Hashtag love wins.
But does it?
It’s interesting to me the epic collision of trendy ideals… the same mouths shouting that love wins are often the same mouths shouting that what’s most important is that they’re happy and that they live out their ‘truth’ …
And frankly, I think we need to scrape off some of the instagram glitter and figure out what that actually means, and if these ideas are mutually exclusive.
Ultimately, we have to define our terms, right? And often what we’re hollerin’ about when we say “Love Wins” has a much wider spectrum of what we mean than what we explain. We might shout “Love wins!” when our two best friends get married and they’re both dudes. We might shout “Love wins!” when talking about a relativistic faith that includes everyone in a shiny heaven. We might shout “Love wins!” when there are private battles overcome in our own hearts from Christ’s redemptive work.
Is the love that has our contemporary culture turning up the volume a word that means relational romance? Is it a love for self? Is it a spiritual love? A service-focused action-based love for others? WHAT IS “LOVE”?
It can get so confusing.
Yesterday I got a gorgeous Thank You card in the mail from my buddy Seth and his husband Chris, and at their wedding their love did win the day (their handmade dessert bar and perfect centerpieces also won the day, but I digress…)
The overall message of #LoveWins is so much much bigger than who is marrying who. I think LOVE is bigger than any of us give it credit for. The thing is, I ultimately believe that Love with a capital “L” DOES WIN. That Love being God Himself. Because love wouldn’t exist unless He decided. Love wouldn’t be knowable unless He not only designed our capacity, but also exemplified the truest version of love… selfless, unconditional, humble, forgiving…
What’s hard is that today most of the shouting about love doesn’t include His same heartbeat of selflessness, unconditional encompassing, humility and forgiveness. Actually, it doesn’t include Him at all!
Somehow, like with every other good thing from creation that we’ve managed to break or dilute or pervert, love means something far from what it used to. Nowadays I use love as an excuse to get my way.
When I offer ultimatums “If you love me you’ll __________ …”
When we decide it’s just not for us “I don’t love him anymore…”
When we adhere to adages that don’t even make sense “Love means never having to say you’re sorry…”
We are convoluting a purity that should electrify us! Catalyze us! Heal us!
We sting and subvert the ones we claim to love and then slap on a “Well, I just have to live my truth…” (Here’s looking at you every Real Housewives Reunion housewife’s excuse for bad behavior.)
Wouldn’t love on reality tv, but more importantly in the reality of our homes and churches and communities, look a whole lot more like asking for forgiveness? Seeking the good of those around us more than our own? Listening more than talking? Offering a hand out more than asking for a step up?
I want to change the hashtag to #LoveReallyDoesWin and plaster it all over photos of tired dads taking 2am feeding duty. 3rd graders protecting each other against bullies (and maybe even showing kindness to the meanies!) Clergy embracing people of diversity and disbelief. All candids. Nothing for show.
What would it look like if the ‘love’ we glamorized was the plainest? What if the attention we drew to love winning was all the places it needs to win, all the broken hearts and empty tummies and dirty hands and selfish ambitions that desperately need real love even if it costs us to offer it? (And it SHOULD cost us!)
A few months ago I went to Tijuana and was overwhelmed with what I experienced. Orphanages, trash dump cities, the red light district with underage prostitutes, shelters for battered women separated from their children… I wanted to share the needs with everyone I knew! So that we could bandy together to LOVE where love was needed. Someone sent me a nasty comment that they no longer wanted to follow me on social media because I had a “White Savior complex” … and that broke my spirit. I wasn’t angry, I was sad. I wasn’t posting pictures to get a pat on the back for loving well, I was trying to draw attention to the ways our worldwide church hasn’t loved well, and needs to love well – myself included!
Don’t expect that as you try to initiate conversations and actions that re-define what millennials and bedazzled televangelists preach as “love” that it will always be comfortable. Your motives and meaning will be questioned and maybe even balked at. It might get awkward or uncomfortable, but my friend, keep championing what you know to be true…
That of ALL the things our politically-chaotic and economically-topsy-turvy crazy culture needs today, it IS for love to win, and to be a part of the love that is victorious, we have to go first in showing a world that’s looking inward, that we are looking upward at our God and outward at the needs of those around us… just as Love has since He created mankind.
“God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards
on the Samaritan hillsides,
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time’s coming when watchmen will call out
from the hilltops of Ephraim:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion,
go to meet our God!’”
“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies…”
1 Corinthians 13:4-9