TRUE LOVE IS DIFFICULT
Why is love so difficult? The spectrum lies between grace and law, east and west. If I love by the law, there is structure, rules and I get “points” for doing good to others and God. However, if I love with grace, there is little structure, no reward, no points, and it can be messy. God didn’t say love one another IF or BUT…
He said not only love the people who are friendly, kind and loving to you, but love those who are not lovely, not caring, not kind, not friendly, and not encouraging -He told us to love our enemies. This is difficult.
In a recent article by Corinne Carver in Relevant Magazine, How To Love People You Don’t Even Like, Carver says, “whether it is a negative coworker, an exhausting friendship or a challenging family member, there are times when we just want to give up on people and feel as though all our love and patience has run out.”
However, often times, we fail to ask the question of ourselves…am I a difficult person to love? Carver goes on to say, “This is probably the most crucial question of all. You may be wondering why this would have anything to do with you, but when it comes down to it, we have all been difficult people to love. We have been difficult for our parents, our friends, our spouses, our bosses, our mentors. Examining your own faults can humble you when it is difficult to love someone. Because Jesus didn’t just die for the sin of the difficult person in our life, He died for yours too, and you also need His grace every single day. ”
“…there are times when we just want to give up on people and feel as though all our love and patience has run out.”
LOVE TAKES TRUST
The human condition is that to love takes trust. Love is not just about tolerance. Love is deeper than that, love REQUIRES trust. This is risky and threatening to us, so instead we choose “emotional insulation” from those who might potentially hurt us. Maybe the notion of “love” equates to injury or harm from our growing up years. So when someone says they love us, we cringe, shrink back and run away. Often times this can lead to feelings of not being capable or deserving of the one true love, God’s love. We think of love as conditional, “God will love me…IF”. It has to be earned, so I will do good to get brownie points with God.
At times we will show love to others, without trusting them. In a recent article in Spirit & Truth Blog entitled, Love Requires Trust, author Luke Seavers discusses I Cor. 13, arguably the most profound piece of scriptural text on the subject of love. Seavers talks about how love and trust need to go hand-in-hand, but often we try to separate them.
He writes, “I was recently convicted by this truth that love takes trust. Ministry is meant to flow out of love. That is the whole premise of 1 Corinthians 13: you can have extreme faith, you can prophesy, you can suffer persecution, you can give all your money to the poor, you can serve at a soup kitchen, you can sing at a nursing home, you can preach to a foreign nation… but if you do not have love, it is meaningless.”
“I was convicted because I realized that, in my ministry to the homeless, I was ministering to people that I really did not trust. There are unfortunate stereotypes of homeless people. Many are scammers, ungrateful, and entitled. The problem is, if I minister with these things in mind, I am not believing the best about the person, and I am not fully loving them.”
“… I realized that, in my ministry to the homeless, I was ministering to people that I really did not trust.”
IIn today’s broadcast of the T. Randolph and Friends podcast, T. Randolph talks about, “God’s Shoelace.”
Imagine our lives like a clean, white shoelace. Soft, smooth, fresh and new… much like our lives after we receive God’s redemption in our lives. When God touches our lives with grace that we do not deserve, we are more compelled to share His gracious love with others. But somewhere along the way, we lose sight of His grace, and choose to not love someone else. This is the first knot in the shoelace. Then we exclude others and gossip about others…tying another knot in that no longer fresh lace. We avoid others, we take from others, we stop caring…and tie another knot in that shoelace. We listen to the voice that says, “I’m not good enough for God to love me”…and tie knot upon knot in that shoelace.
Over time “God’s Shoelace”, the gift of abundant life that he gave to us, has become a knotty, dirty, ugly, mess: tangled strands of our own selfishness, our own pride, our own arrogance and conditional love.
Sometimes the knots are tied by an attitude of, ‘I want to be perceived as a good person because I do good deeds for others.” However, love is not a mathematical formula of doing good to others to gain acceptance from God and from people. Listen to how T. Randolph uncovers this mystery, as he discusses the difference between love according to society’s standards and the teachings of Jesus.
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