Category Archives: love

Why is there love in the world?

Why does the widower miss his wife so badly? Why does the mum love her children? Why does the infant desperately want his mum more than anything? Why do you love that particular food, cooked in that particular way? Why does that piece of music give you that spine-tingly feeling? Why do you feel elation at the winning wicket or goal? Why does the fireman run into the burning building to rescue the little girl? Why will a soldier give his life to rescue a comrade?

Why is there such a thing as love in the world? I wonder what answer you’d give.

It’s a question which the atheist has to explain away. “Love is just a chemical process in the brain, that has evolutionary advantages”; “Love’s an illusion”. “Our experience of love makes it look more significant than it really is”. But as Christians we can give a much better answer than that. Here is how the puritan John Owen answered that question, which if you were there on Sunday you’ve already heard (I’ve updated the language slightly):

“the only reason why there is such a thing as love in the world among creatures… was that it might shadow and represent the indescribable, eternal love that the Father had for the Son, and the Son for the Father, by the Spirit” (John Owen vol. 9, 613).

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! I’m not sure it’s possible to come up with a better answer than that. That answer means that we haven’t over-estimated how significant our experience of love really is; we’ve underestimated its significance. Our highest, most powerful experiences of love are just the weakest scent, the most diluted versions of the reality of God the Father’s love for the Son.

And just to remind you what we saw on Sunday: John 1:12 invites you and me into the circle of that love! “To all who did receive [Jesus]… who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”.

Your most important piece of furniture

People today invest money in their beds, their mattresses, their bathrooms, their TVs, and sound system. But the Christian’s most important piece of furniture is his table. Even Jesus has one (see 1 Cor 10:21)! A table is where we eat with Christian brothers and sisters and with our neighbours. It’s a place where we’re forced to look at each other, listen to each other, and talk to each other. It, therefore, plays a very important part in Christians letting their light shine before others (Matt 5:16).

Rosaria Butterfield’s written a fascinating book on hospitality. Some of it won’t apply so well to life in the UK, and, to be honest, her example is a bit exhausting, but here’s an excerpt:

“I prepare for daily hospitality in our home and at our table. If for some odd reason, we are the only ones there, then I have food to freeze. No big problem. In regular and daily ways, by dinnertime, our house is usually filled with a friend or two from church, a friend or two from the neighbourhood, and a group of children. We have gathered together enough times that as new people join us, we can all make them feel welcome.

In our house, and in the Bible, people take on the roles and responsibilities of both host and guest. Our routine of daily hospitality means that my children have plenty of examples of Christian living – including the important example set by vital, vibrant Christian adults who are single. Our routine means that our children watch adults they respect struggle with big issues before the Lord. This makes their own personal struggles less frightening. In our house it is normal to struggle with sin and to do openly. Repentance is a Christian fruit, not a social shame”.

If we want to break down barriers in church and in Ilford, your table is a key piece of equipment. A good question to think and pray about is: “Who could I invite around my table to show God’s love?”. Or “How can I help someone else in church use their table to show God’s love?”.

Remember:

– Don’t just invite your pals. Luke 14:12-13 – “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”.

– Don’t think you have to serve up something impressive – Matthew 10:42 “even a cup of cold water” or a piece of toast can count!

Let’s put our tables to work in Ilford!