I love love. I mean who doesn’t? Deep down inside we all long to be loved and to give love, even the most cynical and hardened hearts. But I obnoxiously love love. Tell me how you met your spouse. Tell me about how much you love your dog. I enjoy taking it all in and hearing all the sentimental fluffy parts.
I know. Some of you are gagging at the thought of it. Hang on though, I promise this post isn’t going to be about fluffy love.
The truth is, I used to simply think of myself as sentimental and hid behind my personality to hold onto a shallow view of love. But God, in His goodness, wrecked my rose-colored world in order to reshape my definition of love. And now, whenever someone talks about love I don’t solely imagine the fun, fluffy, romantic parts, but rather I also see the grueling hard disciplines that also define love.
As we heard earlier this week, Love is patient. It’s kind. It doesn’t boast. It never envies. It’s not selfish, easily angered, and it doesn’t hold a grudge. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13).
I don’t know about you, but this kind of love doesn’t sound fluffy at all. Rather it sounds intense, purposeful, and selfless. To add to that I want to give you my favorite and least favorite verse on love:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Love to the point of death. And although few of us will have the opportunity and privilege to physically lay down our lives for another, all of us have the daily task of dying to our desires, to our flesh, for the sake our friends.
Friends, can I tell you something? I love the idea of this verse when I’m the one who is receiving the love. I love imagining my husband laying down his life for me. I love the idea of my friends being selfless and giving for my sake when I’m wounded or wrong or just in need of some TLC.
But the idea of giving myself up for someone else? Yeah no. Hard pass.
I know that cost and it makes me tremble with fear. You see, love is beautiful in many different ways, but the love Christ has called us to is more than just a pleasant feeling.
It’s a constant dying to oneself.
It’s saying no to YOUR wants and desires for the sake of others and ultimately the Gospel.
It’s forgiving your siblings, parents, spouse, or friends for wounding you deeply and then choosing to love and selflessly serve them again.
It’s picking up the phone for that needy friend at 2:30am or opening up your home when you’re exhausted and finally just put your feet up.
Love looks this overused idea of self-care straight in the eyes and says, “Sure I’ll be a good steward of my body and time and resources, but that looks mostly like giving it all away for the kingdom’s sake.” That doesn’t mean we don’t rest and neglect ourselves. (I’m looking at you over-achieving people pleasers who can’t say no, because love also is saying NO sometimes). But it means that more often than not, we put the good of others first and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Love is a many splendored thing (name that movie for 5+ points), but let us not forget that the love that we are called to live-out looks like a God coming to earth as man, living a perfect life, and being beaten and shamed and ultimately killed so that He could overcome death and sin and be raised from the dead so that you and I could live in eternity with Him, restored. Every wound healed, every tear wiped away.
Greater love has no one than this.
And that is the love we’re called to replicate today.
Hopers, I say this with timidity because I know the cost and the hard thing that He’s calling us to, but I also know that joy is ever-present, even in the laying down. Christ never said it’d be easy, nor did He say we wouldn’t suffer. But He did say He’d never leave us, and His word tells us that His love will fuel this crazy selfless love in our own lives in seasons of joy, pain, and the everyday in between.
So this week as we talk about love and as you live a life of love on mission, I want to leave you with these questions:
Who is God calling you to lay down your life for? Your family? Friends? That outsider?
How can you selflessly love and lay down your life?
What is one tangible way you can love like Jesus this week?