Two Types of Love

I’ve been thinking, lately, about some of the ways God loves us. There are many ways He loves us, but I’ve primarily been meditating on what Erich Fromm calls “mother love” and “father love.” Either gender can display mother love or father love and we need both to develop and mature.

Mother love is unconditional, Father love is conditional. Mother love says “you are bone of my bone and I will love you no matter what.” Father loves says “you must earn my love and respect.” Mother love provides us with a secure base and Father love calls us to greater heights of character.

At first blush, Mother love seems superior. It is warm, gentle and caring. It coos and coddles and makes us feel invincible. This is the love of God that we hear most about in church. It comforts us and lets us know that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us. Mother love tells us a great deal about the “mother” and very little about the “child.” The child might be a rotten little brat, but the mother loves them anyway because she is gracious, kind, merciful and compassionate.

But Father love, conditional love, is also invaluable in the development of a child. Father love sets up a standard that must be achieved before love is offered. This is quite reminiscent of the Old Testament. Father love says “you are my child and I expect this sort of behavior from you.” The Father sets the bar of righteousness that the children are then expected to live up to. Though it may initially seem harsh, acquiring Father love is one of the most satisfying experiences in life for it bestows on the child identity purpose and value. No longer is the child loved simply because their mother is a grand old lady. They are now loved because they are worth something, they have value, something to offer. Humans crave this sort of affection and will go to great lengths to acquire it, which is precisely the point. Humans can achieve seemingly impossible standards of morality, righteousness or physical skill in the effort to win love. Father love calls out the best in the child.

There is much more to say, but this seems a sufficient introduction to a topic I’m sure I will write more about. Thanks for reading.

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The Power of Words

My wife and I frequently talk about the power of words – among ourselves and with our friends, family and congregation. Specifically, we talk about the power of words and their ability to create atmosphere/Reality. I’d like to share some of our insights here today.

We are made in the image of God and should speak as though speaking the words of God. We know that God is Creator, therefore, we are creative. How did God create the world? Through words. How do we create our world (reality, day-to-day existence)? Through our words. Creative power still rings through human words and carries with it the ability to shape our environment – inside and out.

How we talk about ourselves and others is immensely important. People have an uncanny ability to live up or down to the standards set for them. “You reap what you sow” is especially true with words. Do you sow words of anger or fear? Then don’t be surprised if you and the people who interact with you are angry and afraid. On the contrary, if you sow words of love, comfort, peace and joy you will find those same things returned to you in the words and actions of others.

James compares words (the tongue) to the rudder of a ship. Though the rudder is small, it directs the boat along its course. Similarly, we will align ourselves internally and externally to the words we speak most often, for they will chart our course through life. As an example, I had to break with the habit of criticizing myself as a teacher and start proclaiming the opposite. The internal litany of accusation mounted loads of apprehension and fear upon me as I struggled to prepare my weekly message. I had to repent (change my course) and start sailing in a new direction, using the personal promises of God as my guide. I am in the process of aligning myself with His words about me and it has helped tremendously. I no longer dread my weekly prep time and things are getting better all the time.

We never want to partner with the devil in how we see ourselves and others. The devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy; to accuse and condemn; and to promote fear and anger. If we come into agreement with how he views people and voice his opinions, there is tremendous potential for harm. However, if we come into agreement with how GOD sees people and start voicing HIS opinions, then there is great potential for gain, healing and deliverance. Gold glitters in the sun, but is buried beneath loads of dirt. Our work is to dig for the gold in people and bring it into the light of God’s Truth, not to get sidetracked with how much dirt there is. Call out the best, let Holy Spirit worry ’bout the rest.

If we are to succeed in our goal of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, of being lifegivers, light and salt, then we will need to practice speaking God’s words and restraining our own. We need to come into agreement with God and hold up Heaven as our standard – binding what is bound in heaven and loosing what is loosed in heaven. Life or death is in the tongue depending on how we use it. We have been entrusted with the amazing power to create through words, let us use it thoughtfully, intentionally and for the good of those around us.