Tuesday, March 25, 2014
One Way Love
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
The Lord has been teaching me much about love lately. Love is the new law God has given us. The law has no power to change a heart. It is a set of rules. It shows us our failure, our need for Jesus and out utter dependence on Him and His perfect life in our place. Love increased the law while Jesus fulfilled the law for us. A woman can stay married to a man all her life and not love him. She can be loyal and never commit adultery and not love him. She can not murder or steal and never love another person. Love increased the law.
I have been reading a great book by Paul Miller, on love, A Loving Life. It talks about the cost of love. It talks about heseh love, love in the book of Ruth. How suffering does not guarantee love but is the place where love is born. It talks about how love is sacrificial, expecting nothing in return. How loving is not desiring your own happiness or wanting your own way. How it is dying to self. It cares more for the other person than you do yourself. It is painful. It is suffering. It is death to our flesh. But it brings much life. Life to others and yourself. Joy to God. I am learning this love. The love Jesus has for me and now, He is giving me this love for others.
Many years ago someone came into my life. They gave to me sacrificially. They were there to teach me and support me. I was indeed struggling. I latched on to them like a drowning man does to another person who is trying to save them from drowning. The only thing is, if there is not trust (love) both people can drown by the drowning person, also pulling the other person under with them. This is what I did, in my mind, to my friend. We both were drowning.
They decided I was too dependent on them and they broke the relationship off. I was, too dependent on them. I was not learning and growing because I was going to them to meet my needs and not to the Lord. Their separation from me left me alone and scared. I thought I had no one. My family nor my friends knew of my real struggles. I hardly knew them then, myself.
I think of the story of Joseph. Joseph was a self righteous person. His brothers took him from their father and left him for dead. He was all alone. He went through abuse and slavery. God was teaching him to depend on Him. Molding him and breaking him. God brought Josephs brothers back into relationship with Joseph and Joseph had become a humble man. He saw that, what seemed to have happen for bad, God had used for good. God had work suffering into Josephs life to do good for Joseph and his dependence and relationship with God. Joseph learned to love others, not himself. I believe it is God honoring for there to be reconciliation in a relationship, but this does not always happen. It takes at least two willing people. Joseph had let his brothers go. He had trusted God in bringing him to the place where he was in his life and in the ways God was using him. He saw Gods faithfulness, even though he had lost the things he thought he needed and was so dear to him, his family. It was through loosing that Joseph had gained. Through dying that he had found life.
My friend and my relationship has not been restored. I have let them go to God. I have forgiven them for leaving me and I hope they have forgiven me for depending on them as I did. You must forgive another person, no matter if they have apologized or not, for them, but also for yourself. Bitterness and anger grows out of a heart of unforgiveness. You feel justified for your hard heart because you have been done wrong.
You can know sound theology in your head but if it doesn't impact you life, it is not what you are practically believing. It does not make a difference in your life. You can know all about the gospel and repentance but if you are not giving room for yourself and repentance for others in your life you are only words. It has not gripped your heart. We learn love, through suffering.
I struggled with knowing what love was, back then, in several relationships, friends, family. They were idols for me. I have worked through these struggles with others and with the Lord. I believe that is very God glorifying when we are able to stick with someone through the hard times and learn to love others, ourselves. But this is not always possible and we have got to be willing to be ok with that. To trust God in the midst of the loss. To know His love is true and faithful to us. That He is still working even when we don't understand or see. I was closed off to others or needing them too much, demanding from God actually, that someone else meet my needs. You cannot love someone you need in such a way. Only God can meet the deepest needs of our heart, for love and value and worth, for purpose. I hope my relationship is restored one day with this friend. My heart is open to that, but I do not need them. I see where my relationship with them was keeping me from knowing and depending on God, as hard and lonely and scary as my life was at the time. I know what true love is now. They were not what I needed, God was. Since that time I have found community. I have learned to counsel my own heart. I have learned to be open and honest about my struggles. I have grown. I have been pursued by God in a most radical, jealous way. He was after my heart and was not about to let me go to others for what only He could give me. I had to lose my life to gain it.
Jesus is our example of what true love is. No greater love is there, than to give your life for another person. Jesus did this. We are to pick up our cross and follow Him. We are to identify with His suffering in order to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Phil 3:10-11. That power, is the power to be different, to love as He has loved us. To be so surrendered, with His surrender that He actually loves through us. It is a gift, all of mercy and grace, that God would bring us into this suffering and time of learning and teach us of this, one way love. The Father, Son and Spirit, have such a love relationship, it spilled over to us. We are to have this same love with the three Persons of God, receiving their love and giving it away, expecting nothing in return. There is no greater joy. Jesus died for the joy set before Him. We are that joy and He shares that love, that joy, with us. Amazing love how can it be that He my God has died for me. Now Lord, give me the grace to die for another person. To love as I have never loved before, sacrificially.