I’ve been seeing this hashtag circulating around social media a lot lately—likely in light of all the violence and hatred going on around the world. It is simply #lovewins. I like that hashtag. It’s a nice one. It has made me think about and ask the Lord why our love is failing…why our love for others is weak…how we can claim our love is not bias, yet our hearts reek of a love that shows favoritism…why we feel more compelled to stand behind a manufactured social movement that sounds pretty but fades fast and not behind the cross whose shadow swallows our lives and places them in Christ’s.
I believe He showed me part of the problem. It seems kind of elemental, but I figured I would share for those who may be wrestling with the same questions.
I think most human beings believe they are capable of love to a degree—even the most wicked and godless. Most love their parents, their spouse…their children. Some love the environment. Some love their pets. Some love their friends and their social circles. Some love specific people groups. But do we love as Christ loves—do we love ALL…even the most UNDESERVING, the difficult…the ones who are not currently the “it” ones…the ones who appear privileged…the ones who are dirty, stinky, sweaty…the ones who are bitter and angry…the ones who are arrogant…the ones who are so small and so hidden that no one will ever know we loved them? Do we love the ones that make us want to roll our eyes in disgust? Do we love as silently in our hearts as we do loudly in public? I think for most of us—the answer is “no”. We are not capable. Love that comes from our humanness is stained with a self-serving attitude. We love as long as we are served by it. We can wear false humility and we can claim sacrifice—we can even love on the basis of tolerance…but when we get to the bottom of it, our love is weak and knows nothing of long suffering. We lose interest…we get busy…we get offended, ambivalent, angry, misunderstood and we leave love to grow cold. BUT—Christ. He is the only One capable of a love that is pure—of a love that this world is in desperate need of. This is why we are commanded to love Him with all of our hearts first. Unless we love Him rightly, we cannot love others without boundaries and favoritism. More than that….if we are not abiding in His love…if we are not having our whole being in Him, then we are not capable of loving well. Jesus must be the object of our affections—not people. We will love well when we love through the lens of Jesus Christ and when we remain in the One whose love suffers without fail. It is impossible to love Jesus and not get His heart for people. If we love Him rightly, we will love people.
John writes this encouragement (1 John 4:16-17)…
the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him. In this union with Him, love is completed and perfected with us
If we are to love our neighbor—we must love God first. He must always have first place. If people and things begin to take His place in our heart…if distractions steal our love for Him away…if we find it difficult to sit as His feet and lovingly worship Him—then I think we will continue to struggle with how to love others well—how to speak a language of love that they can understand.
#lovewins … but only if it is the love of God…a love that is fearless, pure, steadfast and willing to suffer. #lovewins …but only if it is given from the shadow of the cross…a place free of self and offense.
Perhaps this movement will drive us to His feet. Perhaps we will see how desperately we need Jesus in order to love well. Perhaps we will learn the freedom to love others that comes with being able to love Him…to see only Him.
Rise up, Church. Creation waits.
1 Cor 13:4-7 (MSG)