1. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 00:111 edit
    "Now, why is it that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because God is love (1 John 4:8).

    "And what does that mean?

    "It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating Himself. God has no selfishness; God keeps nothing to Himself. God's nature is to be always giving. You see it, in the sun and the moon and the stars, in every flower, in every bird in the air, in every fish in the sea. God communicates life to His creatures. And the angels around His throne, the seraphim and cherumbim who are flames of fire--where does their glory come from? It comes from God because He is love, and He imparts to them part of His brightness and His blessedness. And we, His redeemed children--God delights to pour His love into us. Why? Because, as I said, God keeps nothing for Himself. From eternity God had His only begotten Son, and the Father gave Him all things, and nothing that God had was kept back. "God is Love.""

    --Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender
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    25 Jun '07 00:32
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    "Now, why is it that the fruit of the Spirit is love? Because God is love (1 John 4:8).

    "And what does that mean?

    "It is the very nature and being of God to delight in communicating Himself. God has no selfishness; God keeps nothing to Himself. God's nature is to be always giving. You see it, in the sun and the moon and the sta ...[text shortened]... od had was kept back. "God is Love.""

    --Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender
    "Love" is one of those words that seems to have so many meanings that it's almost useless. In the context of "God is love", how would you define it?
  3. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 00:42
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    "Love" is one of those words that seems to have so many meanings that it's almost useless. In the context of "God is love", how would you define it?
    In the context of "God is love", I'd define love the way Andrew Murray just described it: perfectly selfless and always giving, holding nothing back.
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    25 Jun '07 01:00
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    In the context of "God is love", I'd define love the way Andrew Murray just described it: perfectly selfless and always giving, holding nothing back.
    Seems like there must be more to it than that. As an extreme example, giving a drug addict what he wants doesn't seem to be the loving thing to do. So there must be some bounds on what is or is not to be given. Also I'm not sure about being "perfectly selfless". It seems like love should require one to take care of oneself to some extent.
  5. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 01:24
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    Seems like there must be more to it than that. As an extreme example, giving a drug addict what he wants doesn't seem to be the loving thing to do. So there must be some bounds on what is or is not to be given. Also I'm not sure about being "perfectly selfless". It seems like love should require one to take care of oneself to some extent.
    Yes, but we are talking about God's love, aren't we? His nature is perfectly selfless, not ours. However, Murray's point is, that God is able to impart his love--his Spirit--to us as we progressively surrender to him. What an amazing thing it is to learn that God is love! That he gives all of himself to us, holding nothing back. God's divine conspiracy to overcome evil with good. Brilliant.
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    25 Jun '07 01:441 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Yes, but we are talking about God's love, aren't we? His nature is perfectly selfless, not ours. However, Murray's point is, that God is able to impart his love--his Spirit--to us as we progressively surrender to him. What an amazing thing it is to learn that God is love! That he gives all of himself to us, holding nothing back. God's divine conspiracy to overcome evil with good. Brilliant.
    I guess I was thinking along the lines that God's love is something that we could relate to as humans. Are you saying that it's undefinable in human terms? If humans are to love one another, what does that mean?
  7. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 01:57
    Originally posted by ThinkOfOne
    I guess I was thinking along the lines that God's love is something that we could relate to as humans. Are you saying that it's undefinable in human terms? If humans are to love one another, what does that mean?
    Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Definitely God's love is not human love; that is, it is unconditional. However, humans can receive God's love and be filled with the Spirit of Love (the Holy Spirit), and through surrender to God can love others as God loves others. Which means a sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of another... Otherwise, human love is naturally quite selfish.
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    25 Jun '07 02:221 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Definitely God's love is not human love; that is, it is unconditional. However, humans can receive God's love and be filled with the Spirit of Love (the Holy Spirit), and through surrender to God can love others as God loves others. Which means a sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of another... Otherwise, human love is naturally quite selfish.
    Yes, what humans commonly call "love" is very selfish, so it makes me wonder what humans are to give to each other. God is love. God is truth. So perhaps love is truth. That "love" is truth-in-action. "Truth" as in the "ultimate reality". This goes beyond honesty, it also speaks to the proper way to live and be in this world and with each other. That we are to help each other live properly by being honest with each other, by caring for each other, by seeking justice, by helping each other overcome one's sinful nature, etc. As part of this I think we also need to be honest with ourselves, care for ourselves, etc. We are to give this unconditionally.
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    25 Jun '07 02:43
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Definitely God's love is not human love; that is, it is unconditional. However, humans can receive God's love and be filled with the Spirit of Love (the Holy Spirit), and through surrender to God can love others as God loves others. Which means a sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of another... Otherwise, human love is naturally quite selfish.
    You and I may have totally different conceptions about love—at least a love that is something more than either (a) desire for something (e.g., relationship) exclusively for one’s own benefit, without regard to other beyond their ability to fulfill that desire, on the one hand; or (b) some kind of disinterested “charity” or “doing good” for other, on the other hand.

    I tend to define love as (1) a passionate caring and concern for the other—and not simply for one’s idea of the other. That is, I have certain ideas about my wife based on our history: do I today love my wife, as she may be today, or do I simply love the idea I have formed of her (which may, up till now, been quite accurate)? Do I love her actual, unfolding person—or the more or less static persona that I have pictured in my head?

    That’s one facet. Intimacy is another. One could, I suppose, love in the sense of (1) without either desiring or being willing to risk immersion of the self in a full intimacy. I will state this second aspect of love as: (2) willingness to immerse oneself in the kind of intimacy in which the boundaries of the “I” collapse into a “We,” in which it is difficult to discern where the individual boundaries are.

    This “We” is a near-mystical affair, which I have difficulty articulating.

    If the willingness to enter into that kind of intimacy is what you mean by “self-sacrifice,” I can see that. But it is a sacrifice that has the flavor of oneself “expanding” into the “We”—of becoming more that simply “I.”

    So, I would define intimate love as being (1) a passionate caring and concern for the other, with (2) a willingness to risk immersion of oneself in a full intimacy with the other, in which a “We” is formed.

    The first without the second is still love, but a love that is conditional in terms of being unwilling (or unable) to risk intimate communion. The second without the first carries the danger of becoming a kind of addictive and self- (or mutually) destructive intimacy (think co-dependency), or one where either or both persons desire to possess the other in the intimate embrace.
  10. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 08:14
    Originally posted by vistesd
    You and I may have totally different conceptions about love—at least a love that is something more than either (a) desire for something (e.g., relationship) exclusively for one’s own benefit, without regard to other beyond their ability to fulfill that desire, on the one hand; or (b) some kind of disinterested “charity” or “doing good” for other, on the othe ...[text shortened]... dency), or one where either or both persons desire to possess the other in the intimate embrace.
    I'm a bit uncomfortable with the collapsing of boundaries. To me respecting one another's boundaries is essential to true intimacy. That is not to say a profound spiritual communion cannot take place between two people, I just question whether a collapsing of boundaries is necessary, or even desirable, to that end.

    What creeps me out about it is that the "I" is never really lost in the "We", the "I" merely, as you say, expands. The "We" in this case then simply connotes an expanded "I". This cannot be comparable to the self-sacrificing love of Christ for 'unlovable' men and women, since God's love means the actual death of the "I" for another; not an expansion of the I, but its termination. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The freedom and spirit of life of one willing to lay down his or her life for another is what the Christian life should ideally be.

    I also disagree with the assessment that charity (God's perfectly selfless giving of himself) is 'disinterested' in any way. Because Jesus died for all people I don't believe meant he did so in a disinterested way; I believe every aspect of his being was consummately interested. No doubt he knows every one of us intimately and had a furiously passionate interest in procuring our salvation.
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    25 Jun '07 09:291 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    I'm a bit uncomfortable with the collapsing of boundaries. To me respecting one another's boundaries is essential to true intimacy. That is not to say a profound spiritual communion cannot take place between two people, I just question whether a collapsing of boundaries is necessary, or even desirable, to that end.

    What creeps me out about it is tha ately and had a furiously passionate interest in procuring our salvation.
    First, there was a typo in my post: instead of “becoming more that simply “I”, it should read “becoming more than simply “I.” Sorry for any confusion.

    By boundaries of the “I”, I mean ego boundaries.

    The ego boundaries only collapse in an intimacy of love and mutual consent—or should anyway; you are right about the respect. The analogy is in the fullness of orgasm when making love: the “I” momentarily “disappears” because all of the thought that sustains and defines that “I” stops.

    Two spiritual analogies that I see (within the Christian paradigm): The idea of incarnation as two natures in one hypostasis/person. And Paul’s “I live (simply the first person verb form of zoe), yet not ‘I’ (ego), but Christ lives in me.” However, I am not trying to particularly Christianize this. I will note, though, that the word generally translated as “life” in John 15:13 is psuche (“psyche” ), which is more often translated as “soul”—it is not simply physical life; and tithemi can mean “put” or “place” as well as “lay” or “lay down.”

    I deliberately use the word communion, rather than union to get at the notion that the “We” does not entail simply the eradication of one self into the other (like, say, Nirvana). Rather, it is a mutual inter-pouring. All my language here is somewhat metaphorical. I am using the deepest loving intimacy between two human beings that I know. As I say, it is a near-mystical (if not mystical) experience that moves beyond the language of concepts.

    To use the incarnation as a metaphor in the other direction, in the “We” the two natures (the two “I’s” ) form for a time one hypostasis or person. Again, this is metaphor.

    In the poem I used in my “sermon” I referred to the rhythm of love as “the rhythm of form and fullness and form.” A merging and a returning: from I-and-Thou to We to I-and-Thou again. (Not the subjugation of one to the other.) One has to allow the “We”—it cannot be clutched at or possessed or forced. It is an intimacy freely entered into, and freely departed from. In the human context, I only know the full intensity of such an intimacy with one person (and I am not speaking in strictly sexual terms here!). In the spiritual context—well, that’s what these metaphors and analogies are for.

    If I use the word love—unless I specify some different sense (like, “I love a warm spring day” )—I mean (1) as in the above post; if I refer to intimate love, I mean (1) plus (2). Another way to put it is that intimacy involves the process of mutual self-disclosure and vulnerability; that involves opening the ego boundaries between lovers—and when they are wide open, there is no discernable boundary between you; that is what I mean by “collapse.”

    None of this did I learn from a book. This is not an area where I bow to dictionary definitions. This is what I know; there are many things that I do not know.
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    25 Jun '07 18:21
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    In the context of "God is love", I'd define love the way Andrew Murray just described it: perfectly selfless and always giving, holding nothing back.
    I'll stick with 1Cor.13 for the definition of love.
  13. Standard memberwittywonka
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    25 Jun '07 18:24
    Originally posted by josephw
    I'll stick with 1Cor.13 for the definition of love.
    I think I'll agree with you there. That chapter has a lot of importance in it.
  14. Illinois
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    25 Jun '07 19:08
    Originally posted by josephw
    I'll stick with 1Cor.13 for the definition of love.
    "It is not self-seeking..." (1 Corinthians 13:5).

    Love is the fruit of the Spirit. We can live quite extraordinary Christian lives, giving to the poor and sacrificing ourselves for others, yet if we are not filled with the Spirit, then we are nothing. Our whole lives, moment to moment, must be filled with and controlled by the Spirit of Love. Otherwise nothing we can do will bring God glory, since our actions will not be the result of an outflowing of the fruit of the Spirit within us, but instead according to a different spirit (a selfish one perhaps). I believe the point of 1 Corinthians 13 is not to give a definition of love per se, but to underscore the fact that nothing can be accomplished for God in our own power. And furthermore, that we are not to merely seek God for the power to work God's works, but that we are to walk in the power of his Spirit continually. I believe this is what Paul means when he says, "If I have not love..."
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