Saturday, April 25, 2009

More than a Feeling

Getting ready to speak on 1 Peter 1:13 - 2:3, I've been amazed at a little tidbit that I won't have time to explore much in the sermon. It's that love is "more than a feeling" as the song title of the 80's megagroup Boston describes.

Love and indeed desires grow, organically and inevitably, from a changed heart. That much I'm used to reading in the New Testament. It can't be forced by me.

Yet alongside these very clear images are commands to love, and even a command to desire something appears in 1 Peter! That is very counter our cultural view of love in America in the early 21st century. It's even counter some (according to the New Testament, apparently counterfeit) versions of Christianity out there.

The same passage gives the sense that there is unselfconscious activity, growing naturally from a relationship with God (a loving Father we seek to please and emulate, a loving Saviour whose kindness fires our hearts to serve Him, etc.); and alongside this, also the clear command to love, and to have new desires.

Gosh, love is commanded. More than a feeling. And feelings (or at least desires) are commanded, too! Certainly something outside of a person must be at work to make this true -- it cannot possibly be self-generated.

The only similar thing that comes to mind is teaching novice crews how to row. I had to command from the outside something that would become second nature to them. They lacked a vision for what was possible, because in their pre-rowing state, they did not consider certain movements to be normal. A fresh word consistently applied from outside was required to make the new thing endure. And more often than not, it was necessarily to physically move the rowers shoulders, hands, back, etc.

What do you think? Or am I in the clouds here?

My favourite version of Boston's "More than a Feeling" is the Scrubs lip-sync band, check it out here.

photo: Reuters, of Chris Nilsson, coach of the Cambridge University Boat Club.