And he saved his tears for a place called Bethany
If you have wondered where your God may be leading you to, it’s a place called Bethany. It’s a place where ‘Agape’ love collides with ‘Phileo’ love – where unconditional love meets brotherly love to create a sense of family that all of us are deeply longing for. And it’s from a bond of brothers that strength comes and the future is won.
Jesus needed a Bethany – a safe place of celebration and love that enabled him to come undone a little. There’s only two places recorded in the Gospels when “Jesus wept”, and this was one of them. In the family home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany, tragedy had struck and Lazarus had died. They knew that if Jesus had been there earlier he could have healed him, but he was delayed for four days. Jesus was so upset by all that had happened that he couldn’t hold in the tears any longer. He’d been in a situation like this before, yet there’s no record of such emotion.
Sometimes you’re in life’s battles feeling you just have to steel yourself to keep your head above water. Yet all of us need as place we can unwind, come ‘undone’, be vulnerable and vent a little. This was that time. Bethany was the place. Jesus went ahead and raised Lazarus from the grave, marking the moment with one of the great ‘I am’ declarations, proving that he was God in flesh. He declared before anything had happened, “I am the resurrection and the life”. Yet Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus just because he had the power to do so, it was because he really missed him. His love for Lazarus went beyond Agape love. It went beyond a love that bleeds, into a love that breathes. It went beyond a love that sacrifices into a love that saves.
It’s true that without taking all of the conditions off our love for others and without taking off all our demands for justice and for recompense, as well as demands for other to be like us, Phileo love would just fragment and be torn to shreds. Our anger and bitterness would ruin all the love in the first place. Yet it’s also true that without Phileo love being laid upon the foundations of Agape, sure life would be full of amazing grace, but void of the affirming affection that our human hearts really long for.
You need a Bethany. We need a Bethany – a place where Mary pours adoration and admiration upon trust, where Martha serves because she loves to, and where Lazarus kicks back because he knows the heart of Christ is for relationship and not servitude.
Let’s create a Bethany in our lives. It’s a place of added value. It’s not silent. It’s filled with expressions of appreciation of each other. It’s filled with admiration and signs of affection. It’s filled with such admiration, adoration, affirmation and affection, that people will be drawn back to its source, and not be tempted to chase the making of these essential human needs outside of God’s magnificent will.
You’ll need to fight for this and draw upon the fullness of love. The closer you are to others the more open you become to the ebb and flow of your own sense of rejection or acceptance, abandonment or celebration. It’s easy to be upset by others who don’t seem to love you as much as you love them. Agape covers all of this plus more. Never allow self-pity to ruin a good party. We’re all born to love everyone a little or a lot more than we think they love us.
When Phileo love collides with Agape love it orders such riches and strength that will not only transform our church, but our cities and nations as well. Jesus needed a Bethany and so do we. Let’s being creating it today!