Monday, November 10, 2014

Love: What is it? What does it do?

Love is something everyone says they want, everyone says they have, everyone says they share yet love is something very few people can define or describe. When most describe love, or try to define love, it's always centered around them. How they feel, how they act, etc. What little I know about love it seems it's about others, not about self.

The apostle Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not arrogant; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, keeps no account of wrongdoing; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

Paul and the apostle John believed love to be the defining characteristic of God, therefore, they felt it should be the defining characteristic of God's people, themselves. Yet, in today's church we have euphemisms for our love, like "tough love" and "love the sinner, hate the sin" which are ways we justify not showing love the way Paul described it to our fellow man, our fellow Christians and even our family members. It's our way of excusing our behavior, or in the game of Christianity we play, it's our "get out of jail free card."

I've justified my own desires not to help someone by claiming that by not helping them I was doing them more good than if I helped them. Really? How could I ever justify that to myself, much less to God? Had I had to stand before Christ in that moment and answer for my life, I don't think my answer of 'I was doing them more good by not feeding them when they were hungry so that they would be forced to get a job or learn how to better control their spending than if I had bought them dinner or even invited them into my home and prepared them a meal' would have sat very well with Christ.

So, how then can I say I love my fellow man when I refuse to help those I see who are in need and I have the means to do good for them? How can I say I love someone when I work so hard to make sure they have no choice in how they live their life? So what if I disagree with their choice? It's THEIR choice, not mine! Thankfully God loved me even when He disagreed with the choices I was making in my life which He didn't approve of. He didn't relegate me to the back burner or block me out of His life because He disagreed with my choices. I'm ever so grateful that God doesn't love me the way I love others. That He doesn't use my standards for accepting me like I use to accept others. Yet, I pray that He helps me to love the way He loves; and that He helps me to hold others to the standards He holds me to, and forgive them the way He forgives me when they don't measure up to them. And to never turn my back on someone because their choices are something that I don't agree with.

If God treated us the way we treat others, not a single one of us would have a chance for anything other than eternal hell and outer darkness. Thankfully, He's bigger and better than that, and His love is, as well.