“Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:1-2, Mes)
I think i’ve returned to this passage 78 times this summer. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. 72 times. And every time I come to it, it just rocks my world. Love extravagently. Love so that you give, not get. Ouch.
I know Paul wasn’t pointing fingers… but he seems to be. I want to be a person of love- i see them all around me and that’s what i want to be. I think i could be good at it if i was able to choose my targets. I could love soraya in a way that gives instead of gets. but then again, she offers me so much joy by loving her that maybe it’s a selfish love, too. it reminds me of that episode in friends where phoebe says there’s no such thing as an unselfish deed… that we only do good things because we like feeling good about it. sometimes i wonder if i love when it’s hard not because i’m a loving person but because i know i “should” or it’s the thing to do.
but i don’t want to be a person who simply follows through on orders. i want to be a person of love and compassion… someone who loves extravagantly, not just enough to make the other person feel loved. not just enough to be a good wife, sister, daughter & friend, but with so much love that it can only come from God himself.
so i ask (rhetorically, of course), why do i have so much problem loving in such a way? why do i stop just before jumping off the selfless cliff? what fears me? because we know, thanks to john the first, that there is no fear in love because perfect love casts out all fear. so what am i scared of?
a good shrink would probably tell me i’ve been wounded in the past. whatev. i can’t recall any deep woundings. if anything, i think i had a wonderful example of selfless love in my father. but i can’t seem to want to make the plunge into a life centered on God and flowing with love simply because God finds joy in the things that i love (ie: people). they’re God’s creation and i should love and cherish them for basically no other reason…
once again, a process.
i’m trying, i really am.
tonight at journey we talked about PSaul’s conversion (thanks, tyler, for that crafty way of getting around the “what name do i use?” issue). lots of great discussion, but it left me with a few parting, interwoven, thoughts. First, as 21st century Americans, we typically value Psaul for his contributions in building the church. a great contribution it is! he built what we now function from… i’m a psaul fan, so the following comments are in no way a slander to psaul’s glorious work for God. But God didn’t love Paul because of what Paul did for God. God loved Paul because God is love. God loved Paul for the man he was and for the man he was to become. In our task-driven, workaholic culture, i think we walk a dangerous line of valuing people because of what they can do for us. one of my professors often said we tend to make the people around us either scenery or machinery. we use them to make ourselves look better or to make us more functional. But God doesn’t do that. He doesn’t see his children only as a means to carrying out what is going on in his mind. He loves us for who we are before he loves us for what we can do. i work at a place that does outsource recruiting and hiring. basically, we find good people for jobs. God does not work at RTi. God does not look through our resume of activity and decide which of my experiences will be most beneficial for the position he has open for changing the world. he doesn’t see that i have a bit of church-work experience that would fit well for what he’s looking for. God doesn’t dig around and find something useful for him. as jim said, God was quite brilliant in having Paul as his man for forming the church. but i think it’s bigger than that. God didn’t see Paul as the perfect candidate. God created the perfect candidate in Paul. which brings me to another thought… God loved paul because God created him. and (*important nugget of personal information: i do not typically veer closely to the edge of pre-destination. I believe God gave us the power to love him by giving us the gift of free will and choice. so what i’m about to say has large implications knowing where i began…)when we consider the idea of “God’s plan for your life” and “God’s will” i think we often only think of our usefulness to God. where can i serve, what can i DO for God. we forget that God is creating us and renewing us to be his children. that his plan for us began long before we conceptualized His plan. if you were to ask Saul pre-damascus trip, i’m sure he would have told us that he was following God’s will for his life. but after an encounter with jesus, that understanding of God’s will changed. God’s will didn’t… Psaul’s understanding of it did. i’m sure there’s more to this, but this is a good ending spot. perhaps more another time?