Love has been on my mind a lot lately…like for the last three or four years. You see…almost everything that God has revealed to me, convicted me of, and changed in me has to do with getting rid of pride and selfishness and substituting them with love. Interestingly enough, everywhere I go, both offline and online, I’ve seen Him doing the same thing in His people everywhere. He’s been opening our eyes to the selfishness that the world easily sees in us (and uses as proof that we are hypocrites), but to which our pride has blinded us.
Furthermore, I’ve seen that in almost all of us, this level of love He is leading us all to is sacrificial. Very sacrificial. Which is biblical, for “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life(style) for his friends.” (And, of course, Jesus Himself told us that the “friends/neighbors” whom we are to show love to might also very well be our enemies…which wasn’t a new NT idea, either.)
So we are ultimately called to lay down our life (and every part of our life) for any and every human we encounter, for it is in losing our life, that we will find it. In fact, Jesus said that if we work to save our life, the end result will be that we will lose it. How serious a warning this is!
Thankfully, it seems that this losing-and-finding-thing is progressive. The more we surrender our lives and willingly lose parts of it for Him, the more we find of the life He intends for us.
What I find most remarkable…miraculous, even…is the reality of the love that He is placing inside of me. It seems to be growing, totally independent of any effort of my own.
It begins as He proves Himself faithful to His promise: “You shall seek Me and you shall find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” I have discovered that seeking Him must be coupled with repentance, humility, and obedience in choosing to show love. Look at Isaiah 58. It has it all. God’s call for us to repent, to humble ourselves, and to chose the actions of love over selfishness and retaliation against those who have hurt us.
As I do this, I come to see Him and to know His very nature more and more. And everything I discover about His nature is a product or aspect of love. His anger, His justice, His compassion, His jealousy, His grace…all of it. Just as I know it is my father’s nature to be logical and a calm, quiet thinker, I know that it is my God’s nature to love, because the more I get to know Him, the more that is all I see.
And as I get to know this love, the more I find this love beginning to flow through me. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that I’m never rude or inconsiderate, and it doesn’t mean that I display His love anywhere near perfectly. I wish it did, and hopefully one day it will.
What I’m talking about is more the difference between knowing that you should like spinach and actually being hungry for it. The difference in me is just as remarkable. Love that once only existed in my mind as a decision now carries a rhythm of pain and beauty inside my heart…pain felt through compassion on behalf of the person who hurt me…instead of my own pain. This is something that is far beyond any choice or action of mine. This is something God is doing.
And as He does it in me…as I step aside and stare in awe and wonder at the love He allows me to feel, I discover that my knowledge of His heart grows. And I see the world through His eyes more and more clearly. And it becomes more obvious how the Bible is the spelling out of the beautiful plan He has for a creation He loves so dearly.
Hebrews 12:29 says that, “Our God is a consuming fire,” and 1 John 4 says twice that, “God is love.” I am finding that it is His very nature–the very power and completeness of His love–that is this all-consuming fire. For where His love flows, anger melts. Hatred is powerless. Bitterness and strife dissolve. Pride itself stumbles and fails. And in the place of these evils, compassion becomes empowered. Grace becomes manifested. Mercy becomes complete. Patience becomes effortless. Goodness becomes an outcome instead of a goal. Everything that is contrary to His nature becomes powerless, and everything that is a part of His nature becomes empowered.
And this is what Isaiah 58 is talking about at the end:
11″And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
12″Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.