Last week we looked at Ephesians 4:14 and focused on being ROOTED in truth. Let's keep reading in Ephesians and see what comes next.
Just for fun, I googled the word love. I wanted to get an idea of how the world we live in identifies with and defines love. (And let’s be honest, google knows that more than anyone else!) Immediately there were images of hearts and flowers and at least six links to dating websites. It is very clear from just one quick search on the internet that our society has turned love into a fluffy, gooey, sappy thing. Love is sweet.
I had to scroll a bit before I even found a definition of the word. Here are just a few of the ways that Miriam Webster defines love:
Believe me when I say, there were quite a few other ways to define the word love. I chose these because I felt like they were most in line with how God would define love, and what He has to say about love is what really matters.
We have been raised in a world that tells us that love is this romantic, gushy, red-heart thing. We are taught to believe that if we love someone, really love someone, we would never hurt them or offend them. We have almost equated love with perfect and constant harmony.
I had this revelation in Bible college. I was frustrated because I felt like God had somehow tricked me. I felt like he would almost give me things and then take them away promptly. I felt like he could prevent the hurt and heartache that kept seeming to find me, but He was just choosing not to. I didn’t understand how this could be if He did indeed love me as much as He said. Then one day, I stayed at the alter and prayed through lunch and He made it very clear to me.
Love. Deep, authentic love, is more than willing to allow hurt or heartache in order to make the one loved better and stronger.
I thought about my relationship with Jesus. I thought about how His love for me and His willingness to let me hurt could coexist. And then all I could see was Jesus on the cross while God the Father looked on.
God looked over the whole of time and history. He saw the big picture. He saw that the only way to ever have that constant perfect harmony again and to bring people into right relationship with Him was to send His Son to die on a cross. At the time it would have seemed a gruesome, heartless thing to do. How could He give His only son and be willing to sit back and watch him die a painful, torturous, shameful death?! Especially when He had all the power in the world to stop it! It’s completely counter cultural in every way! Love would have found a way out of it or came to the rescue….right?
God saw before and after that moment. Of course it broke His heart to watch His only Son suffer, but because He loved Him and knew His greater purpose, and because He loved us and knew this was the only way, He was willing to allow the pain and the hurt and the darkness.
And that is what love does. Love speaks truth even when it is hard to hear. Love is willing to allow hurt and suffering because sometimes it means the other will come out better and stronger.
I think about my parents. Many times I felt unloved because they took things from me or kept me from doing things or going places. I felt like they must not love me if they didn’t want me to be happy. Now what I see is that they loved me enough to protect me and to guide me even if it meant dealing with my hurt and frustration and misunderstanding and anger in the moment. I understand that they loved me deeply. They loved me like Christ.
Truthfully, love that does anything to keep peace and harmony and calm can often times be a little bit selfish. I am guilty of this. I want so much to be liked and loved in return that I shy away from speaking the truth and saying the hard things that the people I love might need to hear. On one hand, I can tell myself I am being gracious and loving them through it, but if I look at it through the lens of Christ, I might very well be keeping them from better things for the sake of my own comfort.
Of course there are a million ways that I could have taken a post dealing with love. But in light of the fact that last week we discussed getting rooted in truth, I felt it was necessary to take that route. To tell the truth about love. In order for us to plant deep healthy roots of character, we have to know the truth about the seeds that we are trying to plant. We have to know and understand how they are planted and how they are kept healthy and thriving.
If we know Christ and we know His truth and we believe it something fiercely…. If we have allowed those deep roots of truth to get down inside of us, then eventually it will become the base of who we are and of all of our conversations and relationships. And that is exactly what should happen.
But if we fail to understand how to present that truth in love, real Christ-like love, then those seeds of truth will fall on hard, unreceptive soil.
Jesus gave us the example of love. In fact, I would go as far as to say He defined the word for us. The Bible says multiple times that God is love. The only way that we are going to grow up and mature in our faith is to start living and loving like Christ.
He is truth and He is love.
Being rooted in those things is beginning to make deep roots in Him.
Download the graphic for your phone background here.