..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Call to Agape Love: the Searchings and Stretchings of God

The Call to Agape Love: the Searchings and
Stretchings of God

Is it me or are all who are unreservedly
seeking to go on with God being stretched
and searched to the utmost? For the last
six months or so it has seemed like I
am being audited by Lord.

If you think the IRS is thorough, try
having the Living God go through the files
of your life! If you think airport security
in Israel is able to find everything, consider
the God of Israel systematically examining
every thought and intent of your heart.

A to Z. Start to finish. Back to front.
Inside and out. Searched. Examined.
Strength-tested like a cardboard box
in a crush test.

If we are truly His then it is His
right, of course. We are His to examine,
His to judge. His to test. It is not my
imagination and I am not upset. I am,
however, on "High Alert" in the "are
my lamps full of oil?" category, and
also in the "live each day with
eternity in mind" category.

I know many different people who live in
many diverse "fields of the Lord." All
so completely different, yet they are
all saying the same thing: stretched
beyond measure, purged, "like nothing
they have ever seen or known."

The apostle Paul wrote, "For we do not
want you to be unaware, brethren, of our
affliction which came to us in Asia, that
we were so utterly weighed down and crushed,
so that we despaired even of life itself.

Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we
had received the very sentence of death,
but that was to keep us from trusting
in and depending on ourselves instead
of on God Who raises the dead.

For it is He who rescued and saved us
from such a perilous death, and He will
still rescue and save us; in and on Him
we have set our hope that He will
again deliver us from danger and
destruction and draw us to Himself."
(2 Cor 1:8-10)

Tea, anyone? God's put the kettle on
to boil, only we are the gold in
the kettle and all the impurities
are rising to the surface.

Part of what God seems to be
testing is what comes out when
pressure is applied to our not-
so-sweet spots. In baseball there
is that certain place on the bat
where the ball will go the farthest
if you hit it on that part of the

All of us have our strong points and
our weak ones. God seems to be testing
what will happen if He allows our
not-so-sweet spots to be hit. Will
we fly off the handle? I love that
phrase for it hits the nail right
on the head :). The phrase was
first used by Thomas Haliburton and
draws the picture of a loose axehead
flying off the ax handle. Indeed,
flying off to do much damage.

God needs to know, and we need to
find out, if we are going to be
the kind of people who look out
for others no matter what. When
I am hurt, it often becomes all
about me, and tending to "my"
hurt. Suddenly, the needs of
others, especially those who
have hurt me, can be far down
on my list of priorities.

Think of Jesus. In the middle of
His hurt and pain, He went on
winning our salvation. Amazing.
Never left his assignment. Never
turned back. Never gave up. Never
asked His Father to blow the
world to pieces.

Actually, in the hour of His
greatest need He is found tending
both God's heart and the eternal
destiny of his persecutors.
When he tells His Father,
"Forgive them, for
they do not know what they
are doing" He is reaching out
to His Father's heart. Could He
see such pain in His Father's
eyes, that He wondered if God
would go back on His plan and
do some real, and deserved,
damage to we who inflicted
such rejection, pain,and death
on His Only Son? Has
God already experienced what
He asks us to experience? You can
bet your eternal life on it.

Jesus was also reaching out
to reduce the judgment that would
fall on His persecutors. "They
do not know what they are doing."
Whatever is the nature of this kind
of love?

God triumphed the day Jesus gave
Himself up to His Father on the
cross. He triumphed in Himself,
and in the person of His

Jesus triumphed, also. He showed us
how strong agape love is,
how powerful, what a mighty force
it is! He holds that love up as a
standard for us. The kind
of love that walks not only the
second mile with its tormentors, but
the seventy-second mile. The kind
of love that turns cheek after
cheek to be slapped. How in the world
could this kind of love be the love that
saves the world? Paul calls it a scandal!
It is God's tour d'force.

For God to have a people who live
as He lives, He must incarnate His
agape love in us. He must test
us to find out what kind of love we have.
This kind of love is not for
the mushy or faint-hearted. This is
not "feel-good" love. It is agape love
displayed before principalities and
powers. It is saving love, and to get
it it must be supernaturally implanted
by the Spirit of God.

Every Christian martyr has had an
opportunity to enter into this kind
of love. The Jews, also, when confronted
with the horror of the Holocaust, were
offered an opportunity to begin to
enter into the kind of forgiving love
that only comes from God.

We, too, are being offered an opportunity
to enter into a new dimension of our
experience with God's agape Love.

Jesus calls us to this kind of love in
the face of great persecution by our
enemies: "You have heard that it was
said, 'Love (agape) your neighbor and hate
your enemy.' But I tell you: Love (agape)
your enemies and pray for those who persecute
you, that you may be sons of your Father
in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on
the evil and the good, and sends rain on
the righteous and the unrighteous. If you
love those who love you, what reward will
you get?" (Matthew 5:43-46)

What reward will I get? Yikes. Is it
getting hot in here or what? But I tell
you this. I know that there is a felt
knowledge of God--a knowing of God like
no other knowing, when we enter into
this kind of love. You see, you and
I are really all cramped up in self-
protection. We drive our puny little
car called "self-interest" around
and scream hate words if anyone
scratches the paint, or bangs the

We do not really know agape love.
We do not respect what it is
capable of. We misjudge its cover,
for it is clothed in humility.
We are like incredulous doubters,
an unbelieving generation where
Jesus can do but a few small
miracles because our unbelief in
His love is so great.

In our darkest hours we have the
opportunity to cast these shackles
off and love "like crazy." Love
supernaturally. Love way past any
human ability we have to love. Agape

Is it going to hurt? Well, what
is going to hurt is letting go
of our old system of loving. And
we won't let go until we know
that that system is not just
inadequate but dysfunctional.

What if I am so hurt that I want
to love, but cannot? Rejoice.
You are just at the place where
you can experience the greatest
miracle of your life. A miracle
that will serve you well in
eternity. The thing is, can you
let go of that old love, now
totally drained,and more looking
like something that does not resemble
love at all? Hurt does that to us
as humans. It either kills our capacity
to love, or does us the favor of
killing what is keeping our love
on a human level so that we have
the opportunity to enter into
God's love.

Can you drop as dead as dead can
be into the arms of your Father
and let Him raise you, by HIS
love, into a new life? I assure
you that YOU do not have to
supply the love. He will. But
it will not run on the circuitry
of human love.

Do I know what I am talking about?
Just enough to know that its
true. There is no other way. I want
to know what that kind of love
is like and in the normal course
of events I won't be motivated
enough to sell all for the "pearl
of great price." Neither will you.

Let your grief, let your testings
and trials, sweep you into the
good arms of God. Is it a loss
of control? Absolutely! Might you
think it will sweep you toward
death and not life? No doubt. You
will not know that God's agape
is like no other love on earth
until you trust God and take the
plunge. God does not lead us
toward evil. He will give
us what need. A good dose of
agape. It heals what
ails not just your soul, but
the souls of the whole world.

Be all you can be: Agape your

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