Learning to Love Backwards

Backwards Arrows

When you are vulnerable and helpless, that’s when it becomes crucial who comes into your life. Once you’re under someone else’s care, the reality that life and death is ultimately not under your control comes to the surface. It’s good to have that light bulb switched on so that you have enough courage to face death. That way, when pain arrives and it’s sorrows spring out like rivers, you will not be given over to complete waywardness, but resolve in the holiness of Christ.

This Devotional is more of a supplement to my previous blog: Cell With an X. We’re going to check out two passages of scriptures for the sake of study. The interesting thing about this is that we will be doing this backwards. You’ll understand why shortly.

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in the world. 18 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. 1 Jo 4:16-18 ESV

Now I’m going to need or you to get your penny loafers and white socks ready because we’re walking backwards here.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 Jo 2:15-17 ESV

One, two, twist, kick, turn! Spin around! Glide! That’s it! Now let’s go ahead and start thinking about the passages.

Points to Consider

  • How perfect is YOUR love? Have you felt God’s Supreme Love towards you?
  • What type of fear is appropriate with love? What needs to be put away?
  • If perfection is complete, how should one love the world and its components?
  • Is lust inherently evil? How would you define godly lust?
  • Note the phrase: but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
    To what extent will the present world always remain? How does this inform the believer in engaging in ‘worldliness’?

Final Take

These points need to be addressed because there are quite a few brothers and sisters in Christ who take inferences from these passages for granted. In one corner, we have people who conflate practicing social justice as a gospel antagonistic to the mission of Christ. On another corner, there are Christians who view any type of worldliness against the mandate to holiness. And yet another corner presumes that there is no sin and that we can do whatever whenever we want. All of these takes are half-truths that have unfortunately been perpetuated in Christendom for centuries. And it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It is humbling to have to sit down with people and go WORD for WORD to show richness of meaning and reveal what the Scriptures are ACTUALLY saying as opposed to what people merely THINK it is saying. Context and nuance is KEY. And as we progress in learning more about the TRUTH of God’s Word and His will in our lives, we’ll be disciplined in a way that reflects Him according to His faithfulness. Remember no matter what good you do in this world, those who don’t understand or hate you will have something negative to say.

Aim for the Ace

Ace Playing Card

Me: Dennis, why don’t you know how to act?
Dennis: What you talkin’ about?
Me: The people sayin’ you causing trouble again. Why you gotta be a problem these days?
Denis: I’d rather be a menace to solve, than be a mace forgotten and discarded.

Being an artist myself, it’s easy to predict who is good as opposed to who will be great. Good artists are either naturally talented or have charisma. The greats I’ve studied all possess a similar characteristic; a strong work ethic. Following Jeff Bezos’ philosophy, the men I’ve admired either worked hard, smart, long, or a combination of the three. There’s this nagging urge to improve – to do better than what they did yesterday. As a Christian man, I too adopt this passion not to be great, but to be whole. I desire perfection because I believe it’s the best way to reflect the glory of God in this age. It’s relieving to know that perfectionism doesn’t have to stem from a desire to be accepted or feel superior than others. There’s the possibility for it to be healthy as it arises from a certain unction:

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Cor 13:11 ESV

Ready

Typically, people won’t gain interest in something unless it is accepted by others and gives them an advantage. No call is more compelling than having the upper hand no matter how often the deck is shuffled. The allure of living the Supreme Life and being Ultimately Loved in community with fellow believers is the selling point of the Christian faith. If this is something that one desires, how should they be prepared in practicing godliness and circumspection! Practice makes progress which is within perfection.

Practice makes progress which is within perfection.

The prototype

Set

Dennis the Menace

To give a solid premise for such a pursuit – as idealistic and unreal it seems – let’s reexamine the existential claim against perfection: perfect doesn’t exist and nobody is perfect. While this maybe the prevailing opinion, it deserves a challenge. For those who assert these notions have already disqualified themselves as arbiters to reality. If nobody is perfect, neither are you, so why should we take your postulations seriously? But we understand that the ideas around restoration exists – at the very least – nominally. And if we are honest enough to admit our judgments are NOT ALWAYS sound, we can begin to explore three hypothesis:

  1. Someone is perfect
  2. that someone is NOT you
  3. that someone IS you

You mean to tell me that there may be someone out there right now that is so smitten about you that they are doing everything within their power to be with you? Have you ever felt that way about someone? What exactly does it mean to be perfect? This is what I want my journey to be all about. In this blog however, we’re talking about what perfect love looks like and how can we grow into loving in this manner.

The Building Blocks to a Fulfilling Love Life

1. Philautia

Philautia is what should be the base for all other loves. Now for many Christians, this may run counter to their viewpoint that agape is the base and we don’t want to disagree with the philosophy of how man has the capacity to love. We start with self-love to avoid the sinister arbitrariness of dogma and allow men to experience the love of Christ AS they love themselves.

1 Be aware children, that in the midst of perils, times of restoration will come in the last days. 2 For as God loves the world, people will love themselves, filling their storehouses with the treasures of charity. 3 They shall wax self-confident in Christ and boast in the LORD; destroying every lofty thing opposed to DIVINE KNOWLEDGE. 4 No longer shall they listen to the wicked advice of their ancestors, but they will learn the Law of Christ. 5 Contentment for mediocracy and evil shall no longer be commended, and thanks shall be given to God for the power to overcome. 6 Piety shall no longer be practiced in pretense. It shall be developed in the light of God’s Word. 2 James 3:1-5 The Prototypical Version

Excerpt from the Lost Letters – James Richardson

2. Pragma

Pragma is practical love and is the natural overflow of Philautia. While self-love is consistent with the traditions of Soliphism, it’s difficult to reasonably ignore the sense of duty. Arguably self-love is the most subjective of loves. Pragmatic love is the beginning of making relative progress – or to put it more bluntly – pragma love deals with what who or what one can love in their present circumstances. Unfortunately this type of love if left unfulfilled will be less fun or stimulating. Wedding reason with imagination may help one assess options that will allow them to realize the freedom of Christ as opposed to being a slave to situations.

20Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 1 Cor 7:20

Will – Joyner Lucas & Will Smith

Me: Bro, when you gonna get out of yo’ man cave and hang?
Dennis: ****** I’m snoozing out here, lemme get back with you.
Me: Aight bet. Hit me up!

3. Philia

The next level up would be friendly or ‘brotherly’ love. Take note that ‘brother’ is written in the Spirit of Christ and not exclusive or misnaming those who are ‘sisters’ and/or otherwise. If you haven’t realized this already, this is where Philadelphia got it’s name from. The end goal of brotherly love is benevolence to one’s neighbor. In Christianity, this type of love ought to be fulfilled in time and space – that is – it ought to be everlasting and extended to everyone.

4. Storge

If you have made significant deposits of benevolence, it’s easier for your love to pass through the storge phase; familial love. We do not choose the families we are born into, but we have the freedom to surround ourselves with a family integral to our growth. Now storge love is normally reduced to love between parent and child, it can additionally be associated with uncles, cousins, nieces, etc.

5. Ludas

Somewhere between reaching out to having your deepest desires met, and behaving in a becoming way, is the need to break the rules. Enter Ludas love, which is more playful and flirtatious is nature. Just like self-love has negative and positive aspects to it, ludas love should be approached with caution. Non-committed love, if casually practiced can lead to breaches in health and relationships. This is especially true if one is seeking sexual liberation outside of the light of the Holy Ghost. A simple way of avoiding such vices is looking to Jesus as you relate to people. Lead through the transformation of your heart, and not through the appetites of your body and you will do well.

Non-committed love, if casually practiced can lead to breaches in health and relationships.

Can I get it on a platter, shatter your bladder
And put so much light in yo’ life I’ll make the roaches scatter
– Ludacris

6. Eros

Practice Ludas long enough and you’ll enter Eros love. This love is the most passionate of the rest as it includes romance and sex. For Christians, this love is reserved for marriage nevertheless it includes the mystical union of being joined to Christ. It’s been said that Eros is by instinct the natural course of life to survive. This resonates with me as I’m compelled by an innate desire to have what is purely pleasing to me. And I am certain that neither ecstasy or heaven can be real without God.

Warning about Eros

It should be noted here that only in the context of the mystical union of Christ can porneia be redeemed. Porneia is the greek word for any extra-marital relationship carried out by body, soul, and mind.

Greek word Porneia

To be clear, to physically carry out fornication, adultery, pedophilia, incest and the like goes against the will of God and is deserving of damnation as one corrupts themselves. But those who diligently look to Christ, who richly provides all for our enjoyment, will be transformed in a way where pursuing conjugal relationships are consistent with Divine Law and it’s consummation acceptable to God and man. May this word serve both as encouragement and conviction to those who have pure desires but have stepped out of Divine will; who exchanged godly transformation for artificial substitutes and therefore fell short of reflecting God’s full glory.

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7. Agape

It may be hard to imagine a love that is better than romantic and platonic love; tell certain people that sex is overrated and they might look at you funny. The pinnacle of all loves is the love God has for humanity and inversely the love man has for God. It’s this type of love that I desperately long for. The hope of restoration is found in this affection.

And if we’re honest enough to admit our judgements are NOT ALWAYS sound, we can begin to explore three hypothesis:
1. Someone is perfect
2. that someone is NOT you
3. that someone IS you

Go!

Who needs perfectionists in an age where Narcissism abounds? Can the world sustain more people with inflated egos? There needs to be a distinction between one who is arrogant and selfish, one who is self-confident and generous, and one who has God-esteem and is benevolent. While much has been written about the former and has caused much grief and problems in our world, there is much room for the latter to heal and restore the world around us. God-esteem by definition is ascribing God to be Immaculate and by union, a reflection of His perfection. And just like how Christ’s Incarnation was birthed to build a meaningful relationship with the world, Christians ought to strive to build a profound fellowship with each other.

God-esteem
noun

1. The practice of ascribing perfection to God and by extension yourself.

In conclusion, perfect love is immanent in all the other loves discussed. However, agape love is transcendent and is where a person may find the awe and sublime of God. So therefore, what is holding you back from becoming a true worshipper of Christ? Do you doubt that a full reward awaits you as you give Him your all? Are you still feeling like you can never be deeply loved? There are yet sublime experiences to be had in marriage. Your marriage does not need to burn out. There is a passion even the singles can feel alone. And it’s all found in Christ:

You didn’t get tired of me/
When I brought you hell/
Ice fell as an epagoge/
Rock bottom now I found a gem emoji/
Thank you LORD for loving me/
Even when I was unloveable/
You gave me faith & believed in me/
With a grace so incredible/
I laugh with joy unspeakable/
It preaches to the unreachable/
LORD cause me to not save face/
All day long may I give you praise/

So Israel left Egypt which is called Babylon to serve the LORD.

Me: Yo’ Dennis are you up yet?
Dennis…
DENNIS!!!

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

— Hebrews 10:14 ESV

Ace Turkey Diamond Card