Random Thoughts on Love

Love is not an emotion. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear . . . those are emotions, fickle and changeable. Love is a paradigm from which emotions and actions flow and by which they are measured.  So it is both far greater, and far more terrible.

Love is self-revelation.  God gives revelation in his Son as an expression of his love for us, and so we must likewise do for those we love.

Love is sacrifice.  For its sake and for the sake of the one loved, you give all; of your wealth, your time, and even your life.

Love is incarnation.  Phone and Facebook will not suffice.  Even the word of prophets simply point to Someone visiting in the flesh.

Love is blind . . . covering a multitude of transgressions.  Not a bad thing at all.

Love is hope and patience combined.  A mere month after meeting Rachel, Jacob eagerly agreed to labor seven years for her hand.  “And they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”

Love is idiotic.  But God likes to work wonders in ways that at first seem foolish.

Love has no boundaries.  It is the boundary.  There is no law against love because love fulfills the law.

Love forgoes choice, for it has already chosen.

Love is a blessed inconvenience.

Love needs acceptance.  Even the sweetest wine turns to vinegar if left too long unconsumed.

Love gives, not only what it has, but even what it has not.

The gift of the heart, once given, cannot be withdrawn.

Citizens of Heaven

Philippians 3:20–4:1
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Last week I attended the CREC Council meeting along with the elders of my church in beautiful Lake Tahoe, and was witness to the work of the Spirit throughout the far reaches of the world.  People from nations who are enemies, and indeed at war with each other, came together in one place and were united in the purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

No, not all tension was gone.  There is deep seated animosity and distrust that must still be overcome.  We all must be continually reminded that we do not belong ultimately to the nations in which we reside.  I am an American, as Paul was a Roman.  But my citizenship is in heaven.  Whether we hail from Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary, The United States, France, or Japan, we are fellow citizens and have one King, and we must therefore affirm a common purpose.

We must daily put to death the flesh and walk in the Spirit.  This must mean, then, also putting to death our loyalties to earthly authorities wherever they may raise themselves as an obstacle to our ultimate loyalty, not only to Jesus Christ, but also to each other as brothers and sisters.  Blood must be stronger than national allegiance.  For it is the Blood shed for all of us that unites us.

Hebrews 11:13–14
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

“Why is the Wine Gone?”

At the wedding of Cana, the wine runs out.  This could be disastrous!  It is very poor form to run out of wine, especially at a wedding.  A wedding is a blessing, and invokes the blessing of God and of the people upon a new union.  Yet instead of the blessing of God at this wedding, is a sign of curse.  The wine is gone (Isaiah 24:7-9, Lamentations 2:11-12).  This is indicative of the state of Israel.  She is the bride of YHWH, but the blessing of the land has vanished.  It is the responsibility of the bridegroom to supply the wine.  What has gone wrong?

But the wedding of Cana is saved and redeemed, for YHWH is in attendance.  Jesus is the great husband of the bride, for he takes water and glorifies it in the making of wine.  Water is to quench the thirst and to give life.  But wine gives merriment.  Jesus shows himself to be the giver of life when he brings us through water; he shows himself to be the bridegroom of the Church when he gives her bread and wine.

On Books and Movies

“Oh, the book was better than the movie.”

It’s a commonly heard phrase whenever a film adaptation of a book is released.  Scads of book fans flock to the theaters to see (and judge!) how the the director has envisioned the same material that they have already experienced.  Usually it’s objectively true that the book is far more complex thematically and philosophically than the film adaptation.  You can only cram so much into a 2-3 hour film, after all.  At the same time, there’s more to be said here.

A film is a fundamentally different medium than a novel.  Not only in the way it’s presented, but also in what it asks the audience to do.  In fact, a book does not have a mere audience, for a reader is not a passive viewer or listener, even in the case of one listening to a book in audio format.  The medium of the word, whether written or spoken, is essentially different from visuals.

When an author writes a book, what is asked of the reader is that they be a co-creator with the author.  Oh for a muse of fire!  But the reader’s imagination is just such a muse.  Or it can be.  When an author paints a scene with words, he relies on the reader to fill in all the color and texture, to see the movement in the mind, to hear the voices spoken by actors in their head.

Reading a story is a participatory act.  The author hands you the unfinished materials and submits it in part to your imagination.  “Here, lets create this together,” she says.  And it takes a practiced and imaginative reader to effectively do so.

A film is entirely different.  In film, the director, together with the actors, the lighting crew, the cinematographers, the set builders, the effects department, and the music score composers ask something different.  They ask that you sit passively and watch their vision.  Sure, your mind may consciously engage with the thematic aspects of a movie, but the movie is what it is.

It is a completed work of art.  Self-contained and self-sufficient.  The film I see on the screen is the same film you see on the screen.  We may have different reactions to what we have seen, but we have seen essentially the same thing.  This is what makes film such a fun medium.  The viewer gets to see how someone (or someones) else imagines a thing, which is a thing that cannot be experienced apart from the visual.  And film has come a long way in being able to visually present what could before only be imagined.

Film watching is, by and large, a passive event.  “Here is how we all have imagined this story.  See how we have interpreted the word,” the filmmakers say to the viewer.  And they all ask that you submit for the next couple hours to the vision they have created.

It’s also fun to watch the end credits on a huge summer blockbuster.  If only to remind myself just how many hundreds (or thousands) of people with specialized skill sets it requires to visually represent what one person’s mind can imagine simply by reading words on a page.

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