Monday, July 22, 2013

Impatient Love is Impotent

God Almighty is all-powerful and all-knowledgeable. HE can do anything HE can and possesses the sum total of all knowledge there ever was and ever will be. But I am awestricken whenever I think how God patiently waits for man to believe, love, and coexist with HIM.

God does overwhelm people through visions, revelations and dreams (e.g. Conversion of Saul to Paul). HE can do what and how HE wants, for what HE does is always just. Finite man ought to concede this facet to the infinite God, for justice is omnipresent in God. 

Let us examine how love is often expressed in human relationships. If the spouse has things done his/her way, love abounds. If things are not done his/her way, love demands. If demands are unmet, love is polluted. Similarly, if a child pleases the parent through appreciable acts, the parent showers the child with love and its most befitting tangible and intangible expressions. Contrarily, if the child fails to satisfy parent’s expectations, parental love demands. If demands are unmet, love is polluted. Often, pollution of love entails anger. This anger could be tied with frustration, where one seeks control to motivate the other to love him.

Yes, more often in relationships, we seek control to love one another. If we assume to know the right, that knowledge often desires worship of self, and claims that the other should concede (what they believe as right), prostrate and love us. This is love in our parlance. Sadly, this is love in its superfluous mediocrity - an impotent love.

God knows the best and the right. Why then is HE patient in HIS love for man? Why does the Bible attribute patience as the first component of love (1 Corinthians 13: 4)? The Bible mandates patience upon the believer, for patience is love’s primary component. But wait! Man’s patience contains an attribute that is nonexistent in God’s patience. The patience of man includes ‘hope’ or ‘expectation;’ ‘hope’ is an attribute that is nonexistent in God’s patience.  God cannot hope, for omniscience excludes hope. Thus, patience in God gains a modified meaning. Allow me to elaborate.

Patience is exhibited during situations of adversities – delay, pain, provocation, misfortune etc. In adversity, one patiently hopes for the situation to heal / be favorable. 

For instance, a child may patiently wait for a gift, but in the mind of the child there is a hope that the gift is imminent. Another instance is when I am patiently waiting for a bus that is delayed. I hope the bus will arrive sooner than later. I am unsure when and if the bus would arrive, but I hope for its arrival. Hope overwhelms uncertainty, but lacks practical knowledge. The bus may or may not arrive soon; hence I am unsure of the practical knowledge of the timing of the bus’ arrival. Thus, practical knowledge is absent in hope.

As I wait patiently in hope for the bus to arrive soon, and if it arrives later than the time I had hoped, I’d be disappointed. If it fails to arrive altogether, I would be frustrated. There is always an outcome to patience. Patience is fulfilled when the bus arrives or when the child gets his gift. When the desired goal is achieved, patience will be non-existent. Patience can be filled with disappointment upon delay - in receiving the gift or for the bus to arrive. Patience is frustrated, when the gift is not received by the child, or when one misses an important engagement due to the bus’ delay. Thus, patience can result in one of the following - joy upon fulfillment, disappointment upon delay, or frustration upon denial of that which is expected.

God’s patience has no fulfillment, disappointment, or frustration. These emotions do not exist in God. Foreknowledge, or in a broader sense, omniscience, excludes fulfillment, disappointment and the likes. Let us dig deeper.

Going back to the instance of the delayed bus, when I observe such a delay, I call my friend - the bus driver, who informs that the bus would be indefinitely delayed due to clogged traffic. The moment I possess this knowledge, the aspect of hope departs from my mind. I no longer patiently hope for the bus to arrive, but I am certain that it would not. So I find an alternate action, which is to walk home in frustration. Thus, when knowledge replaces hope, patience becomes virtually nonexistent. Hence, in God, hope and the consequent disappointment is nonexistent, for HE is omniscient. 

God’s patience excludes fulfillment, hope, disappointment and the likes. When God loves, HE loves patiently knowing with certainty if man would love HIM or not. God’s patient love provides, provides and provides – to even those whom HE knows will never believe or love HIM, or that the believing man will always fall short of HIS glory. God does not find an alternate action when man fails HIM. But HE continues the act of providing immensely. Can you comprehend the magnificent facet of God’s love? God loves, knowing that man will relentlessly fall short of HIM. HE neither hopes nor is HE disappointed.

This is the love we ought to exhibit. Our love should be without hope or disappointment. I am neither advocating stoicism (or other similar –isms), nor am I advocating that a christian should not expect to be fulfilled or be filled with hope or get disappointed. I believe that fulfillment, hope and disappointment should not pollute our neighborly / godly love. 

When you and I talk about loving each other as God loves us, we ought to love, by providing their necessities and in some instances their extravagances too, albeit disloyalty and hatred. Love is patient, and patient love is potent!

But belief is a condition to God’s love. I have drifted through this subject in my previous blog. If man does not believe in God, he misses out on the best part of God’s love i.e. eternity. It is only man’s belief in God that will enable him to experience the unmitigated expressions of God’s love.

When one lovingly gives and gives himself sacrificially to another, and if the other refuses to believe in the source of love, I believe that the giver’s ‘giving’, would decrease or amend at a certain time. But when belief is truthfully and rightfully placed on the source of love, the giving of the giver exceeds all expectations for love to flourish. This is the conditional nature of love and patience.

In other words, the Bible states that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13: 5, NIV). However, we see a reality of hell in the Bible (my friends from the christian universalistic persuasion would disagree with me, but we can agree to disagree). Hell is where the account of wrongs (due to unbelief in God) is considered and respectfully rewarded, for only belief in Christ saves man from his sins. Thus, in case of unbelief, love recognizes the extent of evil or the record of wrongs, and patience becomes virtually nonexistent. Love and patience are finite / limited in unbelief.

Having said this, we can emulate God’s love, by HIS power and grace, by being patient with each other. Since the believer in Christ is growing in Christlikeness, we can pray to love each other potently as God in Christ loves each of us. May we, by the power of God, destroy the impotency in our love and love each other with the potent love of our Almighty God. May God grant us this blessing.

I am drifting through the subject of love, so in my next blog I will endeavor to dig into the subject of jealousy in love. The Bible says that love is not jealous (1 Corinthians 13: 4, NASB), but God, the source and the model of love, is a jealous God (Exodus 20: 5). Comprehending this apparent contradiction would be the theme of my next blog. Please uphold me in your prayers. Amen. 

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