I’ve had some less than comforting conversations with certain people in my life lately that leave me with a pit in my stomach and a painful ache in my heart. The words spoken remind me of the devastating effect false representation and the enemy’s lies can have on God’s creation, his human creation most of all.
Ever heard the phrases, “Thanks for picking up the slack” or “If only they had been more responsible” before?
Another phrase I’ve heard a lot lately, “Love always wins.”
Without worrying about pc-friendly terminology, I have to reply to that one, what a crock.
And before I get crucified, let me tell you. I DO believe Love always wins. I DON’T believe a lot of people who say that phrase actually live like they believe it.
Let me explain. We use the word love for a lot of things that actually have nothing whatsoever to do with love. We LOVE our new car. We LOVE our presidential candidate. We LOVE our clothes. We LOVE that new movie. What we really mean is that the car, the clothes, the candidate, the movie, all give us a sensation like pleasure. We FEEL something that makes us happy when we think of that object or person, but LOVE has nothing to do with it.
In other languages, there are different words to describe various levels and forms of what we in English call LOVE. We wrap up shallow, surface sensation within deeper, more abiding context and it’s no wonder we confuse ourselves when it comes to the real deal.
We spout platitudes and tell people we’re “in love” and it leaves us with all the depth of a quick Adrenalin rush after the 100 meter dash. It’s great and it feels good, but it’s over in moments and what’s left? The come-down after a temporary high.
So what IS love?
It’s not a feeling, I can tell you that right now.
- giving generously without reproach
- forgiving seventy times seven and then forgiving once more
- laying down your life for another
- looking after the poor and the widow and those who have been oppressed and beaten down
- advocating for the ones who have no voice to speak for themselves
- opening your home to the least of these, clothing them and feeding them and giving them resources to get back on their feet
- making a vow and remaining faithful through daily, moment by moment choices to overlook the other’s faults and open your heart regardless of whether the other fully understands how vulnerable that makes you
- making the hard decision because the easy one only leads to long term pain and no lasting gain
- patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not puffed up with pride
- it does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs
- it does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth
- it ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, and ALWAYS perseveres
- it NEVER fails
- it is the GREATEST virtue in the entire world and yet it is the LEAST used
- it’s an action NOT a feeling
- brings healing, restoration, and redemption
Every one of these definitions I got straight from one source. Can you guess what source?
“Love always wins” gets thrown around when the newest law is handed down from on high. It is spoken when a special interest group “wins” a big legal battle against the “intolerant” and “bigoted” offender. Religious leaders even use it to push their doctrinal agendas.
Love ALWAYS wins because HE already won. It happened on a wooden torture device, on a hill bathed in the blood of both innocent and guilty, when a Savior embodied the greatest example of True Love as He drew his last breath and committed His Spirit into His Father’s hands.
The greatest definition of love in the end isn’t actually a decision or a feeling.
The greatest definition of Love is the person of Jesus Christ.
And anything less than what He demonstrated on that cross and in every living, breathing moment of His existence here on earth, is a pale, poor imitation of what Love actually is.
We were made in His image, but don’t for ONE MOMENT think that makes us capable of the kind of Love He pours out on us day in and day out.
When we reach out to a sick friend to lend them a helping hand, that’s a pale demonstration of Christ’s Love. When we offer our services for a hurting family who is broken and desperate for a way out of the mess, it’s just imitation and a pale one at that. When we give our time, money, and selves for a ministry that serves the poor and downtrodden, we are just barely scratching the surface of what Christ’s love looks like.
When we accept that everything we have to give in the name of love is NEVER enough, then we can accept that the only one who can is the One who defines and lives it perfectly.
And when we accept that, then He is free to infuse us with Himself, to love others through us, and to represent His love to a world that is dying without it. Ultimately, that is the greatest form of love.
Loving us enough to give us Himself in our place. When the world sees me, I don’t want them to see my paltry excuse for what I define as love.
I want them to see Love (in the form of Jesus Christ) in all HIS glory.