A few months ago, my friend Christine introduced me to the idea of, "keepin' the love on." The thought behind the phrase is: not to withhold love toward those around you, no matter what you may be feeling or the state of your own heart. It can be so easy to turn the love off in response to the circumstantial lows of everyday fallen living, but real love "keeps the light on for ya..." like Motel 6... ;-)
I was reminded of this concept the other day as I realized just how much I fail to, in fact, keep it on.
Love, (True affection for God and Man), rises to take its place above faith and hope as the greatest among these. However, love is probably the most overused word, whose true meaning has been compromised more than that of any other.
Love... actual love.... like the bearing up under all things kind of love, is rare to witness upon the earth.... yet it is the very example that was portrayed when God's son stepped onto the planet, living 33 years in human skin to display heaven's splendor for us who were made from the dirt. Love is to be our greatest lesson if we would surrender ourselves to its teaching. It is so costly though.... that's the usual deal, right? The worthy things are costly, otherwise: everyone would be doing them...
Man, some things in the Word can seem really broad and hard to understand... churches split over foggy doctrines and people part over disagreements about the seemingly gray areas of gospel living... many things are just so difficult to come to truth about. What is crazy about all of this though... is that we forfeit huge opportunities to learn love (the greatest thing... the one thing that we can take with us into eternity)... and we choose the opinions and thoughts of our own finite brains over the chance to discover how to love our neighbor.
True Love is easy to distinguish because it goes against the grain and strikes an un-strummed chord within us. Like Salmon do, love swims upstream and beckons the attention of the schools who are swimming the other direction as they go with the flow. I sometimes wonder how this story might have panned out differently if Adam would have laid His life down for Eve and, "taken the fall," for her instead of blaming her for the whole apple deal.... would that have been enough love to cover a multitude of sins? I guess we'll never know... because Adam didn't do that, Jesus did. He took the fall for all of us. He, who did no wrong, took on our wrong... so that we could be made right.... amazing.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That sentence alone should evoke something on the inside of us who believe. However, it somehow becomes so easy to remain unmoved by such miraculous wonders... yet Tom Cruise can arouse our adventurous side and Julia Roberts can bring us to tears while we eat popcorn and drink soda and leave a movie theater... changed? Meanwhile... God wrote and walked out an unbelievably adventurous and miraculous story... and put us smack dab in the middle of it... and we're bored...
Maybe our hearts are a little hard? Maybe we've let our outward circumstances dictate our inward stance? We lose our faith because the deaf guy that we prayed for still can't hear.... we feel hurt by the church, and life, and people, so we clam up and withhold love and hurt more people.... and all the while, we came into this whole relationship inspired to love when we understood that He first loved us... We were love struck by the man on the cross who... while we were yet sinning.... laid down His life for us.... and greater love has no one than this... that a man would lay His life down for His friends. God became a man and walked around on the very dirt that He once blew breath into to create the first of our kind... and then the Father allowed that dirt to crush His Son. It is too much to consider.... and Tom Cruise could never do it justice on the big screen.
The divine will of God will come to pass... and then prophecy will be no longer.....tongues will cease.... knowledge will be superseded by Truth..... and all that will be left to posses is love. What if we laid it all down for the sake of learning love instead of trying to strive to gain what we can't take with us anyway? The other day I was at my Grandparent's house and my (eighty-something years young) Pop-Pop couldn't find where he had put his new ipad that he'd gotten as a present. He was really anxious about it and I said, "Pop-Pop, don't let it stress you out.... you can't take it with you when you go anyway." His response was so witty... and true. He said, "Yea, you're right Jul... you never see a U-Haul following a hearse to the graveyard..." :-)
I'm not under the false impression that loving unconditionally is easy.... or that I've ever even really been successful at it for more than like 5 minutes... haha... I'm not saying that keepin' the love on when you don't even feel loved will just be all warm and fuzzy.... it probably won't.... but love does not demand its own way. I believe it is worth it though. The worthy things are always costly... and if this life is all about learning love and knowing God... then when it's all said and done, we will count everything else as dung anyway compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus.