I write a lot about love here, and sometimes I’m worried that I’m becoming one of those lovey-dovey types whom everyone scoffs at, taking the easy route of focusing on the love of God and the love of Jesus because it is appealing and it’s easy to talk about. Things like taking responsibility for our sins and challenging ourselves to do things that are out of our comfort zones on a regular basis and serving others sacrificially and deepening and broadening and stretching our faith muscles – these are the things that make us grow, make us trust in God, make us disciples. Life is hard; treat it as such.
When I think of the Biblical command to love, I think of what love looks like coming from me. Love looks light and easy and fun – smiles, laughing, kisses and hugs. Helping and caring for others are positive things, things that I do to express love. These things make me happy, make me feel like I’m doing good things, like I am fulfilling God’s intentions for my life.
But my imagination is so limited. These are just the things that I can think of doing in love. Love is so much more than that, and when I think of God as the source of love and what God can do and has done in love, my efforts pale in comparison.
Plus, I will offer that love can be hard.
Love is hard when others make it hard to be loved, when you have strongholds that prevent you from loving, when someone has hurt you in the past or if they are hurting you today. Love is hard when you feel you are being persecuted. Loving others who argue and refuse to accept you is hard. Loving others is hard when you can’t see them, when you can’t physically do anything for them, when it is easier to turn your head away from their needs. Love is hard when you feel as if your resources are tapped out.
I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grandchild, and a friend. My relationships call for love. This love is in the form of sacrifice, turning the other cheek, doing things that scare me, serving people who are against me, loving my enemy, whomever it may be today – the guy who flipped me off on the road, the woman who cut in front of me at the deli, the kid in my child’s life who I just don’t trust. Love comes into play in my life daily, and it is not all kisses and laughter. I am an example of love in all things to my children and husband, friends and extended family, those I serve.
All of us get the chance to experience God’s love, and all of us are called to show it in every different way imaginable. God’s love is beyond that which I can give – it comes from him first. If God hadn’t loved us first, there would be no love to give, no love to show, no love in our lives at all. When I remember that, showing love to others makes more sense when it becomes difficult. Showing love begins to take on more forms than those I come up with on my own, and some of those forms include taking responsibility for my sins, being challenged to do scary things, serving sacrificially, and growing my faith.
So I guess it’s not so bad that I write a lot about love here.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4: 7-12 (NIV)