When Relational Love Becomes Toxic

I met Lenny Evans in the early 1970’s, and I would never be the same again! Lenny was quite a guy. It seemed like he had doctorates from practically every major college in Europe and America, and with his some what British accent, sounded the part. Yet, for all of his knowledge and wisdom, he had the unique ability to take a complex subject and simplify it for anyone to understand. And so it was with his favorite subject to expound on. Lenny went all over the world teaching what he defined as the “Love Message,” based on I. John 4:7-11 which begins, ” Beloved, let us love one another, for Love is of God.” When I heard that message, my life would be forever changed, as would hundreds of my friends who established their walk of faith based on that same principle. In fact it would soon become foundational to a small Bible study in Massillon, Ohio that would later become High Mill Christian Center.
Lenny was not only a close personal friend but also a mentor, who loved to have me take him to lunch so that he could grill me concerning scriptures. I would leave those three hour sessions all beat up but the better for it, because Lenny loved me enough to be sure that I was handling the Word properly.
Lenny’s message was simplistic in nature; as God loves us, we ought to love one another the same way. It was simple but profound. It was and is the message of Jesus concerning how we treat one another. But shortly before Lenny died, we had one of our lunches and he told me something that I will never forget. He began in that unique accent that was all his own, ” I feel Chuck that I’ve left out part of the story about love, a missing chapter, that I deeply regret. I should have spent more time talking about a tough and abiding covenant love that doesn’t give up on others and is not dictated by emotions .” He didn’t go in to detail that day what he had left out, and as fate would have it, I would never have another opportunity to discuss the subject any further.
For years, I have wished that I would have had time to ask Lenny about what the Lord would have added to his Love Message. Amazingly, I had much like an epiphany or Revelation, while in Armenia and Switzerland, just several weeks ago. There, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to me what was in Lenny’s heart when he spoke those words to me. I believe that it was a revelation, first of all, of what true Love should look like in the body of Christ. But secondly and much more importantly- He revealed to me what takes place when Relational love and friendships replace the voice and Spirit of God speaking in guiding and casting future personal vision. It is when “Godly” personal relationships leave God out of the equation that toxic love replaces Jesus as Lord- making His will for our lives subject to the actions and wims of those I’m in deep relationship with. It is where the worship of personal relationships replaces the creator of all Relationship. He took me to John 21, and in my next blog, I will share with you what He revealed to me about toxic love and Lenny’s Love Message.

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