So, How Hard is it to Really Love?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12.9-10
- Love is and love does.
- My home church’s motto is “Love God and Love Others.”
- The Beatles sang “All you need is Love.”
- “Love is a Battlefield” was a 1980’s music video selling a million copies.
- “I Love NY” is a popular state slogan.
- One restaurant calls itself “We Love Burgers.”
The above random examples clearly make the case for why we are so confused about love! When we use the word for everything from loving our husband to loving hamburgers, the word is in danger of losing value.
But one truth I discovered a long time ago: I cannot love others until I first receive the unconditional love of God for myself. My Creator declares “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31.3)
Do you believe God loves you unconditionally?
In the original Old Testament Hebrew, the word chesed appears – often translated as “everlasting love” or “unfailing kindness.” Both are parts of this large word. One scholar notes that “no single word in our language is adequate to translate it, so we revert to the use of adjectives to bring out the distinctive quality and broad reach of this love.”
Yes, we first receive such love from God, but then we are called to generously dole out love as well. “We humans, who have been created in the image of God, are also capable of loving this way, even though we never seem to get very good at it. Chesed is love without regard to shifting circumstances, hormones, emotional states, and personal convenience.” (Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall)
I recently taught a mid-week Bible Study during the months of July and August – a time when most New Englanders are “at the shore.” I decided to call it “Finding Answers Together” tackling some of today’s pressing dilemmas. Needless to say, on the week scheduled for answers to the question “How Do I Love Difficult, Different and Demanding People?” the room was packed. Some people even came home from the shore to be there!
Because how do we make the choice to love someone who appears unlovable?
Shannan Martin and her family discovered the answer by radically changing their lifestyle, moving into the inner city and intentionally noticing others around them. “We watch from our windows. We venture outside. We receive the help that’s offered. We find ourselves connected in spite of everything we once thought stood between us… As our love for our place deepens, our love for its people will flourish. We taste the possibility and power of ordinary, luminous love, and discover we can’t get enough. In our heads, we understand that everything we accomplish is pointless if we cannot be known as people who love freely and fully.” (Shannon Martin, The Ministry of Ordinary Places)
She embodies today’s verse, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them,” Which is practically impossible unless we learn to look at others with fresh eyes.
Bob Goff does this by first admitting that people we often see as a problem, God sees as sons and daughters made in His image. His challenging, yet promising words: “Who has been mean or rude or flat wrong or creeps you out? Don’t tell them all your opinions, give them all your love. I know it’s hard for you. It’s hard for me too. You’ll also be misunderstood – you might not even understand yourself anymore. You’ll grow. as you practice loving everybody always what will happen along the way is, you’ll no longer be who you used to be. God will turn you into love.” (Bob Goff, Everybody Always)
May God turn us into love today. And may that love be part of healing our broken world.
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2019 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.EncouragingWords.net
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