Friday, June 3, 2011

Beloved for Whom?

Ephesians 5:1-2 "1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." 
Most of the commentaries I read on these verses are angled to believe that this verse is telling how we are to love others; that Christ loved us this way so we should love others this way. And not to say that I know more than these scholars but I'm not convinced that's all there is. My question was: Is this meant to be outward focused; saying 'this is how you love others?' Or is this meant to be inward focused; a state in which we live and act; out of knowing how deeply we're loved, just as Christ did?
Several words stuck out to me so I went to the Greek to see what they could unveil.
Ephesians 5:1 "1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."
-"Beloved" (ἀγαπητὰagapēta) This has 2 applications:
                             1. The Beloved, a title of the Messiah
                             2. of Christians, as beloved by God, Christ and one another
                 -It is derived from agapē and means "divinely loved", "loved by God" i.e. personally experienceing God's agapē love. 
-"Children" (τέκνα- teknon) and means "anyone living in full dependence on the heavenly Father; i.e. fully (willingly) relying upon the Lord in glad submission. This prompts God to transform them into His likeness.
                 -"It illustrates how we must all live in utter dependence upon the Lord (moment by moment), drawing guidance (care, nurture) from our heavenly Father." 
                 -"Emphasizes the childlike (not childish) attitude of heart that willingly (gladly) submits to the Father's plan. 
Ephesians 5:2 "2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." 
'And' is a conjunction which means that it's continuing a thought, not starting a new one. It's never adversative; never meaning "however" or "but".

The focus in verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2 clearly puts the emphasis on our relationship with the Father.   It's not broken up; from verse 1 to verse 2, it's a continuous flow; a single thought. When you look at the definition of children, and how that's how we're being told to live in both verses 1 and 2, Christ is mentioned in verse 2 as the ultimate example of how we're loved and also how Jesus Christ operated as a beloved Child.
Christ lived "in full dependence on the heavenly Father..fully and willingly relying upon the Lord in glad submission." He lived "in utter dependence upon the Lord...moment by moment, drawing guidance, care and nurture from our heavenly Father." His relationship with the Father was everything; the Gospel of John bleeds with Christ's affection and devotion to the Father.

I think that verses 1 and 2 are meant to show us that we're to walk in dependence with the Father and in the sure, constant assurance of how deeply loved we are; it's more inward focused rather than outward focused. It's about how we receive, return, and operate in the love of the Father.
In Rob Bell's new book Love Wins he talks about Heaven and the misconceptions about it. He says, "when Jesus talked about heaven, He was talking about our present eternal, intense, real experiences of joy, peace, and love in this life, this side of death and the age to come...eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God." He goes on to say, "Jesus talked about a reality called the kingdom of God. He described an all-pervasive dimension of being, a bit like oxygen for us or water for a fish, that he insisted was here, at hand, now, among us, and upon us. He spoke with God as if God was right here, He healed with power that He claimed was readily accessible all the time, and He taught His disciples that they would do even greater things than what they saw Him doing. He spoke of oneness with God, the God who is so intimately connected with life in this world that every hair on your head is known. Jesus lived and spoke as if the whole world was a thin place for Him, with endless dimensions of the divine infinitesimally close, with every moment and every location simply another experience of the divine reality that is all around us, through us, under and above us all the time. It is as if we're currently trying to play the piano while wearing oven mitts. We can make a noise, sometimes even hit the notes well enough to bang out a melody, but it doesn't sound like it could, or should."

There is a divine love waiting for us to engage and we, I, spend so much time focusing on what we then do with that love that we stop truly loving all together. Worship and love go hand-in-hand; they can't be separated. We worship in and because we love, we don't worship in order to love. Our impact flows out of intimacy, not the other way around. Recognize that you are beloved by God, rest and bathe in being loved so that you can go and be love and in being love, you find yourself.

Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons says it all

Sigh No More from Kern Ducote on Vimeo.

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