“AS I have loved you….
so you MUST love one another.”
How did Jesus love us? And do we have to love everybody? What happens if we don’t love each other as Jesus loved? Well, that is easy…look around. Look at our world and our relationships. A TON of imposter, cheap, phony, imitation, fake “love”… the wrong “type” of love is rampant… and people simply don’t understand there is a BIG difference between what movies, music, magazines etc. portray as love and what Jesus is talking about.
Eros love, “erotic love”, is the kind of love we think of when we see an Abercrombie billboard…or commercial…or shopping bag. Two half-naked 15 years olds who probably don’t even know each other’s last names in a sexual embrace…lips fully engaged. Or it may be a mature couple who sees each other from across the room and there is an instant physical chemistry. “I like you. You like me. We are made for each other, baby. At least for now, baby.” Eros is based on something that by its nature won’t last…because we are more than eyes and hands and lips and skin. If our head and heart and soul aren’t committed too, then it won’t last. We can’t physically stay beautiful. We can’t always be sexy or perfect. This eros love will end up being a disappointment…and the next relationship based on it will be … and the next. Never will it satisfy more than the most base desire…so never will it satisfy. By its nature it is more about what we get then what we give…how it makes me feel instead of how you feel.
Philos love is a love based on friendship between two people. It is a give and take…you help me, I help you. You’re nice to me, I’m nice to you. You make me laugh. You are there when I need you. I will be there for you too…when I can. We will be friends as long as we get along and it is convenient. As long as there is a mutually agreeable tit-for-tat. Philos love may be superior to the purely fleshy eros love because there are some real feelings and concerns involved…but it is still conditional. There is always the implied “if” connected.”I will be your friend…if”.
The highest type of love is “agape”, or unconditional love. It is a love that is totally selfless. A person gives love to another person even it does not benefit the giver in any way. If the love given is not returned…it doesn’t matter. The person continues to love just the same.
How many people do you think have someone like that…an agape lover? Someone who loves them REGARDLESS…no matter what they do, what they say, if they are in a bad mood, if they break the priceless vase, if they get a hole in the new shoe or write with sharpie on the cream-colored leather couch or get a chili stain on the borrowed white shirt or dent the car or lose $50 or leave the toilet seat up or let the cats out or forget to take the kid or or or or. It can be big things or little things…but is love and acceptance performance based in the world where you live? If I get all “A’s” he will love me…if I get a raise she will love me…If I lose 10 pounds they will love me…
What a lie.
When we put conditions to our acceptance…when we “love” someone when they do what we want/ act how we want that is not godly love. That is a guilt-trip and manipulation and heart-ache. Agape love requires DIVINE INTERVENTION. We are petty, selfish and unkind. We are critical and cutting and want to have our own way. We think we know best. We think our way is best. We question others when they have an opinion that is different… and often try to change them. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. Let’s think about each person that is most precious to us…one at a time. Are they perfect in our eyes just like they are? Or is there something about them, that if we could, we would change…because it would make us like them more? Is there a SINGLE person that we KNOW WELL that we would keep exactly like they are? Do their “flaws” as perceived by us get in the way of how we love them?
Dave Early reminds us again, that Jesus says that “we are to love one another as He has loved us. Jesus loves us with an absolute, amazing, astounding, unearned love….you and I can consistently have such love only by allowing Him to love others through us. It is a fruit of His Spirit that springs forth as we yield our lives to Him.”
What does loving others like Jesus loved us look like?
“Love is more than nice thoughts or words. It is active expression.” We express our love for others by giving them our time and attention and service. Love is a decision too. We are not going to “Love our enemies” as we are also commanded to do without a big effort (sometimes remembering that we MUST love our enemies too …several times a day). We have to DECIDE that we are done with hate and bitterness and hurt. We do not have to reconcile with the enemy that hurt us, but it is in our interest to forgive them and release that burden we carry. We can’t love like Jesus commands if we are full of hate! We can cultivate and develop good habits that show love for one another. Smile, speak, share, be available, be generous…”Jesus spoke of His love for His followers. He actively served them. But his love went beyond that. He also sacrificed His life for them. Those with effective relationships love others with a sacrificial, often costly love.”
“Generous sacrifice is a great expression of friendship and love. Love is a matter of giving, not getting. Too often people talk about relationships in terms of what they get as opposed to what they give. Real love is not selfish; it’s sacrificial. It’s not taking for me, it’s giving to you…Love is costly. It carries the price tag of time, effort, vulnerability, humility, and self-denial. Laying our lives down for others may not mean that will physically die for them, like Jesus did for us. But it does mean letting ourselves be used up for others. It will cost us. But ultimately it is worth it.” “Used up”…sounds like an unattractive state of being. But WASTED (think of the gallon of milk that is left undrunk before its expiration date…or the bread that gets stuffed behind the cereal and molds…ot the good dishes that never get taken out of the china cabinet. How much more is our unused life worth…what all could have been done/ could we still do before we expire???
A story at the end of the chapter on “Love One Another” reminded me of my sweet Grandmomma. My Grandmomma taught elementary school for 39 years. She raised three children and helped my Grandfather and was a vital part of her church. When she retired she did not sit back and kick her feet up…she volunteered at a nursing home where she would spend her days talking to, listening to and writing letters for her “little people.” My Grandmomma’s fingers are and have been for years and years disfigured with painful arthritis…but there she would be, pen in hand, writing in her beautiful cursive, letter upon letter…hour upon hour so that these Nursing Home patients could stay in contact with friends and family. This was the era before cell phones and e mails…not that nursing home patients would have known how to use such things!
The story at the end of the “Love” chapter in 14 Secrets to Better Relationships tells of a little old lady that wrote letters to prisoners. Charles Colson who was sent to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal found God while in prison and started a ministry to prisoners once he got out. “Years later, a letter came to Colson’s Prison Fellowship headquarters. An inmate in New Hampshire was asking the staff to ‘please pray for Grandma Howell,’ cause she’s sick and may be going to die. Nobody has ever loved me like she has. I just wait for her letters, they mean so much.’ A few months after that, Prison Fellowship received a letter from Grandma Howell herself, in which she asked Charles Colson to someday speak at her funeral. When Colson wrote back, he discovered she was a ninety-one-year-old woman who kept up correspondence with as many as forty prisoners at a time.”
Colson was in Georgia one day, and stopped by to see Grandma Howell. …”he was shocked to find that she lived in one of the dreariest nursing homes in the state…he was sickened by the number of people waiting to die. But when he visited her room, Colson found that she was unlike the other residents he had seen. While they radiated death, she radiated life. This tiny, crippled, white-haired grandma lit up as she told Colson of the joy she felt spending her days sharing the love of God with prisoners through her letters…”
How do we share the love of God with others during our day? Are our words and actions loving? Kind? Self-serving or sacrificial? Do we have to give anything up…or do we expect other people to give things up for us?
Reuben Welch writes, “When I began to love, care for, and become involved with people, I had more life, more tears, more laughter, more meaning, and far greater fun and joy than I ever had before.”
That sounds like living to me. That sounds like LIFE…and LOVE. Can one exist without the other? I don’t want to know.