God is calling us to love. It’s plain and simple, yet profound. In the same child-like manner we are called to faith, we are called to love as well. Is it surprising that the two greatest commandments contain the word “love?”
This concept, the one of pure unfailing love, has been drilled into my head for many years, finally reaching into my heart. It has taken long enough, at the cost of many tears and much pain. But it didn’t have to be that way, it was my stubbornness and hardness of heart that took so long. I was so shortsighted. I chose something temporary, a quick fix, over something so eternal and majestic. I wanted the passing pleasures of sin rather than God’s love. I wanted the passing pleasures of sin too much to share that love with others. Basically, I chose to cake my eyes with sand and enjoy it. Sure, I fought it and I felt that battle within me that Paul talks about in Romans 7, but the fact is I still kept on choosing the sin no matter how much it tore me apart. I was a slave, addicted, and always eventually coming back for more. I was drugged with sin. What did it have to take for me to forgo my addiction? It took much pain, more than I could possibly bear on my own. I began to experience a lack of love in my life, and this lack brought me to my knees. Long story short, this lack brought me to the only One who would bring love into my life. It was a sure source that I had always heard about, but at the time I felt like I never really and truly experienced.
The love that I began to experience sure didn’t feel like love at the time. It hurt, it was very painful, and very much unenjoyable. To put it simply, I suffered. I suffered in every aspect of my life. All aspects were nothing but pressure and pain until I finally broke. The whole world was on top of me, with no pressure valve to release. In fact, all valves had been shut but one. That one valve was crying out to God for salvation and release. He showed me that He had been bringing me through all of this for a reason. The reason was to build me and prepare me for a future. All of this pain and suffering I was going through was not in vain. It was for a purpose. I finally realized why I had come to the place where I was. It was at that time my life really began to change radically. It was like I went to having a keychain light trying to find my way driving on a dusty road. I could see very little in front of me. God gave me the headlights to start cutting through the dust.
What were those headlights? Those headlights are the illumination of His love into my life. I began to see things I never would have dreamed or imagined. I began to experience life with Him in ways I’ve only read about in stories and heard through Scripture. I began to understand the scope of love that we are called to. I began to see what true love actually is, and that I cannot give that true love alone. Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that in all situations, our love has to come from Him completely. His love is a love that loves regardless of any expectation of anything in return. His love keeps loving, saying these people don’t know what they are doing as He hangs on a cross. How much more powerful can you get than that? Would you love the very people who ripped you to shreds and nailed you to a Roman political human billboard? I’ve realized that this has been the way I’ve been called to love. But this calling isn’t just mine, it’s all of us.
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.”
This has been something that we’ve all been missing, and it’s been right in front of our eyes. The Bible is littered with the calling for us to love, from the Genesis to Revelation. In one word to describe Scripture, it can simply be called Love. Love created Adam and Eve, but also clothed them when they sinned and gave us the hope of a Savior. Love saved Noah and his family, gave hope for a provision of sacrifice, and led the Israelites out of the wilderness and out from under the hand of Egyptian oppression they had lived under for so long. Love provided kings for Israel because they wouldn’t listen to their King and to help them understand their real King. Love provided prophets who were the only righteous in a whole city to give the people of God a hope for a future. Love, after 400 years of silence, provided a virgin and a place for a Savior to be born. Love began to illuminate the lives of those whom the Savior interacted. Love then suffered and died on the cross for not just those people who both loved and tormented Him, but for all generations who would do the same. Love then sent His Spirit to make a home in the temples of our hearts, so that He is accessible to all. Love sent messengers to both gentiles and Jews, preaching a message of hope and of love. That same Love enabled those people to suffer beatings, to be sawn in two, to have their families turn against them, to be shipwrecked, malnourished, cold, and afflicted in every way to share that same love with others. Love gave us a plethora of material in not only how to stay in that love, but also how to share that love with others in how we treat ourselves and others. Love then gave us that final hope, the hope that one day we will be with that Love, securely in His arms for eternity. This Love showed us love from the beginning, and then for many, many generations to come. Now, in our current generation, I think it’s time that we begin to find that love, and then begin to fulfill our highest calling given to us by Love Himself – to go to all nations spreading that very love.