The Sufficiency of Divine Love
In many things we offend all.... Jms. 3:2
Who is sufficient for these things? II Cor.2:16
The definition of love given by Jesus---thus the only true one---is one of personal intimacy predicated upon obedience to the Spirit of Truth (ie, to spiritual truth), supremely evidenced by the giving of one's life for his friends:
Jn. 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.---15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.---16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.."
And so, as has been said from the beginning in this series, love is to a standard (and thus also, so much for the unbridled teaching of "unconditional love."). Love is relational intimacy in Christ conditioned on obedience to spiritual truth as revealed by the Spirit of Truth to be promoted self-sacrificially among those who are in Christ.
Yet as was also seen in The Fractious Nature of Light, and as we all know, obedience to spiritual truth exercised for the sake of divine love carries costs that produce results entirely anathematic to divine love (loathsome, disgusting, hateful). Here are the things obedience to spiritual truth evinces and produces:
Fear, control, frustration
Anxiety / worry
Mental constriction and paralysis
Emotional constriction and paralysis
Release and encounter of these toxins are the price paid for proving our love to the Lord through obedience to the voice of His Spirit of Truth counter to the crowd, and by giving our lives on behalf of bringing our brethren into like obedience and intimacy. The obedience given to promote the union of intimacy produces relational fracture and paralyzing internal isolation---the substance of the tribulation Jesus said we would reap if we actually obeyed His commands. Divine love exposes evil spirits at work in ourselves and in the others whom we love. This is why there is a wilderness, and in turn why there are ministries raised up to help those in the "wilderness of divine love."
The question becomes, when the costs of love become the sum of the fruit we see in our lives and in the church, what are we ever to do further? More love only produces more costs. And there is only so far we can go in paying the price of divine love.
Where is the Sufficiency?
This question is really versed by Paul through these words: "Who is sufficient for these things?" (II Cor. 2:16)
The Lord's answer to this question is this:
No one is sufficient for these things.
In other words, our love for the Lord proven through our endurance is not sufficient to bear the weight of the costs of that love. Again and more simply, our love cannot bear the costs of our love.
Rather, the Lord must bring us to a point of realizing it is HIS Love for us that is alone sufficient for bearing the costs of our love for Him. Again and more simply, His love is sufficient for bearing the costs of our love for Him.
And thus is Paul's answer versed: "Our sufficiency is of God" (II Cor. 3:5)
As disciples, we are so used and committed to the concept of proving love through obedience, that we come to the place where the only love we know is our love for the Lord. But as seen already, our love only evinces more costs. And so this cycle of going from "cost to cost" rather than from "glory to glory" is set up in our lives. Our love for the Lord---through more prayer, worship and faithful action---leads us through a downward spiral to the bottom of a well we can't get out of.
Here, at the bottom of this well of divine love, we have to see that only HIS love for us can actually bear the weight of the costs of our love for Him, and convert those costs into the rewards and longed for fruit of divine love---righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, and productivity in life, in relationship and in the church.
We must accept the fact that we can do nothing about the costs of love. They are inevitable and cannot be avoided. They have been promised to us.
But upon encountering those costs, we have the choice as to where we will look for their payment. Will we look to further sufficiency of our obedience to Him, or will we look to the sufficiency of His love for us?
Paul asks what is there that is capable of separating us from the love of God? And he produces a laundry list of the costs of that love:
Rom. 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
His answer is that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. But the reason that is possible is because it is "the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"(8:39) that is able to bear the weight of those costs. Again, the sufficiency of divine love is in His love for us.
For each of the items listed by Paul in 8:35, we may substitute anything from the lists given above in this article:
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will fear, or misunderstanding, or rejection, or division, or isolation, or mental and emotional constriction and paralysis?
It is the sufficiency of His love for us, not our love for Him, that is able to prevent us from being separated from His love by the costs associated with our love. As He Himself has oft said to us, "My grace is sufficient for you." In this word, we want to see that His grace is in His love.
A Turning Point in Love's Perspective
This message is a significant turning point for me right now in my walk and experience in the Lord. It has been a long road. I have not seen the fruit I want to see for the prices of love I have borne. I have only seen more prices to be borne.
But out of the mounting prices, I am being shown how to turn my heart away from my love for Him and toward His love for me and for the body of Christ at large. Only His love is sufficient to pay all the prices of all the love that has been poured out in obedience to His truth by so many which has yielded an age long dividing and scattering of God's people from one another...
(- So many well-meaning people seeking obedience to the Lord throughout history who have been unable to unite due to faithfulness to that obedience. One man's obedience being another man's unbelief, every man believing he is "doing God's service." Only His love for the church is sufficient to redeem this sorry mess we call the Church Age.)
Recently, I have been endeavoring to embrace and give thanks for tribulation. But the journey proceeds past that. Today, amid extreme pressure, I want to embrace the sufficiency of His love for me to cover the costs I have had to bear on the road of loving Him and which love this ministry has sought to impart to the church.
Amid the tribulation then---the fear, the insecurity, the isolation, the rejection, the separations, the constriction, the paralysis---all evoked by our love---let's turn to the sufficiency of His love and see what happens. At the bent of every thought related to these "fightings without and fears within," let's give up on the sufficiency of our love and turn toward the sufficiency of His love, and see what happens.
I think we might just begin to see some miracles. ..
New Meadow Neck, RI
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship