Normally I would be able to get an autorickshaw, but because this was monsoon time, this was proving difficult and any autos that there were were whizzing past me.
In the middle of this rainy scene, a slightly curious bloke appeared
Disturbed as he was by the less than usual sight of a white person,
Standing late at night,
Alone on the edge of the payment
In the middle of the monsoon.
He walked round me, like I were an exhibit in a museum
He walked round me one more time
And then in an effort to work out if I was human
Or in the way that an earthling might try and open conversation with alien
He tried on me on the one phrase in English it seemed that he remembered.
“I love you”
And it felt odd,
It felt that this guy was seeing some sort of potential in this encounter
That I was not.
Now the one problem was of course,
This guy was mistaken
But the early Christians
They saw a potential in their encounters, they saw that they could loved
Even when others did not.
Some words that I have quoted with you before, from Minutius Felix, and early opponent of the Christians who later became one himself.
The Christians, they form a rabble of profane conspiracy, they despise temples as if they were tombs, they despise the titles and the purple robe of the high government office, though they are hardly able to cloth themselves in their own nakedness. Just like a rank growth of weeds the abominable haunts where this impious confederacy meet are multiplying all over the world. Root and branch like a weed, it should be exterminated. Because they love one another before they even know one another, they practise a cult of lust calling one another brother and sister indiscriminately. Minutius – Felix.
Ruining The Moment
Let me give you another example of the jarring-ness of love
That jars like that man on that street corner in Trivandrum telling me that he loved me.
It is the moment in a wedding when everything is happy and smiles.
People are very precious around weddings
Nothing can be allowed to ruin the big day
The bouquets have to be right
The dress has to be perfect
The hymns beautiful
The bridesmaids walk in at the right moment
What are you so frightened of
What terrifies you that will happen if a bridesmaid comes in at the wrong moment
What is interesting is that the ancient order of service is unafraid to ruin the wedding
It says, “Let’s go to the moment when one of you is sick
Let’s go to the moment when one of you has had enough of the other
Let’s go to the day, when you look back on this day and say ‘What was I thinking?’
And we can do that, because the love that you celebrate this day
Is strong enough to get you through that day.
I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.
You can see the horror on the one who has worried about the choice of dessert wine, and the order of the bridesmaids and the speeches.
Let’s talk about the day that we die.
Let’s talk about that day.
Real love jars, is deliberately different,
Because so much of the world is not set towards love
And so love has to jar with those parts of the world.
The Kind Of Love
The kind of love that the Christians talked about
Could cope with that moment.
Let’s look at Paul’s early definition of love.
So what we are going to do is look at verses 4-6
Verse 4 – Love is patient, love is kind
Verses 5-6 – 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.
And then verse 7 which is better
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endure all things”
Love is Patient
Current definitions of love make it sound easy, it is something close to a drug
She loves me – yeah, yeah, yeah- the cry of ecstasy
Love me tender –
All you need is love
Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help following in love with you
It wasn’t complicate
It wasn’t premeditated
I’m so glad you stated
Let’s go ahead and say it
“I love you”
But Paul goes for this definition
“love is patient”
And something is very telling there.
Love does not force,
Love is patient
Love is not in a rush – in a rush for what
Love is patient
Love has a confidence that what is now, will not what is always to be
Love is patient
How can love afford to be patient?
Something that is not now
Love must first of all be patient
Love waits for something that is not now.
And it believes that God is at work
You cannot believe in love being patient if you do not also believe that God is at work
Love has a vision of what is now, being something more.
And it is prepared to wait.
Love is not about some feeling of gushing ecstasy
Love is about a vision of what each of us might be
Love is always intended on the growth of the other.
There are forms of love that suffocate.
Love that always wants the child to remain a child
Love that wants the other to worship
Love that wants the other to give me my place
These are false loves
Love is patient because it has a vision
Think of the people that you love
What vision do you have for them
How might they grow
Not grow because they are wealthy
Not grow because they are successful
But grow because they are thoroughly good
There is nothing greater in all the universe, says Dallas Willard
Than a good person.
Love has that vision.
Love Is King
Love gives the other what they need
Not always the same as nothing, not always the same as everything
Love is kind
Christians, this is possibly what we do the best
The old emperor Julian, who hate Christians, used to say “not only do they look after their own poor, but they look after ours as well”
I was speaking to a guy last week who said that the reason he belongs to the Church that he is in now is because when his wife was ill during pregnancy, the Church cooked meals for them every day for six weeks
Or the kind of kindness that lets go
I was with recently a couple called Sandra and Connor Mulholland from Belfast
Who are responsible with others for a project called the Bridge, which existed in East Belfast for the training, help of the community
And their came a day, when they said that this cannot be run by middle class professionals from South Belfast, it must be handed over
And so they gave the ownership and the running of the Bridge over to people in the local community.
Kindness always involves two kinds of work
The work of thinking about the other
The work of talking with the other
The work of doing something for the other.
So that is two things that Love is
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love Clears A Lot Of Things Away
Love, if want to truly love another human being
Funnily means doing a lot of work on myself.
Of beginning to give to God the things that stop me loving.
Love does not envy – so that is your envy of the other doing well
Love does not boast – that thing where you want to get noticed
Does not insist on its own way – that’s not say love is weak, but love is not selfish
Is not irritable – that thing we have where those around us get our frustrations, even frustrations that are not their fault. How do we stop being irritable
What are the causes of irritableness, can they be removed
Is not resentful- that learns to take away the blames
It does not keep a record of wrongs
It genuinely forgives.
Real forgiveness is not instant, it is a path that you set yourself on
But a determination that I am not going to hold this thing against you.
Love And All Things
Love then has a relationship with “all things”
I am struggling to see what that means
Love hopes all things – love does not hope for your to do badly in your exams, it does not hope for you to come round to my way of thinking, it does not hope that you are humiliated for having rejected me.
Love sees all things, and touches them with hope
So that everything that is , you hope that it is fulfilled, never give up on what they might be in fullness, that they might be what they were made for
Hopes all things
Faiths all things
And then there are the kind of things that hit you
These you bear
These you endure
That is love
I am actually encouraged
Because if you are in a place where everything is unrealised and you have to hope
If you are in a place where everything is on top of you
That is the place where you can love
Love is in the exhaustion of a married couple where one of them has dementia
Or where people fight for justice for someone who is unjustly accused
Or where a child cannot get through the night without waking up all the time
Or where a partner has to try and forgive the hurt of another’s unfaithfulness
Or where someone believes in the other, even though their own confidence
Or their own self has been shattered by depression
It often is between family members
It is often between neighbours
And it must always, always, be in this family
And it doesn’t sound too great does it
I want the old drug love
The old kind of love that made you go on a high.
That love never gets you to the best places
It takes you to a place and then snatches it away and it is never the same again
That is not love.
I had an incident last week taking a child to school
And it was the usual thing of fighting to get socks on
Fighting to get out the door
Fighting to get to school on time
And then you put that child on the line
And you look at that child
That child that three minutes ago was the cause of the greatest pain ever
And you want that child to be safe
And you want that child to be happy
And you want it to be that in future, me and that child will be together
And you are prepared to bear anything to get that for that child
And love is like that moment of seeing
That hopes, endures, believes, faiths
And that is love
And the Christians said
That love is not just for my child
It’s for random strangers
To the unknown and the awkward and the worrying
“I love you too.”
None. Good New Translation – Second Edition (electronic ed.) . ,: :