More Jacques Ellul (pg 129)

” ‘Remember from what you have fallen.’ Because love is union itself with God for the love of God. The works are of value only if they are the fruit of love itself working in us. They have no other value, no intrinsic value, not even the practice of justice or purity… The Lord does not put out the flame but changes the place of the lampstand; which is to say that the flame of truth and love is given to someone else. From that time this church will remain a church apparently alive but in reality empty. To us, it would seem that Jesus Christ is interested in keeping a solid, orthodox church, long at this place, in her place. Not at all! He is prepared to let her fall because the only thing that matters is that the Church keep the love of God. Better to cease having a church than to have a church of traditions, of good works, of institution without the love of God….The task then is to find again the first works, which is to say those that emanate directly, spontaneously, from love, those which were a beautiful ripe fruit, and not a difficult duty. It is a matter then of no longer putting her own works in the place of God.”

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3 responses

  1. Now if we pair this with your earleir comments on love/hate — then the love in us that flows form God is not so much an interior (i.e., emotional) attitude so much as a descriptor of social engagement. To love is to be involved in a God led way? Am I getting this right?Its not yet 7AM here and I haven’t had my caffeine fix.

  2. [Yay–One can edit these by copying the old, delelting it, reposting with corrections!]The earlier Bruce Malina quote was about how someone would interpret the word “hate” in the ancient Mediterranean culture this was originally addressed to. Jacques Ellul was using the word “love” in a different context, ie the group’s love towards God, the mutual love within the group being quite another matter, although surely connected in their minds–while their involvement with the larger society (from which they are probably quite alienated) something else again.I would expect true love of God to break down boundaries separating the church from nonmembers, but those boundaries–the downside of strong cohesion within the group–may have been part of what attracted people to churches in John’s day.In our modern context, I have to see this as a roots-&-fruits issue, with the social involvement [external ‘love’] following from the love [internal sense] that makes it possible for us to seek and follow God’s leadings.When we talk about the kind of love we approve of between human beings, we don’t think much of the needy aspects. But being able to love is itself a gift; we are only able to love God to the extent that we have received this gift.When a religious institution “loses its first love”–as all of them seem to do–this can’t mean that God no longer loves them. What, then? The intensity of that first love is too hard for us to carry for long? Or does our yearning to keep that same love close us off from what it develops into?

  3. It bothers me that so many people make an idol of their church (or meeting). It’s just an insitution, to be used like any other. Sometimes it may need to be laid down. The Spirit is perfectly free and not bound to any institution; he’s only interested in our hearts.There are many kinds of love (of God and others):”Seek Love in the Pity of others WoeIn the gentle relief of anothers care In the darkness of night & the winters snowIn the naked & outcast Seek Love there. (Blake)

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