What does love look like in a world of relational disappointment?
One of the beauties of this description is its honesty and real-world application. Who here hasn’t been burned? Who here hasn’t been hurt deeply even by a fellow Christian? Who hasn’t fought cynicism towards people? Who hasn’t wanted to put people in the relational jail and thrown away the key? You have no optimism whatsoever that God might do something redemptive in them or you. Am I close?
Yeah, Pastor Steve. You better come up with something pretty good for me to change one bit on this one.
I don’t have to come up with anything. If you are a follower of Jesus, what has Jesus done if not bear with us? What has Jesus done if not believed in us? What has he done if not hoped for us?
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5, ESV)
This is redemption. We see the determined love of Christ for us. An eternal, self-sacrificing, future looking love for us. Our Savior approached us full of grace. John 1:14, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
We see that in his life over and over. Think of all the people who had written off the woman at the well in John 4. Can you hear the ladies in town? She’s a tramp. Another man? That’s so typical of her. Jesus meets her at the well and in one conversation with grace and love, she is changed forever.
The woman caught in adultery in John 8. The Pharisees are quick to condemn her. Jesus sees her redemptively, go and sin no more.
The list of names are so familiar to us that we forget that these were people everyone else had given up on. Zacceus the tax collector. Mary Magdalene was demon possessed. The possessed man in the graveyard. Samaritans. Lepers. Adulterers. Sinners of every type and degree. Even Peter, who denied Jesus in his darkest hour of need, found a redemptive sticky love for him, Peter, feed my sheep.
Where does this kind of love come from? Not from us. It comes from God. It comes to us in the person of Christ. It is given to us in the miracle of salvation and regeneration. It is the love of God, expressed in the Son of God, experienced in us by faith in God.
Essentially, it’s loving others as we have been loved by God. The implications are massive and personal. How many marriages and family relationships and church relationships and friendships could be redeemed and restored if only a little selflessness for the joy of the other would create some grace for each other. A little safe-zone in the relationship, a mutual sense of being for one another, relationships that see each other as divine works in progress, not yet what we will each be someday in glory.
May this increasingly be the culture of our families and marriages and friendships within the church. The relational blessing of not having to be perfect…yet.
Love bears all things, believes all things, and always retains redemptive confidence in God which feels in us like hope.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2010 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.