The Radical and Demanding Call to Love
We are called in Ephesians 5 to “walk in love just as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us.” What does that look like? Well, 1 Corinthians 13 is the classic “go to“ passage about love. But we may be so familiar with the words that we fail to comprehend the radical – and demanding – nature of this love. Let’s take a new look at love today … and at ourselves.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, then I must be patient even when people irritate the daylights out of me. Even when I really want to roll my eyes at something someone says or does. Even when I have lost track of the umpteen times I have put up with this person.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, then I must be kind when I actually feel short-tempered or tired or angry. I must be kind when another person insults, hurts, or upsets me. There are times when I will be called to confront or challenge or rebuke people, put even in those times I am also called to be kind.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, then I cannot let the root of jealousy and envy take hold of my heart. Such resentments of others will only separate me from them. Rather, I must continually sweep my heart clean of anything that would cause a chasm to open up between me and other people. Love demands my total commitment to personal holiness.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, there is no room for boasting, bragging, or arrogance. That includes boasting or bragging or being arrogant about how I am always patient and kind and generous and forgiving to others. If I am bragging about how loving I am, then I can be sure of one thing – I am not actually loving others.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I cannot act unbecomingly, no matter what the circumstances. Regardless of whether people are rude or wrong or ridiculous, my conduct and my response to them must be above reproach.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I must be other-focused, not self-focused. This calls me to selfless giving of my time, my effort, my money, and my entire being. Not just when it is convenient, but all the more when it is inconvenient.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I cannot allow myself to be provoked into rash words or actions. That means no road rage, no snarky comments, no uncontrolled flares of temper. I must always think before I speak and weigh what I am about to do, because I will be held accountable for it all.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I can’t keep a list of wrongs done to me. I can’t nurse grudges. I can’t call up the past and throw it in someone’s face. I can’t self-righteously tell others how badly someone else has treated me. Forgiveness must become a way of life ... even if some people never change and continue to hurt me.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I cannot take pleasure in anything that does not please God. This means I am wrong if I take perverse pleasure in telling people off or taking people down or shutting people out.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I should rejoice in the truth. I should speak the truth in love in every circumstance and to every person. This will sometimes take courage or require great self-control.
If I am to love others as Christ loves me, I am called to bear the burdens of people and to bear with people who are a burden. I am called to believe that anyone and everyone can change, can be redeemed, can be sanctified. I am called to an inextinguishable and inexhaustible hope for people. I am called to stick it out and keep on loving people no matter what.
When I love people – all people – like this, I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that LOVE WILL TRIUMPH.