This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I think it’s because we, as Christians, are called to love above all else. Jesus reiterates the commandments when He says that the greatest commandments are: 1) to love God with all you, & 2) love your neighbor as yourself.
Our cultures want us to believe that love looks like the movie “Friends With Benefits.” The trailer for that movie was a little much for me, but it might have been the German context. Some things here are more socially acceptable to throw out there. I’d be interested to see how different the US trailer spot is. Anyway, I digress. So, I just wanted to get the ball rolling on what could be a great conversation. I’ll just put it out there early, that I’d like to hear what you think love is. The rules: no cut-n-paste comments (only your original thoughts or thoughts on someone else’s thoughts), no attacks or actions that are unloving (I reserve the right to remove any post I feel leaves the heart of the topic), and be honest, not cavalier (by that I mean, don’t just throw out a general principle that someone else should aspire to. Talk from your heart).
To get us rolling, I’ll start where my heart started with this topic. Love is more than just the fulfillment of an obligation out of a sense of duty. There are many who know this feeling of obligation or expectation that has not a shred of love intermingled. I admit that the expression of love is ripe with duty and obligation, but that’s not the motivation. Love is the motivation. DC Talk (showing my age) had a song called “Love is a Verb.” True, but I think love is the motivational foundation for whatever verb follows. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays that God would allow this cup (suffering and crucifixiton) to pass from Him. Does that mean He doesn’t love humanity? Does this mean that even Jesus had His limits of what He would do for love or that He now wanted out of an obligation He’d made because it was too hard? Hardly. Or, does it mean that Jesus only sacrificed because of His obligation? Does it mean that He had started a path he was required to see through? That’s not it either.
Jesus’ love for His Father was the driving factor in all He did. If we take our eyes off of that, we miss the bulk of Jesus’ teachings! When Jesus says things like, “As you do to the least of these,” or “If you love Me you’ll obey My commands,” He is not saying, “Keep your commitments because you’re obligated.” Love moves us to action. Love moves us to sacrifice. Love keeps us obedient. But what about those days where you just don’t feel like you love the people like you need to? What about those days when it just doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice? Those are the days that we all have. But those are the days that we’ve taken our eyes off of Our Father and put them on something lesser. The question is not what am I obligated to do. Our focus is on Christ, the only one worthy of any and every sacrifice. If you’re sacrifice is solely for people, you’ll empty that tank pretty quickly. But when you keep your focus on Christ, your dead-end, “loveless” marriage can be a place of worship. Your over-demanding boss can be a source of blessing.
This is what I take away from the Garden. When Jesus says, “Not My will but Yours,” He is showing us how to stay obedient and to live out love . It’s not about the worth or value of those you sacrifice for, or even feel obligated to serve. I think that will come, though. But at the heart of the matter is that your love for God drives you to live as He asks, love as He loved, and die as He died; and to do it all for Him.
Well, I’ve run on enough. I’ll sum up by saying that love should be/is the motivator to obedient action for followers of Jesus. What do you think? What is love to you and why?