Hi! Ian from wintry Down Under.
Love! It tends to be something we compartmentalize, don’t we? It’s how we feel about our spouse and children, our parents and there’s this industry around romance, the books and movies. Strangely, or perhaps not so, it’s actually not talked about a lot. When asked what I’m writing about, people often give me strange looks when I mention it’s a book about love. “It’s unusual for a man to talk and write about love,” said a lady I met picking my mom up from a dental appointment when I happened to mention what I’m writing about.
I will often squirm when I’m sharing it with a new group of people especially one only of men. I get these strange looks and the subject quickly changes because it’s an uncomfortable subject. Why is it something we find uncomfortable discussing and even if we do we might confuse it with sex (men more likely too)?
We were made in the image of God. Right. And He’s a God of love. Right. That must mean we’ve been made in love and love is an inherent characteristic of our makeup. John 3:16 is perhaps the most recognized verse in the western world. Why? Because it’s written in big bold print at most major global sporting events like the Olympics and the football World Cup. Most of us reading this book probably recall it immediately: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV). Besides being a statement of the gospel, it also clearly states God’s modus operandi, that is, the particular way He works.
God loved the world and everyone in it so much that out of that love He sent Jesus to live incarnationally amongst us, to then die and be raised from the dead. God did it out of … love. This is how He works. Whether it’s in the macro way of the world or within the micro way of an individual, He only knows the one way of operating: in love. Certainly, this love takes different forms depending on the circumstance but everything He does reflects love.
Love in Action
If God’s way of working is by love, is He not inviting us into His world to operate the same way. I wonder if the big question of what’s life about has a relatively simple answer: to live a life of love.
Jesus even reminds us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)” No wonder so many in the world struggle with the church and Christians because we so often don’t do very well at loving others. It grieves my heart when we see evidence of abuse within churches, churches breaking up, Christian marriages ending, supporting acts or individuals whose behaviors and words clearly don’t reflect the principles of love.
Yes, we can excuse ourselves for being human. We make mistakes, we sin, because we’re human. The church is full of fallible humans who make mistakes all the time. I know I do. Every. Day. It’s important we be compassionate and extend grace to ourselves and to others.
Love is hard work, isn’t it? Especially when your partner is grumpy or worse, your kids are driving you nuts, or someone hurts you and we can go on. We can’t really love in our own strength and the wonderful thing about walking with Jesus is we don’t have too. And we’re not supposed to. God invites us to love like He does. With a compassionate heart.
As I go deeper with God, the more I find I need to go even deeper, and I want to because through Him we can learn to love better, even when we struggle to. But how do we do it?
Here’s a few suggestions. Why not add your own to the list in the comments? What’s something that’s helped you love better?
- It starts with time with God. Prayer, solitude and silence are so pivotal to growing our connection with the lover of our souls. Like any good relationship quality time is essential. Solitude and silence help us listen. Prayer is more about getting God into us; it helps us detach from ourselves so our hearts can be transformed (slowly) into being better lovers.
- Actions speak louder than words. Choose to do something that’s about another. It might be a simple text to a friend asking after them or specifically praying for them. I always find that when I pray the Spirit nudges me to do something for another. This is God’s way.
- Listen first and hold off giving your own advice or opinion. I struggle with this all the time. We like to solve people’s issues, don’t we? Before expressing an opinion, ask a question. Listen. Ask another question. Listen. Wait for your partner, child, friend to ask for your input. Eek.
- Pray for someone who hurt you. Express your hurt to God. Remember, He’s the compassionate one. Imagine Him hugging you and after a while see if you can simply ask God to bless the one who hurt you.
I’m continually amazed by this little community of ours and reading of how various members love one another and their partners and kiddies, even under some very challenging circumstances.
Let’s continue to be known for our love.
Much love, my friends.