Could you…or would you love someone even if they cheated on you, ran away from you and publicly humiliated you again and again? For most of us, the answer would, no doubt, be a resounding heck no! That’s what I’d be saying for sure!
As I was writing about a couple of weeks ago after Overflow, in today’s society we have a bit of a warped view of what love really means. In theory, it is meant to be completely irrevocable and unconditional. It’s meant to be so strong that literally nothing can change it, break it, or make it run and hide. Unfortunately, that is nearly impossible for humans to achieve. Our love is based on a give and take, a mutuality. God’s love is not.
In small groups last week we came up with a list of what love is in the context of Jesus
- Active; a verb not a noun; pursuing
- Overflowing; no limits
- Unending; forever; eternal
- Unconditional; expects nothing in return
- Pure; no hidden agenda
- Obsessive; intense interest in our lives even without reciprocation
- Self-less; sacrificial
- Relentless; constant
If I’ve sung it once, I’ve sung it a thousand times. That song (Hosanna) by Hillsong that goes
“Show me how to love like you have loved me.”
And although I mean it when I say it, I think it’s so hard for us to truly comprehend what that love means. Loving like God loves means loving the people you don’t even like. It means talking to the people you don’t want to talk to. It means being okay with not getting an “I love you too”. It means going back to the person who ran away and telling them your not giving up that easy. It means being available but understanding your love might never be accepted. It means asking “How are you?” and meaning it. It means making a choice on a daily basis to continue to love, even when you don’t “feel” like it. It means more than words, it means action. Loving like God is not a part-time job, it’s a full time commitment. Love doesn’t quit.
In the Bible, there’s this prophet named Hosea. To make a long story short, he’s a super popular and important influence in Israel in his time and God basically tells him to go find a prostitute named Gomer and marry her. Despite the fact that Hosea was probably thinking “God…what the heck? I’m a prophet! Where’s my hot, holy girl at?”, Hosea finds Gomer and marries her because he is obedient to God. A few years pass, they have a couple of kids and suddenly Gomer is up and gone. She turns away from her loving husband, life of relative wealth and prosperity and goes back to her sin. In fact, this time she ends up a sex slave.
Can we just address the fact that Hosea was way too good for Gomer? She was literally a sex slave and he was God’s voice to all of Israel. So you’d think that at this point, our man Hosea would just write her off as a lost cause and move on with his life. But that’s not the end of the story. Hosea goes looking for her, determined not to give up, no matter how “far gone” his wife is.
He has to buy her back, which must have absolutely broken his heart.
Now she is no longer selling herself, she is being sold. And her husband has to buy her back from a pimp. Not only does he have to go find her and forgive her, he actually has to pay for it. But he does it and “shows love again to his wife, as the Lord loves his people“. There was nothing Gomer could do to make her husband turn his back on her. There was no mistake too great, no heartbreak too terrible, no amount of pushing away that could stop him from going out and finding her again, no matter what the cost.
That is God’s love for us. We can break promises, run and hide, spit in his face, reject his love and and refuse to even acknowledge his existence and none of that has any effect on his insurmountable, unconditional, relentless love for us.
Sometimes, we are Gomer. Doing everything we can think of to push God away and yet we know that he is right there, just waiting for us to accept that he has paid the price for our release. Free to live, if only we would stop holding the unlocked chains to our wrists.
And sometimes, we are Hosea. Being told to go love people that we just don’t “feel” like loving. To invite that girl to church even though last time she told you to eff off. To go have lunch with that guy no one else wants to talk to. To stand up for the girl everyone is calling a whore. To hang out with a friend while they’re coming off a drug high. You might not feel like it. But that is what love is. And God calls us to do it in obedience because he loves those people so much more than you can imagine. He wants to use you as a tool, but you have to be willing to do it his way.
Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice to be steadfast and consistent.
Guess what? Love isn’t always fun. It’s not gushy, mushy feel good. It actually is way more powerful than that and to reduce it something as mundane as “I love tacos” or even “I love you because you can do something for me”, is ridiculous.
God’s love remains even if…
Fill in the blank with whatever you want, God’s love can handle it ALL
-Until next time, Sam