I've been thinking a lot about love. Real love. True love. Not just the fuzzy, pink-haloed 'love' Hollywood portrays where you're falling in love with a man you just met a a grocery store or something, but rather a deeper, more genuine love. Do we even know that that is? What that looks like? What the requirements are for this type of love?
I think we have lost sight of true love and instead have replaced it with a vision it was never created to be. Love has now become tolerance. People will say, "I'm different, you have to love me" but really what they want is acceptance. Sure, they call it love, but I don't think it's the same thing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it's own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Genuine love is so much deeper than what we think we want from others. Sure, it can feel great to have another person say they love you but if they let you down (which, eventually they will) it cheapens their love. The only type of love that a person can fully be satisfied with is love from God. He is the only one who could ever fulfill everything listed in 1 Corinthians.
So, as I thought about love, I also thought about justice. I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon the other day and he was explaining about love and justice. He said (much more eloquently than I) that God shows true love by being both loving and just, that you can't have one with out the other. If God truly is a loving Father, then he couldn't allow sin to go unpunished because that would be unloving. The wrong could never be righted. The injustice would never be avenged.
It struck me how simple and yet how complex it was. So many people I've talked to say that God is not loving because He allowed some consequence in someones life or because there is injustice in the world, but that is far from the truth. That view also overlooks quite a few things. Who were the first to disobey God? Adam and Eve. What did they do? They ushered in sin and with it consequence into the world. What did God do? He forgave them, clothed them, and made a way for them to continue to be forgiven (because He knew they would sin again). He didn't forsake them. It was their own sin that caused them to face painful consequences.
God shows His love to us in so many ways. The hardest to understand is that He is loving because He allows consequences. Even more than that though, He is loving because, despite all of our sin and our rejection of Him, He still chose to save us. He made a specific way for us.
We were selfish from the start, our pride desiring only what we wanted.
Jesus, in his unselfishness, went to the cross for us.
Our unrighteousness deserved (and still does) death.
Christ, in His righteousness, covered us by the blood He freely shed on the cross for us, redeeming us from death into true life.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Praise God that He made a way for us to be saved! Through His death we have life. And life in Him means we have an ability to love because He first loved us (1 John 4:7-21).
Going back to my first point about love, I am saddened that people have the wrong perspective of what love is. They compare it to having people accept them just as they are, the good and the bad. True love is so much more than this! It's having someone see just who you are (sin and all), die for you, and then promise you the strength to change so you are no longer in the sin that was ensnaring you.
As Easter approaches, now is the best time to think (or start thinking) about what this means. "For he who has died is freed from sin" - if we have aligned ourselves with Christ, we have taken part in His sacrifice, died to sin, and are freed from sin. Freed! That mean's we don't have to sin and every time we do, we chose to do so. How amazing to realize that Christ has purchased our freedom out of love. Now that is true love.