Love’s a Risky Business – Part 1

Every Spring I celebrate 2 milestones— my wedding anniversary and my birthday. As I enter my mid-fifties, I am trying not become a grumpy old man and I am also trying to learn to love better in regards to loving God and loving others. It’s not easy.
For instance…my wife and I recently celebrated 27 years of marriage. Overall, it’s been a very wonderful thing but we have definitely had our struggles at times. Over the years, we’ve learned that each of us holds great power to build up, or tear down, the other person like no one else in the entire world can with just a word. Because of this power, either spouse’s ego could easily get out of control and wreak havoc in the relationship. Thankfully the Bible teaches us that our relationship to Christ, and Christ’s relationship to us, is a model for marriage. Just as Christ gave Himself for the church, husbands are to sacrificially love their wives. And just as the church is subject to Christ, so wives should be submitting to their husband’s leadership. But this is a description of how two people who choose to be joined in holy matrimony should behave in relationship to each other. As a Christian couple we also have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and empowering us to submit to each other and to love one another. Yet it still takes a lot of work.
What about everyone else to whom we are not married to? The Christians we did not choose to include in our lives but we inherited when we became born-again and started attending church.
As Christians we are commanded to submit to one another and to love one another—not only my spouse but my brothers in Christ too. Most of the time that’s not so hard because my Christian brothers and sisters from church will be “out of sight” and “out of mind” shortly after the last worship song is over or shortly after we are done with lunch. So it’s pretty painless to hug a few people and tell them that I love them. But what about when the people sitting around me are hurting or in need? Should that concern me? What does it really mean to love others?
1 John 3:16-18
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
The type of love we learn about in the New Testament is described as unselfish, longsuffering, and not self-seeking but sacrificial. The problem is that we all are naturally selfish. My selfishness makes me reluctant to love others sacrificially because I want to know, “What’s in this for me?” Selfishness also creates unrealistic expectations of what I think others “loving me” should look like—“If you really loved me then_____.” Then there’s also the fear that the other person I show love to is going to be unappreciative, will possibly let me down when I need them, could treat me unfairly, or even hurt me. Love’s a Risky Business.
That’s why Jesus commanded us to love others. Because He knows that loving others does not come naturally—even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He also wants us to learn to love the way that He loves. Loving others the way Jesus did drives us to trust and depend on Him for the results. Just like He obeyed, trusted and depended on the Father when He loved us to death, Jesus wants us to learn to do the same for others.
Romans 5:6-8
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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