Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Made Complete In Us

Can love ever be a matter of words? For some who are afraid of pain that is all love will ever be, mere words. There are a lot of people afraid of that emotion for many various reasons but the greatest reason is because of the hurt they have experienced through it. In order for love to be real there must be vulnerability, an openness, an attitude of letting your guard down to let people in. Love, for everyone, is a big risk with terrible consequences when it goes wrong because love is the greatest emotional force that has ever been and will ever be.

Love can never be a matter of words because love provokes action. Love causes us to do things; silly things, dumb thing, brave things, incredible things. Love never leaves us standing on the sidelines looking in. If that is all it is to you then you have not experienced love. You have felt something else but it cannot be love if it leaves you standing still. It is because of this fact that people are afraid of it; they don't trust themselves and build walls to protect their heart from the pain that sometimes is caused by it's rejection by others. We build walls, deny its existence, distant ourselves, turn cold, hide away, avoid people and things that cause the memories, do whatever we have to do, become whatever we have to become in order to avoid the whole mess.

Those who refuse to avoid the mess see the value of even the pain that sometimes accompanies love. They are willing to risk everything, face anything, overcome anything to experience the greatest experience, feeling, emotion and action on the face of this planet. They are willing to be vulnerable, to be open, to be accepting because the experience is worth the risk. And if you do not know this then you do not know what love is. We do because we have experienced it first hand by the greatest lover of all eternity :

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

It does not get any more basic than this; God is love and those who follow him must love. We know we have experienced the Father's heart when we are able to love in the face of any situation. We know we have experienced the love of Jesus when we are able to do what he did for others. Anything short of this just makes us religious and useless for the mission to which our Father has called us. We are no good to him unless we are able to live and act out of the love we have experienced. The love of our God is not some mystic experience or some great philosophy, it is an action. This is how he showed us:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

That is how we know he loves us, he gave us his best. What is this love? What is love?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Take note of the definition of love and the risk that was taken in this action. Our God did not play it safe, he did not wait until he was sure we would respond to him. In fact I am pretty sure he knew of every single person who would reject him, spit in his "face", trample on his name and even deny his existence. Our Father demonstrated that love is not two people loving each other but instead one person taking all the risk for the benefit of another person. Perhaps we can better understand why Jesus said it wasn't love when a person returned what he received but instead when a person gave what could not be returned. If we have truly experienced this love of the Father then we cannot stay the same; we cannot stay on the sidelines, we cannot be spectators, we cannot remain people afraid of risk:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  (1 John 4:11-12)

It is made complete in us when we are willing to do for others what God has done for us; when we risk the pain of rejection to give our very best to those who cannot give back to us. Do we really think that what little we have to give back to God can even compare to what he has given to us? Hardly. Yet, he accepts our worship, love, adoration as if they were perfection itself. This is made complete when we can understand it and accept what people offer back to us even when it is so little compared to what we have given. It is also made complete when we continue to love even when that love is rejected time and again. Oh wow! how far we fall short of God's glory!

What many of us call love is no love at all. When we carry around with us the baggage of past hurts and hold on to the memories of wounds, this is not love. Love does not remember, love let's go and love never gives up. Perhaps most of us need to take the time to to be immersed  in this love once again, to discover its true nature and depth, and realize the implications for our life. Something is wrong in the Church and only the real experience of God's love is going to correct it.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

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