..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Does Your Love Come Across?

There are so many opportunities in life
to give and receive love. Lately, there
seems to be even more. We are all in
vulnerable, challenging positions and
can use encouragement, edification,
and affirmation. And yet it seems
that, of all the Christian virtues,
love is the most challenging to convey.

As I've tried to give love, and as
I've hoped to receive love, I've
given considerable thought to how
the love we have to give comes
across to others, and how their
love comes across to us.

My intent can be to give you love,
but does the other person actually
feel loved? You can intend to give
me love, but do I actually end up
knowing and feeling that?

In order to make any progress with
this we have to look at how God
loves us. If you are a Christian
than I think you can say, at least
in some small way, that you have
experienced God's love. How did
God convey His love to you?

Hopefully the love you have felt
from God is not just a mental
acceptance of His Word telling
you that He loves you, although
His Promise of love is the foundation
of it all. Hopefully you have a tangible,
felt sense of God's love and
it comes across to you in tangible
ways. Even in "the soul's dark
night," when it is difficult
to "feel" anything at all but
pain, much less love from God,
it is still possible to know
the love of God: that's how
powerful it is!

So often our love is locked up
inside of us, felt but not
expressed, intended, but not
activated. Humans are adept
at hiding what they mean,
learned behavior to protect
themselves, or so they believe.

God's love is transparent. It is
not gnostic knowledge, it is not
something we cannot figure out,
although it will take us eternity
to explore it. I am always taken,
as I read the gospels, as to how
the love of Jesus came across.
It was expressed in a myriad of
ways but was always appropriate
and timely to the situation.

Sometimes His love was a show of
compassion (Matthew 9:35 & 36).
He saw the multitudes and was
moved with compassion to help
them because they were like sheep
having no shepherd.

Sometimes His love was straightforward:
"Peter, do you love Me? Feed my sheep!"
calling us out of self-focus and self-pity
to the Father's business.

Sometimes His love was encouraging,
telling the disciples that it was possible
to walk even on water and to not be fearful
(Matthew 8:23-26).

Sometimes His love does not rush to
rescue others from dealing with the
things they must face. "So when
He heard that [Lazarus} was sick he
stayed two more days in the place where
He was" (John 11:6).

Sometimes His love challenges to the
very core: "Do you want to go away, too?"
(John 6:67).

Knowing what is needed in each situation,
knowing how to show the Father's Love
means that we, ourselves, must experience
the Father's Love, watch Him loving us
and loving others, and walk in that same
Love. Human love can be, well, too human.
Well meaning but ineffective. Well intentioned
but missing the mark. Too strict or too
wimpy, too freely given or too cautiously
measured out.

God's love is perfect in season and out of
season but we cannot give it, cannot know
it, if we are hanging on to ourselves.
Our humanity is too calculating. As we
are loved by the Father, let us love
others with that self-same love. It is
the only way.

Ask yourself, "How does my love come
across to others?" Am I known for this
talent or that skill but not known as
a lover of God and a lover of men's and
women's souls?

In these days it is vital that we do not
hide our love under a bushel and that our
love is freely given from our own hearts
that have been greatly loved by God.

Go out there and love our lost and dying
world with the great love of God!

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