Sunday Patrick and Ezekiel Fajenyo
Love is one word that is very much misunderstood or limited in daily use. To many people it is the experience of shared responsibilities or common interest between two or more people. To some other is serves the same purpose as infatuations, affection and feelings of familiarity. Of course types of love such as agape, phiko, eros, storge, etc. have been commented on through recorded time in the scriptures and literature, psychology, medicine etc.
Love is the fact, all embracing, and not limited to self but every sequent of humanity. Its creates distance from all obscenities and abnormalities; it has power of renewal and charges one’s spiritual battery. It is recommended by God and draws one closer to Him.
Love has to do with good neighbourliness built on understanding, fellow feeling, reliable relationship, and spirit of forgiveness; love is creative and innovative and rooted in the receptivity of the vast mind. It is the opposite of hatred, envy, troubles, mischief, pains, misunderstanding, discontentment, harshness, discord, selfishness and myopic orientations. It is pure, noble, assured, positive, progressive, humane, and attractive. It is about beauty and the practice of same. God recommends it; Jesus practicalised it; the church is expected to share in its fulfillments; the human race should imbibe its ethics and aesthetics.
Jesus Christ emphasised how important it is that his followers express and show deep love for one another. He said to them: “I am giving you a new commandant, that you love one another ……..By this you will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves” (John 13:34-35). What the two expressions – one another and among yourselves” connote is that Christians should come together in one group. For it is written in the Book of Romans 12:25 and Ephesians 4:25 “just as there are many parts of our bodies, so it is with Christ body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So, we belong to each other and each other needs all the citizens”.
The identification of this group would therefore, be based on the love its members have for one another.
Surely, if a man does not love his fellow man, everything else is useless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
It would be recalled that the early Christians were persistently reminded to have affection for one another, welcome one another, slave for one another, be kind to one another, be tenderly compassionate, continue to put up with one another freely if anyone had a cause for complaint against another, forgiving one another, keep comforting one another, building one another up, be peaceable with one another, have intense love for one another (Roman 12:10;15:7; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; Peter 4:8 1 John 3:23; 4:7-11; Colossians 3:13-14:1, Thessalonians 5:11-13).
This does not imply that Christians are not required to shower unfettered love to non Christians. They are mandated to lover others as well. In fact, the Bible admonished all Christians to increase in love to one another and to all (Thessalonians 3:12;16:15) Apostle Paul had written in Galatians 6:10 “let love work what is good towards all but especially towards those related to us in faith” While Christians must therefore, love all including their enemies, they must especially love their fellow members of God association, their spiritual brothers and sisters (Matthew5:44) It is heartwarming, today, that despite the challenges of our existence or the vagaries of life, many Christians all over the world are well known for the love that they have for one another. according to the second century writer. Tertullian, “people would say of them, look how many they love one another , and how they are ready to die for one another:
Man’s Inclination To Do Wrong.
The imperfection of man is rooted from our original parents – Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12). And that explains why we are persistently inclined to doing wrong. The Holy Bible says in James 3:2; Romans 3:23 that “we all stumble many times”. Many Christians all over the world, despite their looking up to God’s promises and for mercy, they err persistently, consequently, eroding the virtue of love.
The problem between Apostle Paul and Barnabas clearly demonstrated such imperfection of man. The Bible says in Acts 13:13, “When they were about to leave on their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take along his cousin Mark. However, Paul did not want Mark along, since Mark had left them and gone home during their first missionary journey. The Bible says, “ At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other” (Acts 15:37-40). The anger expressed by the twosome would have questioned how true they loved each other.
Also worthy of note was the refusal by Apostle Peter to continue associating with the Gentiles because of the “fear of being viewed with disfavor by some of the Jewish Christians who were wrongly looking down on their Gentile brothers” (Galatians 2:11-14). Apostle Paul was furious when he saw what Peter was doing, He therefore, rebuked him in strong terms for such perceived misconduct, in the presence of the people that were present. Peter was calm as his looks showed (Hebrews12:11).
THE STRENGTH OF LOVE.
We are however, of the view that anger, like other negative attitudes of man, such as jealousy, hatred, mordant criticisms, falsehood, sadism, etc are innate, but could be curtailed when love is made to fully permeate all aspects of our lives. “Human love is but a shadow of God’s love” to quote Prophet T. B. Joshua.
Love can be used as a strong reason to solve most of human troubles. The Bible is fully replete with instances of this.
Peter was not bemused or flabbergasted when Paul condemned him in the presence of the people. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:8,9, that Peter was humble; he accepted the correction and did not allow it to cause his love for Paul to wane. Peter later referred to Paul in a letter of encouragement to fellow Christians, captured in 2Peter3:16 in the following words: “Consider the patience of our Lord as Salvation, just as our beloved Paul, according to the wisdom given him, also wrote you”.
Indeed Peter “allowed love to cover over the difficulty, which in this case had resulted from his own wrong conduct (Proverbs 10:12).
It was also love that settled the misunderstanding between Paul and Barnabus . When Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation, he graciously referred to Barnabus as a close fellow worker which clearly signified that he still loved him (1 Corinthians 9:5-6).
Albeit, Paul’s grudge over Mark’s involvement in the journey seemed justified , Paul later wrote to Timothy when he observed that Mark had become matured: “Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering” (2 Timothy 4:11).
These are just two instances. Basically, we have to take cognizance of the fact that God did not give us His conditions which must be fulfilled before He loves us. Therefore, our expression of love for our fellow man should not be anchored on some conditions which may be elusive. Anger and hatred, for instance, only serve to distance us from developing true Christian qualities, the greatest of which is love. Yet, they (anger and hatred) should be overshadowed by love.
The Bible says, “God recommends His own love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans5:8) we should therefore, be ready to follow that example of God and show love to those who do bad and foolish things.( Ephesians 5:1,2, Psalm 10:3-10).
Again, based on our imperfection, our lord Jesus Christ thought us not to be critical of our fellow men, saying that as others have faults, we also have. He therefore asked: “why do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the rafter in your own eyes. (Matthew 7:1-5). The need for us to always express mercy and forgiveness which are also rooted in love is very impressive.
Although, there are genuine complaints, the Bible counsels: “continue to put up with one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another” This is also necessary because Christ freely forgave us. And we have to forgive others if we have to receive his forgiveness, Jesus said: In Matthew 18:21, it is also written “God has forgiven us thousands of times so cannot we forgive our brothers a few times?
It is in fact ironical if we treat our fellow man in an unloving manner at the same time claim to be practicing the truth.
T.B Joshua’s Teaching on Love
We are very much impressed with the teachings of one of the greatest prophets of our time – with the gift of the garb and righteousness – Prophet T. B Joshua , particularly on the need for humanity to always express love, The teachings have redefined the perspective of our relationship with fellow humans and genuinely refocused our attention on the values of such relationship built on love. The prophet had said: There is nothing to compare to love, it is richer than any mineral and warmer that ant sun.
His broad metaphoric view of love are stated below:
“Love can make a king abdicate his throne, that is resign.”
“Love can make a poor boy, poor man, beggar become a prince”
“If spoken from the heart, nothing is as strong as love”
“Human love is but a shadow of God’s love”
“If God loves us, He will hide pride from us and keep us from being exalted above measures’
“God’s love will enable us to press on”
“God’s love centres in His will.”
“If man loves God truly, he is under obligation to love his fellow man”
“God’s love centres on His will. It is His will to give. It is our will to give back and also to receive the gift freely given. Knowing God’s love will enable us to press on till tomorrow. Nothing is stronger than love”.
“There are only three things on earth that will last- faith, hope and love. The greatest is love.
Since the greatest is love, we need to make the greatest sacrifice”.
“If you help your fellow brother, then you help Jesus”
“If you dupe your fellow brother, then you dupe Jesus”
“If you care for your fellow brother, then you care for Jesus”
“If you ignore your fellow brother, then you ignore Jesus”
“Whether you are educated or not, whether you are a farmer or not, whether you are a professor or not, there is hope in loving Jesus i.e loving others”
“If you can give your love, and somebody wants to stand against you, he stands against God”
“I learn to love everyone because love is the greatest Christian virtue and it Is the real nature of spirituality. If you want to know God, you must love yourself and others…..”
“Love cares more for others than for self”
“Love does not belittle anyone”
“Love does not force itself on others”
“Love puts up with anything, meaning that love is tolerant”
“Love looks around to see who is in need”
These statements clearly reflect the extent at which the Prophet considers love as the strought condition of humanity. And judged by his deep sense of commitment to human growth and development, practically reflected in his humanitarian services, the prophet holds that the greatest expression of love is giving. His words: “We should spend more on others and less on ourselves. This is the only way we can commit more faith and love in the society of which we are a part…..we begin to succeed with our lives when the hurt and problems of others begin to matter to us”
He had also elaborately affirmed that “Whatever our purpose may be, we should let love take precedence over all things. If we have all gifts without love, we are nothing. Love is patient___it does not express itself in anger. Love is goodness____it does not express itself in evil. Love is humble___it does not express itself in arrogance. Love is hope_____it does not express itself in despair and self-pity. Jesus wants to express Himself and carry out His mission of love to others through you. Thus giving becomes the very basis of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no love that does not express itself in giving. God so loved the world that He planted His best seed on the earth so that His peace might abide with men forever. The seed gave Himself up as a living sacrifice for our sake, to heal the broken hearted, give the captives freedom, comfort those who mourn, release the prisoners and defeat their enemies. What a great love! It is in our interest to show appreciation to the Seed on all occasions”
He had further stated that “ I am a solution to one’s problems. I am because you are”.
“No one is created without a gift. And such gift is meant to meet a need. How many lives have you capable of changing”, he asked.
While saying that “There are many people on the sick bed, visit them, pray for them and show compassion on them. That may be the solution to their problems; the prophet believes that love is a way of energising our spirituality and at the same time oiling our philanthropist. He has persistently, in the spirit of love, transformed many lives and permanently enriched them. For example, his ministry SCOAN, has always assisted the widows, widowers, the orphans the physically- challenged, the jobless youths, the indigents, students of secondary and high institution, etc. He has assisted many communities in the country, particularly those that have been neglected for decades and those that faced several disasters.
He gives scholarships to many students irrespective of where they come from A greater consideration is however, always accorded to the depraved, the blind ,the orphans, the deaf, the scholarly- imbued students who had performed excellently well in their studies; the prostitutes, armed robbers, militants who had indicated their interest in going to school or furthering their education etc.
His robust display of love is also glaring in the joyous way he assists the poverty -stricken men and women who troop to the church for financial assistance.
He also extends his giving spirit beyond the chores of the nation. The quick response of the ministry to the Haitian disaster the charity to the poor in Indonesia, the elderly in Pakistan and the elderly in Russia, are mere tips of the iceberg.
Aside all these, the permanent healings and deliverances carried out by the church are quite reflective of the love the SCOAN and the prophet have for humanity.
Today, the responses to such divine gestures have been very impressive, particularly when they are viewed against the backdrop of what the scripture demands of a true man of God.
It is our view that when the virtues of love are concretely understood (as marshalled by SCOAN and the prophet), and genuinely “operationalised the blessings of God will begin to enfold humanity.