Over the last couple of years I have been on a journey with God discovering ‘Love’. I know that I am destined to be a radical lover of Jesus, and also of this world, but to be real, the reality of God’s love is not always manifested in mine. On this journey of discovering love and discovering God, because God is love, I have had many heart wrenching moments of conviction. Moments where God has revealed things in my heart that I have agreed with as part of my life and even empowered in the name of ‘my personality type’ or ‘just the way I was brought up’, that actually don’t look like love at all. Let me tell you, the discipline of a loving father is a beautiful thing. He is always calling us into our true identity. If I am a child of God then I carry my father’s DNA, and my father is LOVE.
In culture today we have somehow made love about us. We have turned it into an abstract mushy feeling rather than actions that are a product of who we are. There are specific attributes that create love. Paul does a great job of outlining them in 1 Corinthians 13, the ‘love’ chapter. When I’ve read this chapter in the past, it just kind of floated in and out of my brain. I approached it as some unattainable goal that we were all trying to live up to, but in reality was impossible to attain. I mean who ‘loves’ like that!! The truth is, that thing I was doing that I thought was love, you know, only being nice to the people that were nice to me, and only giving what was given to me in return, that thing wasn’t love at all. Just to clarify, here are the verses I am talking about:
Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Corinthians 13:4-7
Can we just stop on the last part there, “love believes all things, love endures all things”. I have said more times than I’d like to admit, “If they do that one more time I’m done”, or, “They will never change I give up”. Here’s the thing though, what if Jesus had loved the world like I have ‘loved’ people, or said that about us? We wouldn’t be saved that’s for sure! What if he was like, “That’s it, I’m not dying for you hateful people. Father these people hate me why would I die for them?” Remember that part about heart wrenching conviction…. Jesus’s life will do it every time!
Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your father in heaven (there is that DNA again); for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors (illustration of extremely selfish people) do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”.