Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Love

Love, in its purest sense, is something I've struggled to really understand.  So much of human love is wrapped around performance and meeting standards that we have for one another.  Sort of an "If you do good, then I will be pleased and show you love.  If you do bad, then I will be unhappy and my love for you will be strained or even gone."  We all fall back into this, at best only sometimes, at worst then all the time.  We are a people that have mastered conditional love.

But Christ... now he is the one that has mastered unconditional love.  Even when he took on flesh, had his reputation ruined, was rejected by his hometown, had people plotting (and ultimately succeeding in) his death, he still loved unconditionally.  Completely.  Instead of always going towards the outwardly shiny, pretty people, he took a beeline for the outcast... the prostitute, the adulterer, the cheat, the liar, the outwardly broken.  And he loved them unconditionally.  They didn't have to clean up or act a certain way before he came to them.  He came to them regardless.  As fully God as well as fully man, let's face it... Jesus was and IS better than those outcasts.  He's better than all of us.  And yet he humbled himself to love the unloveable, to reach the unreachable.  That includes you and me.  The fact is that the Creator of the Universe, the Word that became flesh, truly IS better than we are.  He is holy, righteous, perfect, and a bunch of other things we can never be.  But we are no better than anyone else.  The outcasts of Jesus' day and the outcasts of today are just as much in need of Jesus as you and I.  The outcasts of Jesus' day and the outcasts of today have the same black heart in need of Christ's blood to cleanse it as we do. The truth is, WE are outcasts as well... some of us just hide it better from one another.  But we can't hide it from God.  We are all outcasts deserving of hell.  None of us are worthy, not one.

The great news is that Jesus blood was poured out for all of us, even while we were outcasts, while we were dead.  And we can ALL be made new in Him.  Not just the outwardly shiny ones, but ALL of us can be made new.

It's one thing to know and believe this, and another thing to live like this.  Pride is an ugly thing, and it lives to destroy true love.  Pride and judgement work to set up the conditions in which others deserve our love.  "Jump through my hoops, and I'll show you love."  "Clean up for me, and I'll show you love."  "Don't show me that mess that is your heart and paste on a smile, and I'll show you love."  We begin to believe these lies and apply them to others, drawing a line in the sand on who we can show favor to and who we should not.  And we believe these lies and apply them to ourselves.  We decide if we just look just so, or keep our real feelings bottled up, or do enough tricks, then FINALLY someone will show us love.  And wouldn't we deserve that love - after all, look at all the work we did in being so shiny to get it!

I'm looking in the mirror, and it's not a pretty thing.  Turns out my shiny was really a bunch of rust and decay... an illusion.  And the shiny I expected others to have... turns out I look an awful lot like the Pharisees who decided who did and did not deserve favor.  Oh, I may not outwardly act that way (it's part of the illusion), but the deep dark parts of  my heart know better.

The mirror is necessary, because in seeing who I really am - a messy rebellious outcast - I see my great need for a Savior.  And in seeing that need, my pride goes down and my heart goes soft, ready to receive the God that died for me.  And in my need for the God that loves my soul unconditionally, I can see that the outcasts of today really aren't different than I am.  We may have different struggles, different sins we battle, different appearances, different circumstances... but our hearts?  Depraved.  Messy.  Broken.  Evil.  Needing a Savior to make us new...

God made me new.  In that restoration He brought into my life, I want to share that same love with others.  And I don't get to pick and choose who gets it on the merits of appearance or performance.  Because if God did that, I would still be dead.  Shouldn't all people, whether fully alive or still dead, be able to see and feel God's amazing unconditional love?  Who are we to pick and choose?

The answer is obvious.  If the Most High didn't pick and choose who is worthy to be loved, we don't get to either.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:28-31

1 comment:

  1. AMEN!!!! Now if I could FULLY grasp this and live like this....

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