For Each Tree Is Known by Its Own Fruit

re-1After reading the foreword, I did not foresee that each discourse would be so packed. I imagined short discourses that would focus on one area of how love is displayed through our actions. Instead, I found the first reflection to be much more in depth than I expected. The first discourse was on love’s fruit and how it can be recognized. However, the piece did not only compare love to a tree that yields fruit but it addressed subjects such as hypocrisy and deception and how they are an obstacle to love yielding its proper fruit. Within the discourse, there were a few passages that I found to be the most revealing–at least personally.

I have had many conversation about short-term mission trips with my roommate. We always say what we think and comment on what we have seen and the experiences we have had with such trips, but we are always left with one question: is it really for the good of others, or is it for our own good? There was a passage in the first discourse that quickly reminded me of said conversations:

“There are, indeed, acts which in a special sense are called works of love. But, in truth, because one makes charitable contributions, because he visits the widow and clothes the naked–his love is not necessarily demonstrated or made recognizable by such deeds, for one can perform works of love in an unloving, yes, even in a self-loving way, and when this is so, the works of love are nevertheless not the work of love” (30).

It makes me ask myself, when I think I do something for the good of others, is it them that I truly have in mind or am I acting to make myself feel better, look better?

Now, the second passage that called me to reflect further read,

“For the divine authority of the Gospel speaks not to one man about another man, not to you, the reader, about me, or to me about you–no, when the gospel speaks it speaks to the single individual. It does not speak about us men, you and me, but it speaks to us men, you and me, and it speaks about the requirement that love shall be known by its fruits” (31).

How many times have I judged others’ actions by placing them as self-loving, as opposed to seeking the good will of others? Perhaps, I should stop wondering about people and short-term mission trips. Maybe I should let them carry on with their action and let the Gospel speak to the single individual.

There is one last passage I want to leave with you to ponder on: “To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity” (23-24).

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Journeying into Love

works of loveA few months ago, I began going with Mercy to Barnes & Noble to study. Every time I would give myself a break after finishing an assignment and would wander from aisle to aisle while admiring the books. One afternoon, I walked through the Philosophy section and grabbed a book title Works of Love. I read the review and was tempted to buy the book, but when I looked at the price decided to place it back in its shelf. However, my mind changed after a few visits and I decided to spoil myself, so I bought the book.

It was not until yesterday, however, that I was able to begin reading Kierkegaard’s piece. I read the foreword, translators’ introduction, author’s preface, and prayer–then I stopped. There were two things that kept me from reading ahead: something mentioned by the author of the foreword (George Pattison), and something mentioned by Kierkegaard.

First, Pattison suggest a way in which we ought to read the Kierkegaard’s discourses: “Although…there is often a clear link between one discourse and the next, each is a self-sufficient entity that it can be read and appreciated on its own. We are not to finish one and hurry on to the next, but are to consider how each can be made fruitful in its own terms” (xvi).

Second, Kierkegaard writes in his own preface: “These are Christian reflections; therefore they are not about love but about the works of love” (xxvii).

These two statements make me both excited and afraid to read the reflections. Works of Love refer to my actions as a Christian, as a product of the love in me, as a reflection of Christ who lives in me. I am afraid to continue reading and find that my actions are not the fruit produced by God’s love in me. I’m afraid I will find that I have not been a good enough neighbor, friend, daughter. Nonetheless, I am anxious to read on and be illuminated. I am anxious to know  if my actions have not been the fruit of love, for if it is so, then I will be challenged and changed.

Additionally, Pattison’s statement calls me to take time and think about each reflection read. As a form of reflection I will write, blog; And hopefully invite anyone who reads this to be illuminated and transformed along with me.

God’s Sovereignty

Lately, I have been reading some stuff by Abraham Kuyper. The book I’m currently reading focuses more on his idea of common grace in science and the arts, but it also touches slightly on his idea of sphere sovereignty. Now, there is a sweet and short introduction to this book that briefly explains Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty:” “from God’s sovereignty there derives more discrete sovereign ‘spheres’ such as the state, business, the family, and the church… Sphere sovereignty describes a pluralism of both social structures and world views and is one prominent feature in Kuyper’s approach to public life” (Wisdom and Wonder, 2011, p. 24-25).

Last night, during Bible Study, we looked at chapter 9 of Romans–God’s sovereignty, best known as predestination. After going through the chapter with the girls that came, we had a discussion. There is one girl who usually talks, but while she pulled a personal application of the chapter, her voice began to sound shaky and her lips began quivering. I looked over and thought she was on the verge of tears. Then she mentioned how overwhelmed she was by the fact that accepting God’s sovereignty also means accepting that God is present in every area of life.

Today, there have been small occurrences that have made me attune to this teaching. My small revelation for the day has been that God’s sovereignty is present in each one of our lives in a way that is not oppressing, but in a way that offers grace and mercy to humanity (which, if you want to know more about, please read Romans 9).

Lastly, someone saw me reading the book and asked me why I was reading it. I told them that I recognized the author’s last name from some history class in high school; so, I picked it up. Then, she asked me if I was sure that’s how the name was pronounced. I realized I wasn’t sure, so I decided to look. I found confirmation in this awesome video–on one theologian from another theologian.

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8B1A7oPe-8