Written mostly by Blake, with a little help from me :). May God get all the glory, honor, and praise!
I’ve been thinking about love and faith a lot recently. God has really been destroying my ideas of love and compassion and is actively placing within me a whole new understanding of true love. I’m not talking about the fairytale love; I’m talking about unfailing love. This brings me to one of the biggest questions I’m faced with, “Can true love fail?”
If you step back and think in a logical way about what we see in the world around us – you would obviously say yes, true love does fail. Perhaps many of you have said, “I love you” to someone, and yet today you despise them. What could possibly cause this lapse? If you look at scripture, it emphasizes love about almost everything else. The Bible describes faith being expressed through love, that love can cover a multitude of sins, and of course that a primary characteristic of God is that He is love. What then is wrong with love today? Why is it so quickly fleeting and failing?
As God has been speaking to me about this He has shown me aspects of Him – ways in which He intended to illustrate Himself to the world that seem to be missing today. For instance, I’ve been reading a lot of the Psalms and within them David continually is praying to God out of need being weary from running, torn by sin, or strained from an absence of God’s presence. Yet that is only how the Psalm starts. Midway through these Psalms, David begins to recant on His distress and notice the beauty of God’s unfailing, fully trustworthy love. By the end of the Psalm David has is praising God through the midst of His struggles!
What would cause a man to go from weary desperation and destitution to praise without anything being resolved? The only explanation we can gather is the love of God. This love, how can it cause someone to rejoice in pain? We have all felt this love at some point in our lives, but how many of us are sustained by it?
Imagine a life where your dependency and desire for love is fully sustained in the Father through your devotion to Him! With this love, you are able to love your enemies, to love those who hate you, to better love those who love you, and best of all to love your spouse with the overflow of God’s love instead of a faulty fabrication of sinful humanity. Imagine not needing your spouse to love you. Imagine every day of your life being so completely overflowing with pure, unfailing love from your Father that you can do nothing more than to continually pour the excess of that love into your spouse! When they love you back it is only a blessing! When something is wrong and the love isn’t evident you are fully sustained in the Father’s love! Now imagine what kind of marriage that would be if both you and your spouse had that same devotion, not to each other – but to the Father. The love you express to your spouse would not be your own but the overflow of His love – which is always unfailing!
The key to all of this – loving our enemies, those who hate you, or even your friends and spouse – is loving them in such a way that nothing is expected in return. It is a selfless love that flows from the Father Himself. It is perfect and unfailing, so long as it keeps flowing from Him. That love still loves no matter the response, pride does not reside in love so as to throw a rude response back, and it doesn’t envy the other person’s position or boast in one’s own. It doesn’t even enjoy when another does wrong, but rather enjoys when they rest in Truth. This kind of love doesn’t even insist on it’s own way, even if the other way proves difficult. It lets it go and allows our creator to be in control instead of us. It doesn’t get irritated and resentful at either the person or circumstance. It is patient when we have to wait on them for any reason, kind when they slander, enduring when there seems to be no hope, hopes all things when they seem furthest from Christ and the right relationship, believes all things because our hope comes from God, and bears every strain through the strength of Christ. This love never fails.
If we look to a recent example in Christian culture, we have the movie Fireproof. In the movie, the man is utterly in sin and it severely affects not only his relationship with his wife, but also his relationship with God. When he starts to learn to trust, love, and have faith in God, that in turn enabled him to love his wife in the way that God does. If you remember, all of his efforts to show her love were fruitless, even resulting in anger and frustration on her side. Yet he continued showing that love, even when he wanted to give up. Eventually she sees that her husband loves her much more than his sin or anything that would hinder their relationship. Their love is much deeper than even when they started, because their love wasn’t their own, but it was from the Father. The example and even the concept are simple, but the true test comes in the application of that love. It’s the same love that He loves the church with, a deep unfailing intimate love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: “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.”
Now step back and look at the world, or perhaps just the Church. What percentage of them express failing love instead of unfailing love? What is the difference in the divorce rate in the Church and in the rest of the world? And we wonder why the world doesn’t want to jump on board with Christ. We have become lukewarm – detestable to God! The beautiful picture of His unfailing love for the world which was to be expressed through marriage has been destroyed! Instead of full commitment to the Father, we have mixed aspects of Him with our own desires. We have come to think we are worthy of such a love, and when we aren’t getting what we deserve, we leave that person to find it elsewhere. Since when have we ever deserved love of any kind, let alone a pure and holy love that does not fail and is completely selfless?!
It is easy for us to become self-centered, especially for us younger people that have not yet been married, taking dating commitments lightly and trying to find what we want out of someone instead of letting God lead us to the person we can pour into! Why are we always looking out only our interests? This is the lukewarm part that I’m talking about. True devotion to God yields a dependence on Him and His love; it is selfless! If selfishness has any part of our decision-making process, is it at least possible if not probable that we have something wrong?
I’m not in any way advocating divorce for those of you who are married and think it must not have been led by God because you are no longer satisfied. My suggestion is the same for you as it is for everyone else. Love through God not through your own methods. Let God lead your marriage just as we who are not married should let God lead us to our future spouse or to singleness if that’s what He desires! Learn to love God above even your spouse so that your love to your spouse can be complete!
I said I was thinking not just about love but also faith. There is quite a significant reasoning for that in that our faith is to be expressed through love. Galatians 5:6 states, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” The reason I’ve been thinking so much about these two together is that they are coupled so intensely! How can we have love if we do not have faith in the Father – the One who is Love? How can we love unfailingly unless we are faithful to Him and receiving that love from Him? Simply put we can’t! Since it is through our faith that we are counted righteous and the same One that is imparting our righteousness is also the One who is love, they cannot be separated! 2 Corinthians 5:7: “We live by faith, not by sight.” If we are living by faith and not by our own sight, how can we possibly choose our own way? If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, how can we look at a path different from the one He is leading us to walk?
There is an argument that has been presented to me when I suggest that we are not to decide what we do, but instead we are to be led by the Father. This argument is pulled from verses like 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” With this verse we have developed a rationale for doing whatever we want as long as we can say it will glorify God. However, if we keep reading this passage verses 32 and 33 state, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” The purpose of our lives isn’t for us! How about looking a little deeper into the motives of our decisions? What about the end of Romans 14:23 which states, “… and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”? Since when have we been put in charge of our own lives or have they not been bought with a price? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 7:23-24: “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.”
What did Jesus say we are called to? John 13:12-17 states, “When He had finished washing their feet, he put on His clothes and returned to His place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them. ‘You call Me ‘Teacher ‘ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’” Our calling is to be servants not masters. What servant decides his own way? Does he not instead do what the Master tells him? Why then are our choices made on our own, and after we decide to do what we want, we try to tack God onto it and say we are doing it for him? Instead we should be led, guided and strengthened by our Father to do all that He desires! We are to be dying to self so that Christ can live within us! Matthew 16:24: “The Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12: “but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”
What if we were to change this? What if we were to live through faith expressed in love, and be focused on our Father beyond anything else? How different will our lives look? How different could our world look? Perhaps it’s time for a revival of hearts! Perhaps God is seeking this change and building this revival! But how many are listening to Him? How many of us are instead consumed with our own versions of “Christianity” that we do not seek our Father’s face? It’s time for this change! Habakkuk 1:5: “Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
This is neither my logic nor my words. Those of you who know me and know my past can attest to this. You have seen me fail at even this many times and even recently. I have spent many years of my life developing my theology and philosophy of life, but few years knowing my Father so intimately. Many times in the last couple years my logic seemed undeniable yet somehow still wrong – it was! At the time when I thought I had completed my paradigm, God changed it all. For it is not my paradigm that I should live through but His! Ephesians 6:19: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make know the mystery of the gospel.” I have not lived most of my life like this, especially the last couple years! Yet it is how I desire to live it from now on, and through His power I will do so!
Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Ephesians 5:1-2: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Philippians 1:20-21: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”