sexta-feira, julho 13, 2007

Perfect Love

The below was written for my life of holiness class, but I like it :)

Perfect love is probably one of my favorite descriptions of entire sanctification. New Testament writers (most specifically John) say that God is love, and if God is love, then any description that suggests imitating or being in His likeness is to imitate the love of God. Therefore, anything following is only to further demonstrate entire sanctification as the imitation and incarnation of the love of God. As is stated in Colossians 3:12-14;

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

Where problems arrive in the claims of entire sanctification are where people try to claim completeness. Entire sanctification is a commitment to a process. Many will go to someone in training for a profession for a basic knowledge of the professor. However, even if you were to go to a pediatrician to talk about what it meant to be a doctor, he could only give you the side of being a doctor that he has seen. In the same way, or definitions of love are often incomplete. What can I say about love that would adequately describe it? What do I know about love? Afterall, we as humans have no complete demonstration of the immensity of God's love. No, I would imagine we could not handle the immensity of it.

To love is to risk and many humans are uncomfortable with risk. Many of us are uncomfortable with our own selves, the evil we see in our character. Even to love God means that we have to risk that which he would have us do, because to love God, as it has ever been biblically expressed, is to do as He wills. What's more, to be entirely sanctified means that we would have to take a step towards loving those who we would not normally wish to love. It means opening one's self honestly to God and allowing Him to love through you. Entire sanctification means taking the risk to love even when that love could possibly hurt. Henri Nouwen describes loving someone as, "allowing the other person to respond in ways you have no control over. ...For the great mystery of love is that while it can be received, it can also be rejected. Every time you enter into the risk of love."

Scripture (as can be derived from Colossians) is filled with ways in which we can love each other. Parables such as that of the Prodigal Son describe the love of God and beg all to enter into his joy (flowing out of his love). 1 John 4:18-21 says;

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

This is the final important point about entire sanctification. The reason that holiness and love can be so intrinsically put together is because, in the famous words of John Wesley, there is no holiness but social holiness. If we were to look at others through the glasses of God, we would look at others only in love. We would look at those who wrong and reject us and begin to attempt to understand from whence they come. Does this person yell because she is mean or because she is, in fact, scared? Does he react in this harsh manner because he was born critical and nasty or because he has been hurt and does not want to be hurt again?

What separates me from those who are not entirely sanctified? How have I turned from the hurt and scarred barely human to see others and act out of love towards them? This is where I talk out of my own experience. Part of me has always been the scared and hurt reacting out of such emotions. You see, it is only when we understand ourselves that we can understand others, and the only way to understand ourselves is to see ourselves in relation to God.

In this, Henri Nouwen say, "we learn to look fully into our losses, not evade them. By greeting life's pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected. By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life-- even its sad moments-- in joy and hope." This is entire sanctification. Not that we are whole or even that we understand wholeness, but that we move into relationship with God with our whole selves, everything that we are, and ground our life in Him. It is by this that I see love in practice, because the grounds on which we stand or glasses through which we see effect our actions, and if we make the decision to walk with Christ, we make the decision to walk with love, in love, acting for love-- the love that is illustrated time and time again through the Bible. Without acting out of this love, we do not yet truly know or recognize God Himself.