So I’m embarassed as I recount and write… Let me tell you why – and trust me, this isn’t easy but I’m gonna spell it out anyway. I have a habit of being very expressive with my emotions – if i’m irritated or irked or impatient you know it.. Likewise if I’m happy and feeling sentimental or attached you know it too. When i write to close friends I tend to finish off with lots of love or ‘love ya’. If it’s a guy there is often a buddy or mate attached with it. A number of friends (males and females) do that with me too – and it’s all beautiful. However, recently it dawned on me that one particular friend – a guy – overseas hasn’t replied my emails. I only email him once a year and that on his birthday to wish, and I generally get a mate or buddy reply.. and I recall the previous year I had wrapped up with love ya mate or something like that. I also realised that people closely connected to him have been ignoring me too.. Now it makes sense, this must have been misinterpreted to be hitting on him. Ouch, this is embarassing!
Misunderstanding friendliness isn’t rare sadly. I recall a time when I was wailing a lot as many were making false judgments based on appearances. One lady was discipling me at the time – I was a new Christian, and her sister who hadn’t met me was miles and miles away. This sister hadn’t known about my weeping and had one day felt really low to the point of weeping and couldn’t understand why! God had shown her me and had told her that I had a pure heart. Of course the word was passed on to me and I was totally encouraged and grateful that God does see! Reminds me of Hagar!
Looking back I realised the word was also intended by God to be given to my friend as a word of precaution that my heart is pure. It didn’t dawn on her then obviously and I doubt it has now as she has ignored me for many years. This latest ’embarassing’ emotional slip of mine must have been misunderstood and taken as further proof of their ‘judgment’.
Fact is, I grew up with brothers and their friends, and I studied with guys and worked with men having been in the male dominant fields. I’m used to being one of the guys and fitting in that way – but I guess to those looking from the outside who haven’t had this kind of exposure can’t understand pure platonic friendship (and that it does indeed exist).
It brings me back to the word LOVE! I often wish that the English language could have terms of love like in Greek – Phileo (friendly love), Eros (sexual love for married couples), Agape (God’s love) etc. (Would all this dilemma and misinterpretations exist if the clarifying terms of love were there?) However, we are stuck with one word – LOVE. And thus the 2 greatest commandments are centred around LOVE. (or was God saying the wrong thing and thus should HE be the one to be corrected?)
Why do people get so paranoid about this term LOVE? It’s almost a term of fear! Why do you think the Bible doesn’t use the word LIKE one another? Like isn’t self-less, and not as intensive a word as love. Like isn’t sacrificial, like is on the surface…
I watch little children who don’t think through their head but reach out to one another. They will embrace and they trust easily… Prejudices are not readily formed at this age (unless their parents have been quick to drill it in at an early age). Jesus wants us to be like little children, to trust in Him, have that faith, and have that love towards one another… a love that is pure, a love that is LOVE as in obeying what God is saying not shrinking off based on worldly interpretations. A love that doesn’t judge but discerns as God leads to discern, not based on our earthly wisdom and minds.
Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He chose her out of all the people of that village.. and He gave the good news to her… She was a woman who was living with a man. Some describe her as the sinful woman at the well but Jesus never did. There is a possibility – given the cultural settings – that she may have lived with the man as when she looked for commitment men divorced her. Perhaps she was barren and that is one major reason at that time why men would divorce a woman. Perhaps she was orphaned and needed a male ‘guardian’ for survival and if no one would stay married to her because she was barren, maybe she decided that living with a man was the only option she had. Maybe her heart wasn’t driven out of lust but out of desperation. Jesus would have seen into her heart and understood her situations – even though we can’t! Yes the above is a speculation as not outlined in the Bible but that was something our Christian Ethics lecturer Dr David Greenlee raised for our thinking.. and God did convict me of my narrow mindedness and prejudices. God sees the whole picture, the purpose, the acts, the motives of the heart – much more than we do. And sometimes we approach a situation with a closed mind so we don’t truly hear people out or even if we do, we don’t believe them because we use the same measures or same values that we ourselves operate with. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks right?
So what am I thinking now?
I’m God’s vessel – a vessel of love! If people want to misunderstand, at this point after reflection, I will resolve to think that’s their wish, that’s their life and if they want to judge me, let them. My desire is to obey God’s Word out of a pure heart.. and God sees my heart. I believe I’m called to L-O-V-E. Yup that strong word to me is a pure beautiful word.. and when I tell you I love you, I’m not using Agape or Eros, I’m using Phileo. Or should I say I phileo love ya.
My desire is to be pure at heart always..
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God – Matthew 5:8
And I ask God to help me stay pure in heart, not to be tainted by the way the world thinks or the way my natural mind will think but in every action to live with childlike faith and be led by the Holy Spirit. This has been and will continue to be my prayer!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things – Philippians 4:8
I wonder what will happen if we all did indeed focus on such things and stand up against the stuff that God lays on our hearts, not what we perceive or decide with our minds! Will we have more time and energy for the things of God then, for what matters?