Thursday, January 5, 2017

More Like Love in 2017

I'm re-reading Herman Melville's classic work, "Moby Dick," for the first time in almost 30 years. I was pierced in the early pages as Melville paints a verbal portrait of the story of Jonah - telling how the son of Amittai set out in "willful disobedience to the command of God"  ... because he didn't like the command of God!

God's command was for Jonah to go and preach the gospel of redeeming grace to his enemies - to warn them of the impending danger that hearkened at their heels - in order that they might be saved from it.

Boiled down to the barest bones it was a command for Jonah to go and love his enemies as much as he loved himself. But, the command to love those he loathed was distasteful to Jonah (as it is to us) - so distasteful that he set out to sea in the absolute opposite direction of obedience.

Jonah willfully disobeyed the command of God because it conflicted with his own personal likes and lusts. God's commands often do ... because by nature we're pretty stinkin' selfish (I know I am!). If honest, we're often selfish even in our acts of supposed selfless service - we do them because they make us feel good inside or because (theological horror of horrors) we might errantly think they could possibly produce some kind of "cosmic karma" that will boomerang back around to our own benefit one day. (That's another post for another time!)

You know, what God (through His Word) tells me to do in truly loving YOU often gets in the way of what I want to do in supposedly "loving" ME! 

All of those "one another" commands:
  • be at peace with one another
  • love one another
  • give preference to one another
  • build up one another
  • accept one another
  • admonish one another
  • serve one another
  • speak truth to one another
  • be kind to one another
  • forgive one another as Christ has forgiven you
  • bear with one another...
...those things don't come easily, take extreme effort, and mean that I have to lay myself aside! 

That's hard!

Mr. Melville writes:

 "All the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do 
- remember that - and hence, 
He more often commands us than seeks to persuade us. 
If we would obey God, we must disobey ourselves; 
and it is in this disobeying of ourselves, 
wherein the hardness of actually obeying God consists."

This year, by Christ's grace and the Holy Spirit's power, I'm asking God to help me do this hard thing.  I'm asking Him to help me slay the "white whale" of selfishness that resides in my soul - or at least to get a harpoon plunged deeply into its heart that I might begin to love Him and others - even "enemy" others - a little bit more like He has has loved me. 

In the process I'm praying that I might begin to see the "hardway" of obeying God as the one true sanctifying highway to becoming who He has called me to be.  

This year I want to begin to look a little more like love ... true love ... Biblical love ... God's (often hard) definition of love. (Not the world's counterfeit copy.)

I want to learn to love Him with all of my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.

In my actions towards others I want to be: 
  • patient, 
  • kind, 
  • not jealous, 
  • not boastful or proud, 
  • not behaving in an unbecoming way, 
  • not seeking my own way, 
  • not keeping a record of wrongs, 
  • not rejoicing in unrighteousness but rejoicing in Truth
  • I want to strive to bear all things, 
  • believe all things, 
  • hope all things, 
  • endure all things, 
  • and not fail in the things of this hard task of holy love (1 Corinthians 13).

But the truth is - I'm gonna fail. (Doggone it, I already have failed - at least in thought ... OK in word and deed as well ... since I started typing this text!!) 

Thankfully Jesus never fails. He has lived the perfect life of perfect love that I am incapable of. That's why He came - to do for us what we couldn't do for ourselves in His life, death, and resurrection.  

Christ has loved me with an everlasting love, and in Him alone will I find sufficient strength to love ... really love... others in the same way.  

May 2017 find all of us looking a little more like our Savior's love - because we're leaning more on the Savior's love!

By grace,

PS - This song by Ben Rector has been on my daughter's play list for weeks.  I'm kinda diggin' her taste in tunes.


  1. "May 2017 find us looking more like our Savior's love because we're leaning more on our Savior's love." This is an excellent challenge. Thanks Lori!

  2. Lori - I really needed to read this. Now I really need to do it! With you, I'm thankful for Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith!