on Unconditional Love

Henri Nouwen has been stimulating my brain juices recently. Here's a quote to bat around & hold onto...

“We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.

God’s unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.” - Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Love Actually

Admist the chocolate, roses or admiration greatly desired or welcomely received on this Valentine's Day, I'd like to encourage you to reflect on a deeper love. A love given as the perfect gift which rather than distracting from other gifts of love (Valentine or otherwise) gives value, meaning & perspective to them. This is of course God's love which John writes quite eloquently about in 1 John Ch.3...

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" v1

A love far from stingy, but poured out upon us with an extravagance that we only dare to imagine. It's in this love that we find our true identity & our deepest value. If you've lost this recently, stop here & take a good, slow chew over its meaning.

"This is how we know what love is..." Chocolates, flowers, encouraging notes, sex, a ring of commitment? All potentially good, but no "... Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." v16

We were dead. Spiritually dead inside. Lifeless & without hope.

But in Jesus' sacrifice He exchanged His life for ours and opened the way to receive the greatest love gift... life, to the full.

And as we embrace this life what will it look like? John helps us out again, amongst other things our response should look like this... "And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers & sisters... let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions & in truth." v16,18

So receive love where you can today. Savour & enjoy it.

Then give it away where you can. Pass it on.

Love your spouse or partner or girlfriend/boyfriend. But also love others you encounter - your parents, your siblings, your friends, your boss, the poor, the marginalised, the bullied, the elderly, the forgotten, foreigners, strangers, even your enemies.

And love not just with your words, but with your actions & leading people into what is true. For this is love actually.