Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do You Want To Know What Real Love Is? It Will Cost You

Are you the type of person who likes watching YouTube videos of people getting hurt because it happens in a funny manner? You probably don't even realize what you are doing. It's like watching a slapstick comedy only these people are real so their pain is real. It looks funny as they fall down the stairs, or slip on the ice, or walk into a car but that is real suffering at which we are laughing. That is our society but it is not the Kingdom of God.

We have the same problem when it comes to vengeance and wanting our enemy to suffer. It is like watching the school yard bully finally getting beat up. We have this comic book hero mentality where we think that there needs to be pay back Old Testament style, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This may be justice but it is not love. We are not believers in karma. In fact, we take delight in breaking that karma cycle in people's lives:

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

The people of God take no delight in the suffering of any person. We do not want to see the school yard bully beat up in the name of justice but instead we want to see him saved under the blood of Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want nothing to do with vengeance, lying, cheating, cutting corners, compromising, or anything that would throw dirt on the purity of God's love. I find the most powerful statement of what makes God's love different from the world's is this:

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Do you sense the power of this statement? Do you see the transforming power in relationships? Do you see why forgiveness is not enough for a Christian, we must also work at reconciliation in our relationships, even in the ones that have caused us great pain. Notice the word "always". We are commanded to love as Jesus loved. God loves everyone; we are to love everyone. God loved his enemies (us); we are to love our enemies. What does this love look like?

Love always protects; not just our family and friends but our enemy as well. We have a hard time doing this for our family and friends so how will we ever be able to do it for our enemies?

Love always trusts; even those people who have hurt us deeply by breaking our trust. This is why I said forgiveness is not enough, we must reconcile as well. In order for love to be sincere we must be vulnerable to the pain of betrayal.

Love always hopes; even when the person shows no sign of change. No matter how stubborn a person is we continue to hold out hope that they will become everything they were born to be. Just as a fat ugly caterpillar is destined to change into a graceful, beautiful butterfly so God has destined every person to move from being his creation to becoming his child. We do not let go of this hope, even when the person is the ugly school yard bully.

Love always perseveres; which goes along with hope. We never give up, pack our bags and walk away from anyone. If we do it means that we do not love as we say that we love. According to God's love, which we are to possess and have for each other, there is never an excuse for giving up on anyone. We give up only when we start measuring the cost to us. Love is expensive, it cost our Father his Son. What is it costing you?

When we measure what we call love against this definition of the love we are suppose to have ours ends up looking pathetic and sick. We realize that we haven't even begun to grasp the fundamental truths of God's love. There is so much in us that has to die and be pushed aside. It is the reason Paul said to his friend that he needed to work out his salvation daily. We have to grow and mature in this love in order to be the effective workmen we have been called to be. We cannot fail in love and then just shrug our shoulders. There must be a daily breaking and surrender to the will of the Spirit so he can enable us to live this love. It is not optional, we must move forward in our desire to live this with our entire being. We have been called to love with God's love that he may be glorified through us. Do not delight in evil but instead rejoice with the truth.

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