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Food for Thought: The Supernatural Power of Love

From the Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible’s General Introduction by The General Editors (Gayle Beebe, Richard Foster, Llynda Graybeal, Thomas Oden and Dallas Willard):
Jesus founded on earth a new type of community, and in it and through him love—God-given agape love—came down to live with power on earth. Now, it is this God-given agape love that transforms our lives and gives us true spiritual substance as persons. Suppose, then, we simply agreed that the proper outcome of studying the Bible is growth in the supernatural power of love, the love of God and of all people.

We could call this the 1 Corinthians 13 Test: “If I . . . understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (v 2). And so the test of whether we have really gotten the point of the Bible would then be the quality of love we show. Knowledge of the Bible and its teachings would, of course, continue to be of great value, but only insofar as it leads to greater love: to greater appropriation of God’s love for us and to greater love on our part for God, others, and ourselves.

When we turn to Scripture in this way our reason for “knowing” the Bible and everything it teaches would be that we might love more and know more of love. We would experience this love not as an abstraction, but as a practical reality by which we are possessed. And since all those who love through and through obey the law, we would become ever more obedient to Jesus Christ and his Abba.

Regarding the Bible, then, perhaps the most basic question is: Shall we try to control the Bible, that is, try to make it “come out right,” or shall we simply seek to release its life into our lives and our world? Shall we try to “tilt” it this way or that, or shall we give it complete freedom to “tilt” us as it will?

Can we surrender freely to the life we see in the Bible, or must we remain in control of that life, only selectively endorsing it when we find it proper and safe from our “perspective”? Can we trust the living water that flows from Christ through the Bible, open ourselves to it and release it into the world as best we can, and then get out of its way? This, we believe, is the only worthy goal for a study of the Bible.

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