I recently reread The Cure by Harry Kraus. I first read this one in 2008 and I just loved, loved, loved it! The focus of this one is LOVE. It is a call to greater, deeper love. It addresses our failure to love God, our failure to love ourselves, our failure to love our fellow Christians, our failure to love our neighbors, our failure to love our enemies. One thing should become abundantly clear to all readers, Kraus' definition of love is NOTHING like the world's definition of love, the common definition of love. He talks about what love, REAL LOVE, looks like. It is a practical book; it is a relevant book. If love seems to take precedence over the great commission--in terms of what is the GREATEST commandment, what is the most important thing for believers "to do" with their time, their service--it is because he feels strongly that without love, the purpose of the great commission is lost, is dampened. LOVE is what the world needs; LOVE as only Christ can give, give through our hands and feet.
The chapters include:
"The Greatest Commission"
"The Love-Shaped Void"
"A Controlling Passion"
"Loving Your Neighbor in Purple Pants"
"Can I Have A Drink of Water?"
"Failure to Thrive"
"Finally Loving Me"
"The Ultimate Test: Loving Our Enemies"
I believe if we as the body of Christ would focus as much attention on loving each other and loving our neighbors (and the rest of the love-starved world), we might just find the Great Commission occurring as naturally as smoke follows fire. Hand in hand. And maybe that was Jesus' point, after all. (28)
What Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century philosopher, said about their being a "God-shaped void" in every heart seems a little suspect to me. Okay, I know what his point was, and everyone may have a void that only God can fill, though they don't really know what they want. But truer than that is what I call a love-shaped void. The human heart is just made that way. And we know it. There's no mystery about what we want. Everyone wants to be loved. (33)
God loves us. This is an explosive, life-altering message. But how human to not believe it, or to allow our thoughts to cascade into a thousand other self-demeaning directions. How dare we call unlovely what he has loved with the price of the cross! Yes, God loves us--unconditionally, totally, genuinely. But his love is not a wispy or wimpy "Because I love you I will never hassle you about your behavior or call you to account for the ways you disobeyed me." His love demands that we admit our sinfulness, and yet also makes a way of forgiveness--the death of Jesus in our place. Sadly, we pay too little attention to this great love. (36)
If you understand God's love for you, really understand it, you will change the world. (40)
Why isn't the love of God the controlling passion of our lives? The answer has three parts, three possibilities. First, we don't know God. Second, we don't believe what we know. Third, someone or something has taken God's place. (47)
In order for God to be treasured for who he is, we have to know who he is. (47)
Spiritual anorexia, or lack of spiritual hunger, is common inside and outside the church today. (75)
How can we go weeks without opening our Bibles? Thousands of spiritually malnourished Christians limp into weekly services for their only feeding during a seven-day fast. They gorge for a few minutes (and it better not be more than twenty or thirty or the congregation won't tolerate it) each Sunday and starve the rest of the week. And yet this is starvation without a symptom. We just aren't hungry anymore. Where does this anorexia come from? (78)
Some of us need to remind our souls of the satisfaction of feasting on God and his Word to stimulate our appetites. The aroma of food to whet our appetites is like worship in that it prepares our hearts to receive God's Word. (78)
Our spiritual food must come from feasting on Christ himself, through a balanced consumption of every section of God's Word. (81)
The only true gospel says the cross is enough. (108)
Love expressed only when I perform well is wages. Love expressed when I'm behaving like a scoundrel is grace. And that becomes the foundation for transforming my heart to beat like his. I can begin to love others in spite of their behavior only when I understand that I am loved "just as I am, without one plea." (108)
A false gospel is anything I attempt to make myself acceptable to god outside of the cross, outside of or in addition to Christ's death for me as the only way to God. (119)
It's not just people with OCD who have trouble loving themselves. We all do. We're all made of the same stuff. For some reason, all of us struggle with this to some degree. There are several key reasons for our misery, and some of the same techniques that help the OCD patient refocus can help us all. What are the key elements of this problem, which has reached epidemic proportions within the church today? When I'm not loving myself, I'm not believing what God says about my identity. I'm looking only through my eyes, through human eyes, and not through the eyes of faith. God says I'm his child, that I'm redeemed, loved, forgiven, and free. At the point of our self-loathing, we're choosing to condemn what God has forgiven; we are in effect hating what he loves and punishing a person for whom God's Son has already taken the punishment. (150)
The heart of the problem is not that I need to learn to love myself, but that I learn to trust that God really means it when he says he loves me. (151)
When I am acutely aware of my own sin, I'm less likely to stand in judgment of my brother. It is this judgment that stands as a hurdle to loving. (165)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible