April 21, 2013

True Love

Ask someone, anyone what the love of God is like. Depending on the person asked, the answers are going to differ. Common ones may be: "God loves me for me." "God's love is unconditional." "God loves everyone."  "God's love is accepting." "God's love does not depend upon our performance." "God's love is beautiful. Unending. Wonderful. Compassionate. It does not condemn."

Most of these are true. The love of God is compassionate, unconditional, not based on our performance, and beautiful. He takes us we are. Yet, these definitions, I find, are incomplete. We love to picture this warm, gentle God who holds us. He does. Yet there is more to His love than rainbows and sunshine. We have diluted the love of God.

{When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some "disinterested", because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly  invoked, the "lord of terrible aspect", is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host
who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.}
The Problem of Pain
C.S. Lewis

He loves us so much, not only did He sacrifice His son, a widely accepted fact in Christianity, but He will do whatever it takes to heal us. He doesn't want us to simply live and be happy. He wants more for us than that. He wants us to live empowered by His love, and free from ourselves. Think about it. What is more freeing than forgetting about ourselves? We all think freedom-giving-love helps us to be who we think we are. No, it helps us to be who we can be, and to forget about that person more often than not in thinking of others and Him. He loves us too much to let us remain as we are or think we are. More often than not, we know ourselves less than anyone else. 

So when it looks like God is trying to ruin our fun, He is really trying to heal us and make us who we were meant to be--more than anything we could be on our own. This life is not about finding ourselves. It is about becoming our true selves--creatures made to be loved by God, love Him, and love others. Not with a diluted love, but with the determined, furious love that is true love, love in all its actuality. A love that sacrifices, does not give up and isn't afraid to "do whatever it takes to give me Your heart." (Tenth Ave. North, Don't Stop the Madness) Read the Old Testament. His love is not an easy love and yet it is. Hosea, Jeremiah, David. They can all tell you about His crazy, hard, beautiful love. 

As Lewis says of Aslan, "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." His love is not tame. In some ways it is a bit scary. Yet gentle, too. This is the paradox of His love. I know it will change me, make me uncomfortable, oust my fears and insecurities that have become as comfortable as my favorite sweater or shoes. It is going to hurt. Yet I have never wanted something I fear so much. 

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