“we are moons, not stars”
Last year, Tim Cain spoke at one of our church retreats. I wasn’t able to be there, but I downloaded his talks online. I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve been changed by what he had to say. It’s about 4 hours of audio and will be totally worth your time. Download these talks and listen to them as you run, write, eat, etc.! They will help you love Jesus better! 🙂 After you’ve clicked the hyperlink, scroll towards the bottom of the page and click the links under “2008 Young Adult Fall Retreat Audio” (Tim Cain).
In the last session, Tim talked about love. The word “love” has been so hijacked and misinterpreted in our culture that Tim spent a large majority of his talk showing how the Bible defines “love”, and how we have so many false ideas about the concept. When we hear the word “love”, we immediately think of romantic relationships in which two people are smitten with each other. We think of a fickle feeling that rises and falls. We think it’s OK to stop “loving” when we no longer “feel it.” But the concept of love in the Bible has nothing to do with circumstance or human emotion.
Tim said that “we are moons, not stars.” Here’s the analogy he used. God is like the sun, and His love radiates throughout the universe. We are moons in the universe, and His love radiates off of us and on to other people, in the same way that light from the sun is reflected by moons. The world tries to live like stars. In other words, worldly people try to manufacture love from within themselves, just as stars generate their own heat and light. The problem is that humans are sinful. Our tendency is to quit “loving” from within as soon as the going gets tough (i.e., our friends are having a rough day, our brother says something mean to us, we feel that our parents are being unfair, we don’t “feel it” anymore). “Star-like love” is really no love at all, because it is temporal and fickle.
Those who have been born of God are characterized by and called to “moon-like love” (1 John 4:7). That is, a Christian’s love doesn’t come from themselves. The life and love of a Christian is a reflection of the perfect love that Jesus demonstrated for us when He d.i.e.d on the cross to pay the penalty that we deserved to pay because of our sin. When we remember the gospel, when we ask Him to shine His love through us to other people, rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will love people the way Christ loved His people: unconditionally and with no strings attached. Circumstancial, emotions-based love is not from God.
This challenged me to examine my life. Am I characterized by moon-like love, or am I trying to work these things in myself? Is my love for another person affected by circumstance or emotion, or is it driven by a desire for them to see Jesus and be infinitely satisfied with Him alone? Do I remember the gospel and love its truth so much that my relationships with other people are changed?
I want the world to see that I have been born of God and love God because of the way I love other people. Whether I know you very well or not, I want to love you better with the love of Christ because of the gospel!