Love Alive: The Start, End, and Forever After

Love is Saving

                The word saving like the word love encompasses a lot. To save implies preservation, protection, rescuing from harm. To say that love is saving suggests that loving is an activity that gives life. he-drew-me-out-of-deep-waters-steve-alberts

Love does not take away from us or something else. Scripture suggests in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is the greatest and most enduring thing to ever exist. If we had nothing else but love, we would still be rich or full.

Love is the redemptive currency of God. It can reveal worth to those that feel they had nothing left to live for. It can overjoy those who felt like they had so much.  Love provokes us to declare unashamedly how great God’s love is. Love likes to announce its availability because of its innate desire to want to be shared.

But how does any of this mean love saves? Love saves because of its effect on fear. When we experience times of desperation, it is most certainly over the fear of what we have lost or what we fear we will lose. But 1 John 4:18 shows me that God’s perfect love eradicates fear. It sends fear packing, and fearless people are unhindered to freely live. Without fear we are confident because we are secure in love. To be saved from any life-threatening circumstance suggests that you are now protected and alive and grateful for it.

Jesus loved in this way. It’s why He could suffer execution and expect resurrection.

He was secure in love, filled by love, and moved to love in the most extravagant way the world could ever know.

He died and raised to life to remove the dark, fearful lives we are tempted to live by.

He died to remove the consequences of the actions that hinder love and resurrected so we would know the power of God to live love-full.

I’m so grateful God let me know about His love and got to experience it’s saving power.

Its Valentine’s Day and the Creator of Romance lived a love story for humanity. We can read it, we can live it, we can love it.

Love Steady: Moving With You

Love is Staying

Loyal love is the definition of mercy. It’s the kind of love that endures through suffering. It’s the portion of the resilient, perfect love of God that is necessary for imperfect people to live full lives and have any type of lasting love. Because at some point, or perhaps more often than we would like to know, we hurt the ones we love. And we can only hope that when we hurt someone we love, we would hurt enough along with them to ask for forgiveness quickly and find ways to set things right.

I genuinely want to feel someone else’s pain to know the gravity of my selfish decision. Ideally, I would have liked to not make a selfish or hurtful decision in the first place. I want the option of a quick reconciliation; of course, that usually requires a measure of time for processing that is proportional to the wrong. One thing I don’t want is to feel pain in isolation. In lve-steadythe times we do feel pain quietly alone, it requires a surrendering of all feelings and wounds to the healing touch of Jesus. Otherwise a root forms in our heart, wrapping around it, to try and brings us back to that moment or person who hurt us so we feel the pain again. Not only might we feel it but we let that hurt be the reason we don’t trust or love or continually forgive.

What does any of this have to do with a staying love? I’ll tell you. The person who hurt you, do you still love them? If that’s too hard to vocalize since it’s just a word, do you hope the best for them; do you bless them? Do you love still? There is an enduring nature to love.  If love is real; it doesn’t die. It may dry like blood because love like blood needs reciprocation. It needs flow for love to be alive. But dry love is still love. God searches our hearts and continues to work on them so we would have love for our enemies and a love that is still, is steady, is staying, during trial and pain as well as in the easier times of celebration.

I love that God who is love does this. I love that God created something so complex yet so potentially all-consuming as love, to make us aware how much we are worth to Him. I’m glad love is demonstrable; I’m glad it’s felt. I’m glad it doesn’t cast aside or throw away. I’m grateful God placed this potential for love in the human heart. I’m glad it was sent. I’m glad it is seen. I’m glad it stays. I’m glad God’s Spirit has stayed despite the reasons I give sometimes that would suggest God should leave.

Love Sight: Keep Beholding

Love is Seeing

Some people believe in love at first sight. While it might be tempting to suggest that one saw love before they stepped toward love; it would be wrong. In order to occupy space with the one we propose to have affection for, someone took a step whether it was a conscious one or not. So a step precedes sight. God, however can consciously complete every movement of love all at once because well, God is God and God can. God creates, steps toward, sees, stays and saves all at once. For everyone else there is a process before the spark. I’m not entirely opposed to the sentiment of love at first sight but the initial seeing is not what I will write about today.

seeing-love

The seeing I am referring to is beyond the point of initial physical attraction, though that is important I believe to a degree, in romance. What I am referring to is a seeing or perceiving through experiencing a person’s character. This could be better defined as taking the time to get to know someone. Giving one’s time to this task is in it of itself an act of love. To be known is to be loved. To get to know is to love. For there to be intimacy, individuals probe the depths of one another’s hearts and imagination to understand a person more fully. It is both a beautiful and terrifying process.

Because: what if we find out something about a person that we don’t like or find out that person has struggles that we didn’t know about at first? What if they have bad breath, or didn’t make as much money as we hoped, or what if that person is in a rough season, or what if they don’t have as many clear answers as we thought they had? None of this intimidated Jesus.

In John 13 Jesus washes the feet of his twelve disciples, the ones He knew and loved for 3 years. Jesus does this as one who already sees and knows them, but is also giving the disciples an opportunity to see and know Him more deeply while preparing them to see and love one another more deeply. The strategy of Jesus is brilliant because whenever He shows us something, He also encourages us and empowers us to do the same. Furthermore, Jesus washes the feet of even the one He knows will betray Him. Jesus sees, and what He sees is dark and dirty, yet He loves anyway.

My tendency is to fall more in love with people as time goes on, whether it be a friend or a romantic interest. If I enjoy spending time with someone a little bit, I will likely enjoy spending time with them a lot. It becomes a challenge for me to love others when they present a dishonest version of themselves. I think it has a lot to do with the enduring nature of love, the more love sees, the deeper one gets, the more time we choose to give when love is mutually shared, the stronger and more freeing that love becomes. Love grows in reciprocation. When both parties behold and abide, love grows. If one stops beholding or in some cases betrays, love can run dry from a one way flow.

I hope I keep seeing and allowing myself  to be seen by God and others. I hope to never forget the flow of giving and receiving love. Jesus, preserve our hearts as our eyes stay set on love.

Love Step: Pass the Note

So in less than 2 weeks I’ll be preaching to a group of college students on love and I’m using the Scriptures 1 John 4:7-21 and John 13:1-20 to talk about the movements of love that proceed out of the character of God. It’s also a few days after Valentine’s Day so leading up to then I am choosing to blog about from the 4 points of the sermon. Enjoywriting-love-letters

Love is Sending

Our initial moments of love involve a movement towards someone. Perhaps a literal step, or the passing of a note, or an introduction.  A step of love is always forward moving which is why God sent His son to us. Occasionally love may stand its ground but it never retreats. Love is sending before it can be transcending. In other word’s love starts and begins somewhere before it flourishes. With God, it started before creation with the idea that love in Christ, who was slain before foundation of the world, would play out in a story. Humanity became aware of God’s love, with Jesus.

Scripture tells us this started at His birth, the Incarnation, when God became man, first as a baby. We would be safe in saying that love is born, but before it is born, there is a sense of expectancy before its birth. Attached to the first step of love is a risk. There is real risk in God sending His Son because of the free will in others to reject Him.

The seed of love is a movement of faith, which is why in certain circumstances, an introduction, or passing a note can feel weighty. The weight is in the possibility of rejection, yet love must reject the notion of rejection to remain hopeful and strong and real.

Have you ever passed a “circle yes or no” note? I have, and depending on who you would ask, I did it because it was cute or I was a coward. For some of us passing a note is a step of courage, others approach comparable and even more vulnerable situations with relative ease to the point where needing courage does not even register. Usually, we attribute this to confidence. And I believe confidence has a lot with our ability to love, which is why to give love, we must first know love. You cannot give what you do not have.

But how do we gain love? To gain love albeit a small portion is to accept that it has been sent, and more specifically that it has been sent to you, for you, and without a condition that you become something different than who you are before you receive it. It requires the willingness to receive love by being vulnerable about who we are, while recognizing what we are worth to God, which is priceless. If you want to put a price tag on it, you are worth the blood of perfection, and the perfect love Jesus shows us potentially can make us free of fear. It requires accepting the note that was passed to you. It requires accepting the person, the God who was sent to you. I’m glad I am worth that much.