Love and Judgement

Rocked, cont’d: On 1 Corinthians 13

I have been thinking a lot about love recently, all the different kinds of it. They are all hard and confusing, friendship, romance, family etc… but I find it hardest to grasp the idea of unconditional, humble and self-sacrificing love, i.e. the one Jesus came and showed us in a terrible and gruesome way, the ‘great’ love (that one should lay down his life for his friends).

‘I am nothing’ – How often do my outward and hypocritical, my reluctant and grumbling, gestures of ‘love’ end up useless because they really are just gestures? There is no heart or genuine compassion behind so many of the things I do. Too often they are the result of peer/cultural pressure, a desire to be right or look good. Do my actions just add to the cacophony, the meaningless noise that fills the social order of our world?

‘Love is’ – I am deeply convicted about the ways my actions so seldom conform to that list of love’s characteristics. I also realize that my ideas of love often include the facets of ‘bearing’ and ‘enduring’, but fall short of ‘hoping’ all things. I am curious about what it means to love others in a way that hopes for them, that believes and has faith that God has prepared a place for them as much as he has for me, that they aren’t just there as training tools for my personal growth.

‘Love never ends’ – I can see clearly how often I pass up the chance, or make excuses to not really stop and love a person. I know how much time I spend trying to understand love and God and people but, according to this chapter, all this will pass away. If I read this rightly, when I stand before God, all the knowledge and understanding I have built up on this earth will seem laughably small, incomplete and naive. The partial, the childish will fall away and what will remain? What will be left when the tatters of togetherness fall away and I stand naked before Him? What love will remain?

‘but then face to face’ – I will look into His eyes. Then I will know, I will know fully what he has saved me from and what he has saved me for. I will know Him, even as I have been fully known. In comparison, the deepest and most intimate experience of Him that I have ever had on this earth, will seem to have been from afar, as if through a fog, or in a dimly lit room.

‘the greatest of these is love.’ – I am always asking Him to teach me how to love. Lord, how do I love this person? What does love look like in this situation? Only recently have I begun to realize that these are the wrong questions.

I don’t need to know how to love. I need to know Love, Himself. I need to be in Love.

Judgement: Fully Known

Our ancestors had a habit of using the word “Judgment” in this context as if it meant simply “punishment”: hence the popular expression, “It’s a judgment on him.” I believe we can sometimes render the thing more vivid to ourselves by taking judgment in a stricter sense: not as the sentence or award, but as the Verdict. Some day (and “What if this present were the world’s last night?”) an absolutely correct verdict—if you like, a perfect critique—will be passed on what each of us is.

We have all encountered judgments or verdicts on ourselves in this life. Every now and then we discover what our fellow creatures really think of us. I don’t of course mean what they tell us to our faces: that we usually have to discount. I am thinking of what we sometimes overhear by accident or of the opinions about us which our neighbours or employees or subordinates unknowingly reveal in their actions: and of the terrible, or lovely, judgments artlessly betrayed by children or even animals. Such discoveries can be the bitterest or sweetest experiences we have. But of course both the bitter and the sweet are limited by our doubt as to the wisdom of those who judge. We always hope that those who so clearly think us cowards or bullies are ignorant and malicious; we always fear that those who trust us or admire us are misled by partiality. I suppose the experience of the Final Judgment (which may break in upon us at any moment) will be like these little experiences, but magnified to the Nth.

For it will be infallible judgment If it is favorable we shall have no fear, if unfavorable, no hope, that it is wrong. We shall not only believe, we shall know, know beyond doubt in every fibre of our appalled or delighted being, that as the Judge has said, so we are: neither more nor less nor other. We shall perhaps even realise that in some dim fashion we could have known it all along. We shall know and all creation will know too: our ancestors, our parents, our wives or husbands, our children. The unanswerable and (by then) self-evident truth about each will be known to all.

I do no find that pictures of physical catastrophe—that sign in the clouds, those heavens rolled up like a scroll—help one so much as the naked idea of Judgment. We cannot always be excited. We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more often how the thing which we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this world—and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account. Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.

– from The World’s Last Night, C.S. Lewis

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~ by justinhong on January 1, 2011.

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