Friday, June 8, 2012

What it Really Takes to Love...

Even a Husband after God's own heart can be harsh and unfaithful. Parents, self-absorbed and stubborn. Children,  disrespectful and spiteful. A friend can betray and speak death words. An enemy can slander and persecute.

And we who've walked this damaged earth long enough to read and understand these words have surely been wounded by opening our arms wide, heart hanging there vulnerable for the breaking. We've experienced in the core of our being, made in the likeness of Him who knew what we would do to Him from the beginning:

It takes a cross to love. 

Love poured out can be a broken, bleeding mess.

To love can pierce you right through.

It can be suffocating to even keep on breathing. Deeply excruciating.

And the term excruciating... literally means "out of crucifying". Crucifixion.

It takes a cross to love. 

So to pick up a cross daily... to follow Him who demonstrated His own love for us through this... this greatest love that means laying down one's life... why on this already dreadfully painful earth would anyone put themselves through this?

Is what we really want Love if that means we will suffer long?

We want to feel appreciated. We want to feel understood. We want to feel treasured, whole, comforted, entertained, not lonely... we want more than fleeting happiness... what we really want is  joy. Not suffering. Definitely not long suffering.

Maybe love isn't worth it.

Maybe laying down that cross is easier, feels better... feels less.

If we lay down that cross long enough... maybe we won't feel pain at all.

We will develop deadness. 

Because when we choose to not follow Love... we are already dead in our trespasses and sins. 

So those are the choices then?... To suffer or to die?... Why persevere through the agony?

Why did He endure the excruciating, suffocating, piercing, heart-and-spirit-wrenching agony of that cross??

He understands our deep desire for joy.

He endured more than can be imagined for the joy set before Him...

For love.

For relationship.

For you. 

For me.

To bring us to Himself. To know Who He really is. And He is Love. Love that wants us, commands us to also love one another so that we can have His complete joy remaining in us.

And the Spirit of Love... He offers his fruit of love to us. And on the heels of that love is joy. And with the deep breath of joy is peace.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace..."

There is no joy without Love.

But maybe if we could remember this?... That the cross is not the end, but only the beginning of the new, real, free, joy-filled life?

That we died, and are now alive with Christ. Set gloriously free from the law of sin and death itself and all that was against us that stood opposed to us He took away and that, that is what Love nails to the cross!

It takes a cross to love.

 And the message of the cross is foolishness to those who aren't even aware they are really perishing... but to us broken wretches made whole and new and free and saved by Grace... it is the power of God.

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