Monday, September 26, 2011


Many times we forget the concept of love. It is a central principle of our faith but it seems like it is talked about very little at church. We Christians seem to skip over it as a kids lesson. It is alright for the little ones at children's church but not for us mature Christians. We like to deal in mature stuff like financial stewardship or church growth. Those topics maybe mature, and boring, but very much not important compared to love. ”And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

I see Christianity like the game of Othello. Easy to learn lifetime to master. Just like the game after we learn how Christianity works we just want to play, have fun and start mastering the game. Any player of any game like Othello and chess would tell you practicing the basics is key. Terrible is the chess player who does not have the basics down but knows the most complicated moves. We should still remember while reading my clever analogy that Christianity is not a game it is our lives and who we are. We don't need to win. It is not a game of who can be more holy. In fact one upping others in the Bible is frowned up on. It is said to be Pharisee like behavior of showing off.

Sometimes the holiest people know the value of simplicity the best. It is no secret that my husband is a Quaker and I, while not sure what I should label myself as, have definite Quaker sentiments. I love their adherence to peace, tolerance and the traditional value of simplicity. Love is simple, love is clear, love is joy, love is sacrifice when necessary. Love is the love of Jesus. I have confined my studies mostly, due to time constraints and possible ADD, to the life of Jesus. It has really taught me what is important. Love is important. Faith is important. Looking at the world through the lens of love makes knowing what would Jesus do way easier. What would Jesus do? Jesus would love.

I pray to love more and to act in love. It is something God has given to my heart to do. I could never love too much. I think Christians could use genuine non-self seeking love a whole lot more.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corintheans 13)


  1. "I think Christians could use genuine non-self seeking love a whole lot more."

    I don't think this actually exists. Everything people do, even when out of love, is done in such a manner as reflects their own self-love. Pure altruism is a myth, and -- in my opinion -- antithetical to the survival of our species. One cannot love without involvement of the self, for it is the self doing the loving. The self is inherently seeking its own benefit by reaching out to another to love.

  2. For some reason I have always been very interested in the Quakers. I come from Finnish Pietist background which sounds partly quite similar to liberal Quakerism - it is also very tolerant, very mystical, absolutely non-hierarchical, perhaps this typical hymn gives an idea of the ethos:

    Anyway, otherwise I would have surely rejected Christianity completely, had I not witnessed that there actually are non-exclusionist, worthwhile and liberal interpretations of it. I have thought that Quakers might share quite a similar approach to faith. The silent meetings sound somehow very inviting - I think there are occasional meetings in Helsinki area, but I have never taken part. (Just started reading your blog, it seems quite excellent indeed - ended up here from Justin's blog, we seem to share quite similar interests and opinions!)

  3. Thanks stocholm, I have never heard of Finnish Pietists but I moved away when I was ten and returned a little over a year ago. I like the hymn and want to find out more about the Pietists. I am glad you are liking my blog so far. I am racking my brain to figure out which blog is Justin's. Does he go by a different name online and what is the name of the blog? I read a lot of blogs on sililar subjects so I am not able to dig it out of my brain so assist me please :).

  4. Never mins stockholm, just figured it out. Justin is the estonian one. I just like two days ago discovered his blog again after a long absense, it was burried in my favourite folder.

  5. Yep, that's him. I have always been interested in Estonian society and history. He has a good blog and an interesting perspective to the country. Maybe bit like yours to Finland, though of course you are a returnee. Still, it must be quite a unique angle to a country, both a priviledge and a burden no doubt... Can't be very easy at times.

    It's really difficult to explain the Pietists to outsiders, it's pretty much a movement without organization and control, it's strange, in a way bit shapeless. I see myself more as an agnostic-pietist, an agnostic who simultaneously really is sort of a Christian, but of course no-one would ask me about my beliefs, everyone is welcome, regardless. I like them quite seriously, and the Quakers have always reminded me of the Finnish Pietists. Here a modern version of one of those beautiful folk tunes that are used for Pietist hymns:

    In Finnish the term is heränneet or körttiläiset, it actually used to be in some (but not in all) ways quite a conservative movement but after the war it has turned strongly towards liberalism quite in the same way as happened in British Nonconformism in the 19th century.

  6. I replied to you comments, but I think my comment might have disappeared, after the word verification - weird, but anyhow will try again soon!

  7. I think my reply was swallowed by the evil net, but there wasn't much text anyway. Yep, I like Justin's blog and his approach to Estonia - kind of a similar situation maybe for you, though of course you are a returnee, which maybe gives something extra to the regular binary situation of the immigrant and the adopted land... Your texts are very perceptive, I like the way you approach religion, and of course the Quaker angle is very interesting for me.

    It's not easy to explain Finnish Pietism to outsiders, it's somehow very formless and radically without organizational control, it cannot be encapsulated very neatly and abstractly - the hymns with their folk tunes are to my mind the best ways (I link a very nice modern interpretation to the end of the comment.) In Finnish you say "herännäisyys" or "körttiläisyys" which used to be quite strict in some - but all - ways: there has been a strong turn towards liberalism only after the war, quite in the same way how once British nonconformists turned to very liberal and even radical positions. But this is only a part of the story, below the link:

  8. Sorry, not the evil nets fault but mine, I have to moderate all comments on posts older than 30 days and I was lazy. I apologize.

    I looked up the finnish pietists and took a long time to find the information, had to go to your blog.

  9. Well, I noticed the moderation thign, but I did not get that text about it after I had posted, so I wasn't sure if it had actually gone anywhere and couldn't refresh the page. Anyhow, no big deal - will continue reading your most inspiring blog!