Jesus might have been less redundant if he spoke Greek…

Something that I find very obnoxious is redundancy. Often times I am convinced that it wastes time and makes me feel like incompatantcy is either suggested or found in one or the other party. So you can imagine my annoyance with this little story in John 21:15-18.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

Why the heck is Jesus so repetitive and redundant?!

He asks Peter (Simon) whether or not he loves him three times. And he tells him to feed or take care of his sheep the same amount of times.

Why?

“Well today I was gifted with a little insight into this mystery and I would love to humbly share it with you, if you don’t mind”, she said, sipping her Starbucks iced coffee daintily. (See what I did there? For Thirsty Thursday?)!

First of all, in the Greek translation, “love” has different words and meanings. I will give you a brief run down, but I would probably check out C.S. Lewis and his book The Four Loves if you’re interested.

  • Agápe means love in a “spiritual” sense. It often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true unconditional love” which is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. (The love of God).
  • Éros is “physical” passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic. “Love at first sight”. Eros does not have to be sexual in nature, but describing love you have for someone more than just a friend.
  • Philia  “mental” love. It means affectionate regard or friendship in both ancient and modern Greek. This type of love has give and take. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.
  • Storge means “affection” in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. In fact, it is almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant.

In the Greek translation, here’s how this conversation with Jesus would go down:

JC: Peter, do you AGAPE me more than these?

Pete: Lord, you know that I PHILIA you.

JC: Peter, do you AGAPE me?”

Pete: Yes, Lord, you know that I PHILIA you.

JC: Peter, do you PHILIA me?

Pete: (a little annoyed and grieved at being asked a third time) Lord, you know all things; you know that I PHILIA you!

JC: Then feed my sheep.

Now, Peter and Jesus didn’t speak Greek, so they wouldn’t have had this quibble over words, but what we have to ask ourselves is why did the writer, John, use the distinction between the two loves?

I believe all scripture is God-breathed and profitable, and I sure hope you do too. So, there is some reason as to why these two words are used in the Greek translation, and I believe is is to get us to understand a little more about who Jesus Christ is.

Jesus, after using one word for love, changed his words in order to meet Peter where he was at that time. Peter was clearly not at the level of Agape love (perhaps because he had just denied Jesus earlier), and so Jesus made the adjustment, came down to Peter’s level with Philia love while at the same time still making it clear that Agape love was the goal for his disciples.

Now, isn’t that beautiful? And isn’t that the way God always works?

love youHe points out the facts of what we should do. He will do that forever, and I sure am glad because I would really be lost with our clear direction! He shows us the kind of love He has for us and wants us to experience the deepest level of for His glory and for our own precious experience of Him.

…and yet… if for some reason we’re not there yet, if for some reason we just can’t get to that deep level in our spiritual walk, God does not just brush us aside and roll his eyes at how immature and stupid we are (even if we truly are immature and stupid). No! God comes down to our level and gives us a hand, gives us direction to get further, and loves us with all of Himself so that we might get to that deeper level.

Sometimes we are like Peter. We love God, we really do, but there is sin in our lives that is keeping us from really truly experiencing God as fully as He wants us to. But instead of sin creating an unbridgeable gap between us and God, Jesus bridges the gap for us. 

I mean, isn’t that why Jesus was sent down in the first place? To not only come down to our human level of experience, but to rectify our sin?

Peter sinned against God three huge times by denying Him in His final hour. This sin put a block up around Peter so he was not able to love God in the Agape sense. If Jesus, who truly deserves the full, selfless, godly Agape love, did not come down and adjust to accept his Philia love, I don’t think Peter would have gone on to do all of God’s incredible work as shown in the book of Acts. He would have no hope of even understanding how to get to Agape love unless Jesus gave him instructions on how to do so (“feed my sheep”).

Now, if God will do this for us, come down and meet us where we’re at, how much more should we do this for others?

Are you struggling with another believer who “just isn’t getting it”? Are you frustrated with your loved one who is stuck in sin or guilt or confusion?

Do what Jesus did. Get on their level. Accept where they are in their walk. Help them in their journey, not by pointing out direction from above, but by coming alongside them and showing them the way.

Perhaps you are the one who needs to be met at your level. Know and trust that Jesus is with you. His Holy Spirit is on you and will guide you to the next step further in your faith. You do not have to work your way up to God. In fact, you will fail miserably if you try! God will meet you where you are and take you higher, just as He did for Peter, Paul, the woman at the well, and countless others!

Today, for Thirsty Thursday, get thirsty for God’s love. His Agape love!

 

“I Resolve to Date More Often”

 Each week my husband and I have a date night.

We work hard to set an entire evening (starting around 6:30 p.m.) to spending uninterrupted time with one another. This is a tradition and will remain a tradition, as I have seen it to be an essential to keeping our marriage happy and healthy.

I was reminded of this fact after having a yes–slightly tipsy–conversation with one of my husband’s close friends. 

He was telling me the importance of “guys night”, and how he really appreciated that I understood that it would be totally awful if I came along. He then explained to me how he loves conversation with Dennis and asked me what my “girls nights” looked like, wondering if they were anything like “guys nights”. To our surprise, the only thing that seemed to separate our idea of a good friend-hang-out session were cigars (the men being fond of those and the women, not so much).

But yes, it’s true, I did understand, as I too would not want my husband awkwardly sitting next to me while I chatted it up with my girl friends and sipped on coffee or ate appetizers….

We, as married people and as dating people, need both “guys/girls nights” as well as “date nights”. Tonight I will focus on the ever important Weekly Date Night

Now, I am well aware that there are many ways to have a date night, and each person has a different idea about what a good date night entails.

Here are 10 good ideas for fun and meaningful date nights for couples of all kinds! 

(Oh! side note: most the these options are “on the cheap” since my husband and I work to budget for a few “All-Out” date nights, but keep the majority of them affordable.)

1. Questionable Dinner – Write down a bunch of random questions, each on a slip of folded paper. Put the papers in a bowl and randomly draw one and answer it over dinner or desert at home.

This is great for new couples who are just getting to know one another, or old couples who want to reminisce  about the past, or learn some crazy-weird stuff about each other! Here is a sample list of questions.

2. Devoted to The Word – Do a weekly Bible study together! This way, you can read scripture together, learn from one another’s interpretations, and share with one another your walk with God.

My husband and I did a devotional study on love and marriage that we could both access from our iPhones. We especially liked the last one, as it helped us both articulate what it was that we first found attractive in the other person (something we needed to be reminded of at the time!).

3. Snack-Central – Make an array of snacky foods for dinner, spread it out on the bed, and watch your favorite tv series together.

Dennis and I LOVE West Wing, and our favorite snacks are smoothies, popcorn, hummus and pita chips/veggies, chips and salsa/guacamole, brie and fruit with cranberry sauce, cheese and crackers (with summer sausage for Dennis), and of course wine!

4. You-Comedy Night!- Each of you make a list of your favorite funny youtube videos. Alternate showing them to each other and vote on with three were the funniest!  We didn’t do this as structured, but one night Dennis and I just watched a ton of funny youtube videos and had a blast laughing together!

This is my favorite one followed closely by this or this. And this couple put together a list of their favorites.

5. Camera Fun- Find a flip cam, or a video camera of some kind and make a funny video. Or, do a photo shoot together.

Since my husband is a rock star, and I’m a person who enjoys taking photos, we have used this to our advantage and have had many photo shoots (mainly consisting of me behind the camera though…). However, we have not done the video portion yet. We were talking about doing a fake episode of “Cribs” to show off our fun apartment with it’s strange idiosyncrasies. I might have to push for that!

6. The Readers- Read a book over the course of a few weeks, meeting up each week to discuss it. It could be a fiction book or a nonfiction book.

Some books that Dennis and I have read and recommend:

The 5 Love Languages
This one is really great for any couple because it has some really great insights into how individuals feel loved. For the longest time, I would write Dennis these cute little love notes, and always wondered why he didn’t write them for me. After reading this book, I realized that words were my love language, and I was trying to love Dennis the way I wanted to be loved. Meanwhile, Dennis was doing really nice things for me to help me out: bringing me coffee when I had stayed up late studying (this was when we were dating in college), or making me lunch when I had a particularly busy day. Acts of service was Dennis’ love language, and he was trying to love me the way he wanted to be loved! Since we know how to love each other better, now I make him dinner and fold his laundry, and he writes me notes and tells me I’m beautiful.

Sacred Marriage    This book is a real earth-shattering one. If you are Christian and you are engaged to be married or already married, I would say this book is a must-read. Without knowing it, we all have notions about marriage in our heads that make us expect the craziest things of one another. This book taught me how to set priorities straight in a marriage, with God being the number one for both husband and wife.

Rocking the Roles     This is the book we are currently making our way through. It is also quite earth-shattering, even though it is slightly dated (I think it was written in the early 90’s). We both were struggling with our respective roles as husband and wife and this book really broke it down. We even had a huge Ah-Ha! moment where we finally realized some of our biggest differences. I would also say this is a must-read for married couples.

The Alchemist     Now, this is a fiction novel with a lot of truth behind it. When we first started dating Dennis told me his entire philosophy was based upon this book, and so, because I was crazy about him, I read it. I LOVED IT! It provides so many philosophical topics of conversation and the entire story could arguably be an allegory for something larger. Read this one or any of this author’s books, all of which would be a good choice.

Captivating and Wild at Heart     Both of these books are pretty great! Captivating is about women and Wild at Heart is about Men. I would recommend women reading Captivating while the men read Wild at Heart, all the while taking notes on each chapter. Then you can switch off and read the one about the opposite sex, and also take notes, comparing them with your spouse or significant other’s.

Other books that I’d like to read with Dennis:

Divine ConspiracyThe Four LovesDietrich BonhoefferEating AnimalsIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto , and The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius  

7. Eco-Friendly and Equally Tasty – Start a garden together, then choose a day to harvest, or walk to a local Farmer’s Market and pick out some things. Go cook something up for lunch or brunch together with the fresh ingredients!

If you read my blog over the summer, you saw some sweet pictures of Dennis’ graduation/birthday gift to me, which was a vegetable garden! We even moved that potted garden to the South Side of Chicago when we left Bloomington, and have just harvested the last of the cinnamon oregano and green onions for the year.

Here is a great website where you type in your ingredients and they generate some possible recipes!

Here are some farmer’s market recipes!

Some Garden-growing help!

8. Smart Date with TED – For an intellectually stimulating date that we have yet to try (but may in fact this upcoming Friday!), choose a few TED talks to watch together. I was thinking of choosing from these due to the New Year. But your date could have a theme which you then find TED talks which have to do with said theme (such as work, dreams, technology, money, music, love, self-confidence, faith, inspiration, creativity, family…).

This kind of date would be a great way to expand your way of thinking, get to know each other intellectually, have stimulating and intelligent conversation, or just simply get inspired together.

9. A Bucket List Date –  Honestly, I keep stealing ideas from this blog, so I’ll just provide you with the link! This particular date sounds super fun and really useful for planning:

Create a “Bucket List” (things you want to do before you “kick-it”) separately. Perhaps limit it to 10 things you’d like to accomplish, places you like to go, or things you’d like to do. Share them with one another, then come up with anything else that you’d like to do together!  

This would be a great way to know what is important to your significant other or spouse as well as just have fun dreaming of the future together! You can even pair it with watching the movie The Bucket List as part of the date!

10. Splurge! – Go on an “All-Out” date.

The previous dates are all pretty cheap, which is how, as I mentioned, Dennis and I usually plan our weekly date night. But our numerous low-cost dates allow us to save for a rare and special occasion when we can go “All-Out”.

On our “All-Out” date, we will choose a really classy restaurant to go to, and we’ll get really dressed up to go to dinner. We’ll start with drinks, then slowly order an appetizer (we’re in no rush!). We’ll take our time with the food, and usually we will ask for a box so we can have leftovers later during we week (the portion sizes are usually pretty gigantic!).  We’ll sometimes choose a desert to share, if we’re not too full, or sometimes we’ll order the desert to-go and save it for another date night at home!

During our “All-Out “date, we don’t worry so much about price because we’ve saved enough to indulge. But there are always ways to make your “All-Out” date a little more manageable:  Ask for gift cards to nice restaurants for Christmas and Birthdays, pay attention to seasonal specials like this one a Maggiano’s which we just took advantage of, check Groupon or other coupon websites for deals, or go to a less fancy place and just make it fancy by dressing up and indulging in a 3 course meal!

Dennis and I usually like to try out new places for our “All-Out” dates, but we always seem to choose either Italian or Sushi places.

 

And there you have it! 10 super fun date night options for you and your special someone! I hope that part of your New Year’s Resolution is to take care of your relationships by being intentional with time, energy, and effort. 

What are some of your favorite dates? Can you and your spouse/significant other commit to a weekly date night reserved for only one another? 

Enjoy lovebirds!