Sunday, February 15, 2015

I’ll be honest ... I hate writing about love.

Love is the one thing we crave above all others and the one thing we’re the worst at, in our own selves. I’d argue that it even comes above money or power, for various reasons. It’s easy to grasp for money and power, but love—the real thing—cannot by its own nature be grasped for. We can’t force someone to love us. We can’t even earn it, not really.

And however good or nice or spiritual those around me think I am, real love is something I fail at every day.

For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1, NKJV)

Love’s primary motivation is the benefit of others. However it gets twisted between motive and execution, I think we all know this. But it’s easy to forget that Jesus said the one defining mark of His followers would be, not their pure doctrine or flawless worship, but their love for each other.

But what does that mean? What does real love look like?

In the backwash of another Valentine’s Day, where all the focus is on romance, and all the flap over 50 Shades of Grey, I find myself wondering whether there are limits to “love suffers long,” how we wound up with a whole day devoted to selling candy and flowers, and how we can have books like The Five Love Languages and still we don’t “love well” any more than we ever did.

I think somewhere along the way, even the Church has missed the point.

Paul goes on in chapter 2:

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Notice that “like-minded” here has more to do with humility than it does matching a particular set of personal convictions. Do we serve with no thought of recognition? Are we jealous of the blessings others get, when we seem to be passed over? Do we think we’re too good, too educated, too skilled, for a particular task that needs doing? That our time is too important for us to stop for the menial things?

I’m guilty of all of these—as a mother, a wife, a neighbor, a member of a local church. And yes, we’re all human and we’re all guilty. But maybe, instead of thinking about romance or all the ways the newest book or movie craze is just awful, could we find just one way to make someone else’s day nicer, or ask the Lord to help us to be a blessing more than we seek blessings for ourselves?
Yes. We can all do that, regardless of what kind of relationships we find ourselves in. Because the deepest love was that of an infinite God who stooped to become one of us, who died in our place ... and who creates something of worth from our own fragile, finite loves.


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