I recently came across some people discussing a dilemma about 'Church', 'love' and men.
The concern had arisen that the word 'love' turns men off so they really don't want to come to church.
I'm not completely sure about all of that ... but I can really see where that person was coming from.
The problem lies in a fundamental misunderstanding
There's such a misunderstanding of what love is that it can make many men IN OUR CULTURE (and that's the key) associate it with either the sentimental outpourings of Mariah Carey or the steamier side of Saturday nights!
But we can't just cave in accommodate to our culture's misunderstandings and ... without attempting further explanation ... ditch the teaching of Scripture that our God is the epitome of love.
Something deep in many a heart cries out
that love should be neither fluffy nor pink!
And that's something Psalm 136 can really help us with ...
So it looks like His love isn't pink - but in this Psalm we can see that it is really POWERFUL!
You want to know what love is?
Then let our God show you!
Here it comes ...
The loyal commitment of love God makes to His people in this psalm showed up when He ...
- performed magnificent, amazing deeds all by himself v. 4
- used wisdom to make the heavens, v. 5
- spread out the earth over the water, v. 6
- made the great lights, v. 7
- made the sun to rule by day, v. 8
- made the moon and stars to rule by night, v. 9
- struck down the firstborn of Egypt the most powerful state of their day, v. 10
- led Israel out and through the barren desert, v. 11 - and did it with
- a strong hand and an outstretched arm, v. 12
- divided the Red Sea in two, and
- led Israel through its midst, vv. 13-14 then
- tossed Pharaoh and his army (the most advanced military force of its time) unceremoniously into the Red Sea, v. 15
Are you getting the general idea?
And then He ...
Led His people through the hardest of times
- led his people through the wilderness, v. 16
- defended them from all violent threats, vv. 17-20
Provided for all His people's needs
- Materially, He gave their land as an inheritance, vv. 21-22
- Emotionally, He remembered us when we were down, v. 23
- Giving security, v. 24, He "snatched us away from our enemies"
Not much of that looks very fluffy, and neither does it look very 'pink'!
The God of the Bible acts powerfully and protectively, creating, rescuing, leading and providing, faithfully meeting material, emotional and security needs ... and THAT's how He shows us what real, loyal love is.
So we've got a problem with the Bible in our culture.
Our culture defines 'love' as either soppy sentimentalism or sensual sexuality and our God IS (in His very nature) a love of a very different character. A love which shows up as
- loyalty and
- commitment in
- leadership and
- provision at
- the greatest of sacrifice from Himself ...
- to those who can do nothing to deserve it.
We have quite a challenge on our hands here, and maybe it needs to start with a reset in OUR minds.
We need to get more of our ideas from the Bible, for sure (that's always true!)
In this case that might mean radically rooting out from ourselves any false ideas of what love is from our hearts.
Only then can we truly manifest and demonstrate God's own definition of love.
Then and only when we're doing that, can we take these lessons we've taught to ourselves and apply them in ways that are appropriate to the nature of all of our different sorts of relationships.
And behaviour change for believers often starts off in the way that we focus our worship ... so we could do far worse than to start off today from the place where the psalmist does here:
"Give thanks to the God of heaven,for his loyal love endures!"