Scripture Reference: Matthew 4:18-25, Matthew 9:35-38
Love is Urgent
Matthew 5:24 First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Love has Selfless Intent
Matthew 5:28 Everyone who looks at a women with lustful intent has already committed adultery
Love is Candid
Matthew 5:37 Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”
Love is Unbalanced
Matthew 5:39 If anyone slaps you on the right check, turn to him the other also.
Love is Nonsensical
Matthew 5:44 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Love is Discreet
Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people.
by Loren Lewis
When I was in high school I use to dream about what it would be like to be in love. I dreamed of those magical moments that took your breath away and I felt for sure that life would become whole and complete when I met the one I would marry. I took in all the dramatic movies with the intense violin solos, slow motion scenes with a fading sunset. Love would be dramatic and passionate, it would sweep me off my feet, and surely it would be easy because, well…it’s true love.
Now in the midst of bills, long work days, diapers, and tantrums, I’ve looked around and realized that my dream might have been a little off. There is no sunset lighting as I scrub spit up off my yoga pants and there is no symphony playing as my husband walks through the door, just the dog going ballistic.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed beyond reason and have had my fair share of “movie moments”, but I’ve learned that what our culture teaches us about love is so different from reality and universes away from what Jesus taught and modeled.
See what Jesus modeled was so radically different from what our culture teaches. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus preached parts of familiar law that the people of that time would have known by heart, but Jesus then added to it, saying, “but I say to you…” He chose to show not only the rule they knew, but the heart behind the law. We were to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, love our enemies. And it is here where I see such a different and radical love than what I see in my world.
Jesus loved first. He loved those who hated him. He loved those who might not love Him back. He loved in the unseen moments and the seen. He loved those who were popular and those who were despised. He didn’t pick and choose. He simply loved.
Our culture is so often focused on the love we believed to have earned or the love we think we deserve. We focus on making room for those who are here for us and removing everyone else out of the picture. We fill our schedule with things and people that make us feel good and generally phase out the rest. While this doesn’t sound bad in theory, the underlying message is that love is about US and what we GET out of it. We fit right into the rest of the world, waiting to love until it’s appropriate and safe, waiting until we get what we believe we DESERVE.
But this is not the Love of Jesus.
Often when we think of love, we think of these large dramatic moments, but typically the moments that have meant the most to me, the moments that have shown the greatest love, have been small and quiet moments. Our love to this world is not always these grand events, it can be, but often it is a kind word here, a helping hand here, and persistence to not give up on someone. And are these not the moments that seem to be the hardest to give? To love when we are busy and caught up in our own world and schedule? What shines brightest in this world is the small light that keeps shining when all the others go out. It is the love that goes unseen and does not ask for anything in return that often can mean the most.
How badly do I desire recognition for my grand acts? I want my gold star, my big thank you and above all, to be loved back fiercely. It is easy to love in the grand moments and when love is so easily reciprocated, but Christ called us to go beyond that. To love the child who defiantly screams in our faces, to love the flaky friend, to love our grouchy neighbor next door, to love the odd ball in your office, to love the absent parent, to love the hateful stranger, to love the depressed spouse…
When Christ challenges us to follow Him, I am challenged to think about how I love. So often I think so much before I act and reach out, scared of what they might think or if I might be an interference. So often I withhold love to those I feel are unworthy in the moment or simply because they are different from me. But then I look on the face of my Jesus and remember he loved me first and calls me to do the same. He asks me to FOLLOW HIM.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35