Love is a tricky thing. You can ask 100 people what love means and you’re likely to get a hundred different answers or interpretations of what love is. Some have known the greatest love in their life through a spouse, or a child. Some have seen love the most through their family member or even their friendships. Some are scared of it, tired of it, sick over it, stuck in it, or enthralled by it. People have so many different reactions to love and so many ideas of what it really means.
I am the type who often takes inventory of my relationships. I’m a hard critic of myself in how I treat the people I say I love. If I love someone, how do they know that? But even more, if I am claiming to make this huge decision to love someone what does that really mean?
Because I’m an imperfect human, (yes, people who love Jesus are STILL imperfect and in constant need of His grace and mercy) I don’t have this love concept down pact -not even close. I’m still rude, judgmental, hyper-sensitive, unimpressed with others giving real effort, emotionally unavailable at times and so many more things I can name. I struggle with remembering that love is far from a feeling or emotion, but that it’s a choice that you make again and again. Love is making the decision to give sacrificially, to not count yourself more highly than you ought to, to value the other as more than yourself, and even to lay down your very life for them. That’s not what our culture says love is. To us, love is just accepting and existing and being okay with where were we are but if that’s the case, then my mama doesn’t love me at all. She has always been someone who loves so hard that you don’t have to choice to stay where you are. She calls out more -she calls out greater. She is able to understand and where you are, but solely accepting that isn’t necessarily love especially if you’re in a emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental state you shouldn’t be in or stay in.
When Jesus came to live among us, he introduced us to a new love. It was the kind that saw a blind man begging in the road and gave him sight. It was the kind of love that drove out demons, and healed with the power of his touch and word people who had been left out and dejected. This new love was foreign (and I would stay is still foreign) to us because the origin of it isn’t us. This new love was all God and we don’t have the means to conjure it up on our own or even completely understand it.
That new love pushes us to grow and it hurts like hell, but what hurts worse is someone who is willing to see where you are and just leave you there. Imagine that blind man knowing Jesus could heal him and Jesus just walking by because giving himself in that way didn’t benefit him. For me, life is way to short to just accept a counterfeit love and call it real just because it’s easier. To choose to receive and give love to people is so much harder than in the movies. It holds you accountable to healthy confrontation, to disagree, to get in the mud, to touch the unclean stuff, to respect someone beyond what you can comprehend, to give when it hurts and is inconvenient, and to open yourself up to be wounded or abandoned. All things Jesus walked through in just 33 short years of life. It’s calls us into more raw, unfiltered, messy love than we can bear, cause this love is from God and His love is far too big for us to ever accomplish in our own self will.
I have cavalierly caught myself saying, “I don’t like this person right now, but I love them” which is interesting to say because with my words it sounds I’m saying that “like” is harder to do than “love.” What I think that really translates to is that “like” has no basis in anything other than our self-will. And if you have ever gone on a diet or abstained from something you enjoy, you know how fickle our self will is. New love is not based in self-will alone, it has to be deeper than that. The choices you have to make when you love someone, to be uncomfortable are not choices that can easily be mastered by our own strength alone. We need more. We need the root of love in us to be of the same origin that Jesus’ love was. The Father, because that love is the only one that can endure.
Without something deeper we tend to be fearful, lack compassion, have misunderstanding, jump to conclusions, operate in anger, lack patience, lack kindness, lack wisdom and on and on. But love that’s based in who Jesus is changes us. Even though our self will wants to react in the ugly ways, it calls us to turn from the ugly stuff and give it to Him. He helps us to be fearless, to have compassion, to gain understanding before we speak, to be kind, be patient and gain wisdom.
In this series we are talking about this love from Jesus. How we have failed at it, and how He has made us victorious in it. Our hope is that you will take the challenge to love others sacrificially and grow with us as we try to figure out this new love that isn’t naturally embedded in us. It’s not the love we are used to, join us in our February 3-part series, New Love.
Written by: Calah Jackson