Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday: What is Love?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 (NIV)

As I sit at my desk this morning looking out the window at the sunshine resting upon the blades of grass swaying with the breeze, I see the signs of newness and hope that comes with Spring.  It's fitting weather for the Easter Season, although I always find it more appropriate for rain on Good Friday.

As a child, I use to struggle with Good Friday's name.  I understood that it was Good that Jesus came to rescue me so I could go to heaven, but to label the day of his crucifixion good seemed wrong to me.  As an adult, it's easier for me to understand the Goodness of God, but it's still too much for me to completely grasp.  I still don't understand His love.  Honestly, I don't understand what love is - not entirely.  It's depths and the way God's love is unconditionally given is beyond my comprehension.  The movie The Passion of the Christ was probably the most beautifully made depictions of God's love that I have ever experienced.  It gave me a glimpse of the day, and I was able to grieve over the fact that I was part of the reason Jesus experienced such brutality.  When the Bible describes love, it doesn't describe fluffy feelings and meaningless words.  It describes more than an emotion or a temporary offering of affection.  It describes Jesus on the Cross, and God the father sacrificing His Son, a piece of Himself.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we have read about love, but today I want to look at it as a picture of the God I devote myself to.  This is Jesus, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."  And this is what I am suppose to mirror.     

As difficult as it is for me to fully understand God's love for me, it also seems daunting to think that this is the kind of love I am suppose to show to the world.  It doesn't come naturally to me to lay down my life for someone else.  It's not easy to forgo my feelings of being wronged and offer love to those who've wounded me, and it is not comfortable to seek out the broken souls of this world and show them they are valuable.  Love is consuming and selfless.  It requires something of us, and we don't always see immediate returns.  I'm not trying to convince you to give up on love; I truly believe we should love.  I'm just being real.  I think you should know that true love requires, in the very least, a measure of sacrifice.  I also fully believe that love is worth it.  Taking a chance on God's love was the best decision I have ever made.  Taking a chance on people has also been worth it, though painful at times.  After all, Jesus took a chance on us, and He laid down His life so that we could experience the fullness of His love and forgiveness.

I am a sinner.  My sin is no greater or less than that of anyone else's.  I know that some like to argue this point, but I'm going to beg that you hear me out, because I am saying all of this with complete knowledge of my failures.  I cannot judge you, and I choose not to.  The Bible says in Romans chapter 3:23 that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glory, but the beauty is that it doesn't stop there.  The same verse continues with the news that we all can be freely justified by grace because Jesus provided us with redemption.  So let's focus on the Good News of Good Friday.  Yeah, we've messed up.  I have probably broken all of the commandments, even if indirectly (Matt 5:21-48).  That sin separated me from God, but God didn't stop there.  I have been completely loved, restored, and forgiven; because of my faith in Jesus.  I have to remember to not stop there either, because Jesus provided redemption which has led me to the greatest love I have ever known.  You are just as loved.

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