Math, Love, and Order of Operations


Readings for May 17, 2020

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Psalm 66:1-7,16,20
1 Peter 3:15-18
John 14:15-21

While admittedly I didn’t learn enough math in school, I did learn a few things while “helping” my children when they were learning early math skills, so I know that order of operation matters. Seven minus four equals three. Three minus seven does not. And the order of operations also matters in how I practice my faith. Jesus teaches, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…he who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Jesus is making a distinction between blind obedience to the Law and what it means to have the Law written on our hearts. First love Him. Then obey. Then love one another. That’s the order of Godly love. It seems to indicate that obedience is only practiced authentically in love. All other attempts are selfish cries for attention, self-adulation, or affirmation. I am not kidding about this because I know I am capable of all three! But with love, in love, it is not about me. It is about the object of my love—God.

God is love. That love was made manifest in Jesus. That love is seeded within us by our Creator and we turn to Him who loved us first. In doing so, we love out of obedience and, in fact, we fear falling short in that love—not for fear of punishment but because love is a driving force. And, that love carries forth in a love for all God has created for us, especially those whose lives intersect with ours. Love God. Love Jesus. Be obedient in love. Love others. That is the order which God has created for us.

My Lord God, thank you for loving me first and for giving me the gift of Your Son, my Savior, to show me the path to obedience. That path must begin and end with love of You. May I show that love in my interactions with those around me so that I remain freely and wholly Yours. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen

4 thoughts on “Math, Love, and Order of Operations

  1. You are nothing without love.

    We build and order our world in, with, by, and (surprisingly) for fear. But at root, and I think this is open to observation for anyone at any time anywhere, without love, you are nothing.

    You were born when your mom and dad shared love. (Yes there are exceptions, but this is how it works.)

    You were utterly naked and needy when you were born. You could not speak, not even explain what you wanted or needed. But your mom (and dad and other family) loved you and figured out what you needed and wanted and supplied you with it.

    This wasn’t just a matter of calories, of vitamins, minerals and well-balanced food groups (though that stuff is involved), it was a breast in your mouth. Your mother’s naked, vulnerable breast in your mouth, and your mouth almost the center of your existance, it SEEMS for a while, feels, tastes, discovers EVERYTHING. What little vision you have is able to look into your mother’s smiling face as she fills your tummy from her breast, her own naked vulnerability.

    That’s more than calories and vitamins. Its more even than touching. And it is possible to put nutrients in a child and make them have a pulse, but the LIFE there is given in LOVE.

    I haven’t even opened a Bible yet… and here we are confronted with LOVE.

    We think we can kill enough people, enough ideas, enough trees and fish to make our world ordered in a way we want. But that is not true.

    It is far better to help a Nazi repent and learn to love and to be loved than it is to kill all Nazis. And in the killing of the Nazis something of the life and love they were trying to kill within us – in a place they could not reach – dies. But when a Nazi finds love in us, repents and is changed into a new creation by the LOVE they find in us, then something new happens that cannot be killed.

    Still not opening a Bible, but you can see there is a lot of Bible seething beneath the surface of the things I am saying.

    I am trying to harmonize with your post in saying these things.

    We live in a world that teaches Survival of the Fittest to people, every last one of us able to read that sentence, did not survive infancy without some kind of LOVE in our lives. Broken though it may be, the LOVE got through or we would be NOTHING and dead. (Even broken love is powerful that way.) Ironic that we give the notion of Survival of the Fittest any share in our thoughts, actually. There is no such thing.

    Love undergirds everything.

    I am rebellious, selfish, and unfit to love or to be loved.

    But I am loved. And all of my better moments reflect that. All of my ugly moments test that – and prove it.

    I am loved, therefore I am.

    Descartes got it wrong.

    Jesus got it right.

    Liked by 2 people

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