Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Love, Enabled by Grace

Over the past several months, the Lord has been teaching me a great deal about love.  Many situations have come into my life that I have no control over; some I disapprove of, some I simply can't comprehend.

The exhorter and the prophet in me wants to address sin and encourage to wholeness in Christ.  But God has not allowed me to do that.  In some of these cases I'm referring to, it would absolutely destroy the relationship.  Time and time again, God has said, "Just love him/her."  Easier said than done sometimes!

But grace, God's continuing amazing grace has enabled me to love and not judge, to love and not condemn, to love and not feel rejected.

I've written here before a little about my Dad.  It's been hard to rise above not feeling rejected sometimes when he won't respond to me, when he won't even acknowledge that I'm there.  But God, time and time again, has said, "Just love him."  And that's exactly what he needs right now, to just be loved.  Because of his dementia, most of the time, he can't be responsible for his actions.  To take his behavior personally would simply destroy the time we have left.  To love him is to give him just a small amount of comfort for his last days.  God has, by grace, enabled me to do that.  To stop thinking about myself and just love.

Love, God's love, enables us to give the other person the freedom to be who they are, to make their own mistakes, to respond to God in their timing and His, not ours.  Our own limited love, most of the time, wants the person to be who we think they should be.  Or we want them to be what will make us feel good.  We want them to "march to the tune of our drummer."

As a parent, there are many situations in which we have to let our children make their own mistakes. We can train, lead, guide and discipline, but as they grow up, they will make their own choices and will suffer either the rewards or the consequences.  Our love needs to give them the freedom to do that.  In fact, God's love gives us the freedom to do exactly that.

Love is more than a feel-good emotion.  It's more than a romantic notion.  It's more than chocolate and flowers.  It is the most powerful force that will change the lover and the loved, if given and received in the covering of God's grace.

Scripture tells us there is no law against love.  What do you do with love?  How can you argue against love?  How do you stop someone from loving you?

As I have grown older, I pray that I have grown wiser, and I've come to understand a whole lot better than when I was younger and still inexperienced in the ways of life.

We can argue til we die about whether the rapture will be pre, mid or post or even if there will be a rapture.  
We can argue about the grievances of the church and how much we've been hurt and offended and whether or not the church is relevant today.  
We can debate forever whether the spiritual gifts are for today or not.  
We can "tsk tsk" because some denominations forbid women to wear pants or make-up.  
We can preach hell, fire and damnation on the street corners til we are hoarse.  
We can get all "bent out of shape" because we don't like certain expressions of worship.  
I can go on and on because surely, there are many, many more points that we could debate. 

But none of that really matters.  
Simply, what really matters is how well we have loved.

Have we received the extent of God's love poured out to us?
Have we, in turn, poured out that love to others?
Can we truly love someone we disagree with and not continually be offended because they don't agree with us?

The older I get, the more convinced I am that life is all about relationship.  My relationship first with God and then my relationship with others.  After all, isn't that why Jesus endured the cross?  He and His Father and the Holy Spirit wanted relationship....with us.

And you can't have relationship, real godly relationship without love - unselfish love.

Absolute love is our example: 

"Love is the power to grant freedom without desiring to limit or inhibit its exercise.  It is the power to give freedom without any will to take it back.  And it is only omnipotence that can refrain absolutely from trespassing upon freedom.  Only God can give and not take back ... [God] suffers within himself the entire consequence of allowing man absolute freedom.  That is his love ...

Thus, the existence of evil and suffering in the world is a proof, not that God is either good but powerless, or all-powerful but not good.  On the contrary, it is a proof that God is both loving and omnipotent.  Only absolute love could grant unhindered freedom, and only omnipotence can endure the operation of that freedom."     - D. R. Davies

And while we don't, and can't, walk in the omnipotence that God does, we can, and should, endeavor to love with this kind of love.  His grace enables us when we can't.  His grace empowers us to reflect Him and His love in all of our relationships.

We need to love others and give them freedom - love in such a way that they feel that freedom, and can realize in the midst of that freedom, that if they make a mistake, we will still love them.

Just as God, in Christ Jesus, loves us!

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