Monday, July 12, 2010

No Ordinary Love

When they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60

Today’s Reading: Job 3-4; Acts 7:44-60

Man… Stephen was a G.

Yes, his speech was impressive. His knowledge was keen; but that wasn’t the most impressive part. He literally turned the other cheek as stones were flying at it.

That’s no ordinary love.

And yes, love it is. I don’t know what else it could be. What else is irrationally powerful enough to inspire someone to ask God to forgive the very people who are actively killing him?

Love is the only thing that powerful.

I just finished reading this book called “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis. In it he talks about what he identifies as the four kinds of love: Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity. Affection is a need based love, like the love that a child has for their mother. Friendship is the love shared by two people who chose to share some aspect of their lives together in a non-romantic way. Eros is romantic love that often includes expression in sexuality.

But Charity is very different. Charity is God based love. It is not based in our needs, thoughts and desires as the other three are. On the contrary, it is based on our connection to something higher.

It is fueled by God.

He uses this analogy of a garden. The three human loves are the trees and flowers and bushes, and charity is the gardener who keeps the beautiful garden in order. It prunes and cuts away so that the garden can flourish and grow.

Without this God love, he argues, the other loves cannot stand on their own for long.

He makes some really great points and of course, as with any argument, there are positions to be challenged and debated.

But, when I look at this story of Stephen, a man who so loved his killers that he spent his last breaths praying for their forgiveness… I am convinced that there is something special about the love required to take that action.

I don’t believe we can love this way on our own.

Our history is filled with such heroes; people who have dedicated their lives (and lost their lives in the process) to the betterment of mankind. I don’t know how someone decides to do that. And even if they decided so, I don’t know how they continue on and carry out the task till the end.

Maybe these folks are capable of loving more than me but I don’t really believe that to be true.

I believe that they had help, divine help, which enabled them to walk that path.

And just like Stephen they made the world a better place. That, in and of itself, is more than worth the sacrifices they suffered. 


  1. It seems charity would require a selflessness most of us don't have. How many of us are willing to sacrifice our acts of personal satisfaction for the betterment of "the garden" all of the time? Caring for a garden doesn't mean you simply "turn the other cheek", as you said, its about nurturing the garden so it can flourish and grow.

    Carrying a great love is far easier a task in comparison to nurturing something to strive to keep growing. Love can be carried in your mind and heart. The "acts" of loving and nurturing are in your actions. Doing and maintaining the actions is always the hard part. Especially when those actions my not be "personally satisfying" but are what's best for "the garden."

  2. @Alegria,

    Maybe I wasn't clear... the charity/God love is the gardener. It is this connnection to God's love that fuels the other loves, providing the pruning and nuturing for them to grow.

    The turning the other cheek in this example is the ultimate expression of this charity love. While getting stoned dude appealed to God on their behalf. That's a high level of love... something I have never personally seen.

    I think maybe you misunderstood me. no?

  3. Your response did make things clearer.

    I guess I'm saying the charity type of love in my opinion is that love that does what is necessary to benefit the garden sometimes without any personal benefit. This is quite the difficult task to do for people who are throwing stones at you. Kinda like the whole Jesus saga.

    I.e., in working towards the benefit of the whole, ultimately you benefit yourself, because you are part of the whole.

  4. @Alegria Yes that's exactly what it is.

  5. Interestingly, just today as I was reading Max Lucado's "Fearless." He talked about C.S. Lewis and how for many years he was an atheist - a devote one, it seems. Reminds us to sow seeds and share God stories whenever we can. Who knows, perhaps we can lead someone as ultimately renowned as C.S. Lewis to the faith.


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