Sunday, April 1, 2012

Loving the Temporary

The other day John Piper tweeted something of the effect of,” It is difficult to fall in love with that which is temporary.” As with reading many of Piper’s quotes, my thoughts were stimulated as I took a moment to think through his implications and how it applies to my own life. After reading Piper’s quote, I have been thinking about its application in various life circumstances: material items, relationships, marriage, work, attitudes.
Some of you know that I tend to be conscious of the use of extremes. “Oh I looooove pumpkin spice lattes.” “I. Love. Board games.” Or even “My parents yell at me every day” and “I used to go to LAX all the time.” Really? You love a cup of espresso? And did you live at LAX? I used to respond to my students with “Really? You love it? Like, you would die for it?” About 8 years I met a fellow camp counselor who told me about his commitment to using the word love quite selectively--that he uses it only in referring to his wife, his children, and God. His purpose was to make the word love more meaningful. I took the challenge and quickly reaped the understanding of (1) how precious the word love really is, and (2) how lazy we have become with our speech.
After reading Piper’s tweet, my first thought was how it applies to the general worldview. According to the Scriptures, our life on earth is only temporary (James 4). Jesus explicitly states to store up one’s treasures in heaven (Matthew 7). Ergo, if one loves God, he cannot also love the world. Not of this World is a contemporary design label, and this is what they are advertising. Eventually, the Christian’s love for God and longing for heaven far surpasses anything this world has to offer.
I have thought about this dichotomy in relation to committing the next two years of service to Jamaica. One of Peace Corps’ mantras is that a volunteer’s service will be “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I was thinking about that in conjunction with falling in love with one’s country of service. In Africa, I constantly felt guilty for not loving The Gambia or my work there. However, I am thoroughly enjoying time in Jamaica and anticipate a particularly happy service. But do I love it? ‘Tis only temporary.
Perhaps the difference between really liking and absolutely loving something has parallels with the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can be taken away; it is circumstantial. Joy is a constant. It is the gift that gets us through the particularly unhappy times. Liking something is temporary. Our emotions are fickle and finite. Love is eternal, and it does not end. I’m still thinking through loving various people, things, and circumstances. I’ve come to the conclusion that we first we must understand our ability to love, and where love comes from. But for now, I’m working on loving the things of eternity.

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