What’s Love Got To Do With It?

*This article originally appeared in the Christian Online Magazine, September 2013 Issue*

Temple Maintenance: What’s Love Got to do With It?

(The Fruit of the Spirit Diet–Part 2)

I love lasagna, spaghetti, cheese…and just about anything pasta or cheese related. What about you? What’s that one culinary cuisine that tickles your taste-buds? Would you say you eat what you truly love on a daily basis?

But wait a second, first let me clarify what I mean by love. You see, in the Greek language there are two forms of the word “love” used prominently in the New Testament: phileo andagape. If you’ve listened to a sermon or two, chances are you’re at least somewhat familiar with these terms.

Phileo is best described as an affectionate love. It’s what we feel as an emotion. We love our spouses—we are affectionate towards them. We usually love our friends in an affectionate, emotional way as well. While phileo love is more or less from the heart, agape love is from the head. It’s an act of the will, an intellectual love—so to speak. It’s a choice. When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, He uses the word agape not phileo. In fact, agape is the word most frequently used in the New Testament for love. Phileo love is easier because it’s a natural emotion. Agapelove is a much more difficult, because it’s a command Jesus gives us, and it is a type of love we must willfully choose.

For the most part we probably eat the foods we love (phileo). These are the foods we choose when we’re emotionally distressed (come on ladies, you know what I mean), when we’re celebrating, or when we’re craving something satisfying and delectable. I phileo-love lasagna; in fact I don’t have to think twice about eating it. “Me hungry, me eat lasagna now,” I growl in my best cookie-monster voice. But when it comes to taking care of my temple, I have to think a little harder about what I eat. Every day we’re faced with the choice to eat what we love (phileo) or eat out of love (agape).

“Let all that you do be done in love (agape).” 1 Corinthians 16:14

The Greek word for “all” in this verse is…well, ALL! All means everything. From the way we talk about or neighbors behind their backs, to the way we take care of our bodies (temple maintenance), all must be done out of love. This type of love can only be a choice, which means it won’t always be easy. Weagape-love Jesus, therefore we choose to obey His commands because we know He has designed the best plan for our lives—much greater than anything we could have dreamed up for ourselves. In the same way, to take care of our temples is to choose what we eat out of agape–love. We choose to obey God when it comes to gluttony, self-control, and healthy eating not necessarily because we always feel like it (phileo) but because we know it honors God and the temple he entrusted into our care. Being a good steward of our bodies is a testimony of our faith and how we view the sanctity of life.

“If you love (agape) Me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

“But above all these things, put on love (agape).” Colossians 3:14

“Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy.”Romans 12:9

Truthfully, I’d rather eat lasagna every day for lunch, but if I did that (especially with the amount of cheese I use in my recipes) I’d have a serious coronary problem before long. So, rather than eating what I phileo-love every day, I eat out ofagape-love most days, so when I do indulge in the occasional treat, I know that I am not doing my body harm. God certainly wants us to enjoy food; otherwise He wouldn’t have given us taste-buds. But if that lust for food becomes unhealthy, we can easily take a good thing and turn it into a sinful thing.

We take care of our homes, cars, and personal possessions to show that we care about those things and their value. How much more should we show this agape-love to our own bodies? This is a choice that demonstrates not only respect for God’s creation, but agape-love for Him and His word.

What’s love got to do with it? Well, I’d say it’s got everything to do with it! What do you think?

© Rebecca Aarup

(To view other article in the series, “The Fruit of the Spirit Diet,” visit www.RebeccaAarup.com and click on “Temple Maintenance”.)

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The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet (Part One)

**Originally published in the Christian Online Magazine, August 2013**

The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet

Part One: No Laws?

By Rebecca Aarup

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Since we are living in the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (NLT)

 

No sugar, no carbohydrates, no gluten, no chemicals, no processed foods…there are enough food laws to make a person’s head spin! You can hardly enjoy a conversation without the issue of food restrictions being raised. I’d guess a good majority of people are on some sort of specialty diet, whether due to medical problems or personal convictions. And admittedly, I adhere to a few of those food rules myself. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to open my refrigerator or visit my favorite restaurant, eat whatever I want, whenever I want, with no fear of the consequences those food choices would leave with my body.  What a wonderful world that would be, right? Unfortunately, though, I’m one of those people who gains weight when they as much as look at a chocolate chip cookie cross-eyed. I have to watch what I eat “religiously” as well as exercise consistently just to maintain my current weight (which is on the high end of normal for my height). A lot of this has to do with aging (boo!) and the consequences of suffering with an eating disorder for many years. Suffice it to say, if I was to take a free-for-all approach to my diet, I would be shopping for a newer, larger wardrobe rather frequently.

 

But imagine a dietary world with no rules, where nothing was off limits. I can hear you laughing now, “Sure, Rebecca, sounds great BUT…” And you’d be right, because the reality is, that is not the world we live in. The things we choose to do or think directly affect our physical and emotional health, whether we like to admit it or not.

 

And that got me thinking, “what if”? What if there was something we could consume without fear of consequences. A substance with no rules or laws. How would that affect our outlook on diet, exercise, health, and spirituality? That’s when one of my daughter’s favorite verses popped into my head, the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, against which “there is no law.” Is it possible that walking by the Spirit’s leading specifically in the ten areas mentioned in this popular passage could help us live a more balanced life in every area of spiritual and physical health? Does the fruit of the Spirit even have anything to do with our diet and health?

 

Over the next several months I hope you’ll join me on this journey of exploration through a diet with no rules or limitations—the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet. We’ll be looking at what, if anything, each “fruit” has to do with our physical health. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives,” and so it is with the area of food, and physical health.

 

How about you? Do you think any of the spiritual fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23 relate in any way to your diet or physical health? In what ways?
To ensure you don’t miss any of this ongoing series, to comment, or to ask questions, visit me at http://www.RebeccaAarup.com and enter your email address to receive new articles directly in your inbox each month. In the next article we’ll discuss “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” I hope you’ll consider joining me on this journey unlocking the keys to the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet!

© Rebecca Aarup

Why You Might Need to Stand on Your Head

 

“I was so desperate; I would have done anything they told me to do, even if they had told me to stand on my head in the corner of the room for a week straight. I would have done it—anything to be free.” My sponsor shared her own story of recovery with me the first night we met. She had been sober from alcoholism for over ten years, and here I was, a newbie to the whole thing. At the time, though, I had not quite reached that level of desperation, and it would be two more years of addiction, bitterness, depression, mental illness, and overall internal misery before I experienced freedom from such things. In other words, I had to get to that level of desperation, that level of desire, before an authentic lasting change of behavior could take place. Until I reached that point, I continued in a “double-minded” state of living, oscillating between what I knew from God’s word and what I actually experienced in my day to day life.

And I’m not the only one who has experienced this tragic tug-of-war over the mind. Often, the mind is far more willing than the heart. Unfortunately, the two must meet in agreement in order for a real transformation to take place. And by transformation I don’t mean a temporary lapse of obedience to God’s word, but a true sustained inner peace that passes all human understanding. A peace that is characterized by freedom from entanglements that exudes through one’s countenance, which brings us to:

The Countenance Test

You can learn a lot about a person through their countenance. Luke 9:28-36 recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ transfiguration, and in verse 29 we’re told, “As [Jesus] prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered.” Even the Son of God was changed when in the presence of His Father through prayer. Much the same, when we wear the person of Jesus Christ (spending time listening to Him and believing what He says about us—experiencing life to the full) our presence (how we carry ourselves and how we express ourselves) will be affected.

When my family spent a day at Disneyland for our daughter’s fifth birthday last September, we had to cram as much in as we could in one short day. We arrived when the park opened and stayed until they closed the doors. We only sat down to eat one time during the entire day. No joke, folks, it was brutal. At first we entered the park practically skipping along with excitement. We were all smiling from ear to ear; we could hardly contain our enthusiasm. But by the time midnight rolled around we were exhausted, sore, hungry, and sunburnt. It wouldn’t have taken a psychologist to figure it out, either. One look at us would have told the story.

Most Christians have that sort of skip-a-long attitude when they first come to Christ. They’re excited and full of energy, “I’ve been redeemed! WOOOO!” But over time, as the reality of life kicks in, the believer wears down emotionally. Sometimes having to drag themselves to church through the doubt and discontentment they feel on a daily basis. The same is true for those who have experienced a personal revival or rededication to Jesus. The excitement eventually wanes and things go back to “business as usual”.

Week in and week out believers are walking into churches with saddened countenances. Their body language and facial expressions tell a far greater story than their words. And that story is not exuding peace, joy, and contentment. Instead, the countenance says, “Jesus, your burden is so heavy and your yoke is more than I can bear. You want too much from me. I want to give up. I’m tired.” How sad that Christ-followers are settling for this kind of existence!

When Truth Doesn’t Set You Free

I recently received an email from a stranger who had stumbled upon my website. This person was desperate for freedom (or so they said). But I had an uneasy feeling from the get-go, and in my correspondence I tried to pay careful attention to the responses I received. It became apparent that the struggling person was not, in fact, even a Christian (one who has trusted in Jesus alone for salvation). They were dealing with demonic interference and had dabbled in the occult/Satan worship.

When I presented this person with the gospel, their whole demeanor changed. They became angry and aggressive, even switching personalities and claiming to be someone else. At one point they told me the original author of the email was no longer allowed to communicate with me.

I assured this person that they could be set free, but only through Jesus Christ. But that wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear and submitting to Christ was not an option for them. In fact, it enraged them every time I mentioned the name of Jesus.

I’ve had experiences of a similar nature with other believers who come to me with their struggles. While they are willing to read books—especially the Bible—do studies, attend conferences, and join groups, they are unwilling to believe what God says about them or their circumstances, and they are not willing to allow God to circumcise their heart and purge the things that are holding them back from a full experience of freedom. Many times these individuals also get angry and defensive when presented with the truth. Unfortunately, they want the result (peace) without the effort (choosing to believe and live by the truth despite circumstances).

The only truth that will set you free is the truth you are willing to apply. <<<(Click here to Tweet this!)

If you want to experience a freedom that exudes through your countenance (in other words, it’s infectious to those around you), you need to reach that point where you’re willing to stand on your head to get results. You’re willing to choose not to be a victim, not to have rights (because your rights are in fact God’s, not yours), you’re willing to be humbled, you’re willing to admit your way isn’t producing the fruit you’d like it to, you’re willing to listen to truth without defensiveness, you’re willing to embrace the relationships God has placed in your life—even the tough ones (some of my biggest spiritual epiphanies have come through the voice of my accusers); in other words, you’re willing to do whatever it takes to be free. You’re willing to believe God’s word and live by faith.

Are you weary, worn, tired, fearful, anxious, depressed, despairing, discontented, embittered, angry…? Are you tired enough to let God change it? Will you stand on your head if He tells you to? You can experience life to the full but you need to ask yourself how willing are you really?

If you are willing, but need help with the “how” of all of this, feel free to email me (RebeccaAarup@mail.com) with your questions. Please, don’t settle for anything less than perfect peace.

Related articles:

If You Really Want the World to Change, it Starts with This

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Unconventional

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

I walked toward my garden as a flock of birds shot into the sky. I hurried to find out what they were doing and my heart sank as I saw my new cantaloupe plants ravaged by sharp beaks.

My first reaction was to go to the store and buy fencing wire or screens to protect the plants. Only problem was my husband was out of town for a week and my daughter was very sick, so leaving was out of the question. On the other hand, if I allowed the plants to go unprotected-even one more day-they would certainly die. I stood in the hot sun gazing around my yard trying to work out a solution.

Finally, my eyes rested on the collapsible wire dog crate on the porch. I got to work breaking the cage down and hauling it to my garden. It was only big enough to cover the cantaloupe so I used some other yard items, plus an old baby gate, to surround the rest of the melon plants.

The next day the vines had already begun growing new leaves. I didn’t have to buy anything (yet) and I successfully protected the young plants, though my method was certainly unconventional. Because I invested so much time and money cultivating my garden, I was highly motivated to do whatever it took to protect it.

My spiritual garden is far more important than my physical garden, and I must do whatever is necessary to protect it from harm. Often that means using unconventional methods scoffed at by the world (and sometimes other Christians). Maybe I won’t eat certain foods, watch certain movies, read certain books, or spend money on certain items. Following an unconventional Jesus means making unconventional choices.

“Don’t copy the customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:2 (TLB) (emphasis mine)