Here, you’ll experience human love, service, care, concern, kindness. Not as often as we’d like but it does happen. Yet, underlying all that is a level of self. Do you understand what I’m alluding to? The ever-present part of us that can’t help but think of ourselves not even for a microsecond. Ok, let’s say you see a person in need, instinctively, you respond with compassion. Maybe in that moment you are not aware of yourself, but what happens if they are ungrateful? Or indifferent? What if it remains that way and you’re never appreciated or acknowledged. How long would you keep it up? What if you knew that before you got involved? The first time, I may overlook, but I won’t be void of any self thoughts. Right? Those thoughts influence my next steps.
Parenting is like that. Right now you’re thinking, hey, I give and give to my children because I love. But be honest, you’re still susceptible to self thoughts. You’re not that selfless. Maybe you’re a super human and you’re consistently good at putting yourself aside. So, I’m assuming. Still, I doubt it.
-But- God isn’t that way. He never thinks, “your past, current or future thoughts, actions, behavior, low response levels, etc. affect how I feel about you, therefore, I’m going to adjust my love accordingly ” THAT is human behavior. Do not superimpose that on Him.
From a recipient standpoint, this is awesome news! If I ended this blog post with that, then I would be giving you half the story. As true as it is that God has phenomenal love for us that has no parallel, the one who responds to it, is required to emulate that same love. That is the hard news inside the Good News. It is difficult because unlike God, our profession and our actions are inconsistent. The incongruity is due to our inability to completely and permanently remove our self from our love. Our love is sharing space with our selfs. There’s kind of a gap there because they can’t mix. (When I say “self” I don’t mean loving yourself. That has to do with our understanding of our value in God’s eyes.) I am referring to self(ish). The me factor. If that’s the way it is, how can we ever truly love fully? I don’t think we can even if we proclaim it over and over. But I do believe we can love to the best of our ability as we respond to Jesus’ Love:
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (He washed the disciple’s feet)
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:1+7
Why that verse? Jesus knew that the time had come and He knew the outcome, the beautiful and the ugly. He decides to follow through anyway, but right before he serves mankind, He serves His fellow man. With the feet washing. That is an act of loving fully. He didn’t think, I’m already going to die for them. That’s enough. Jesus loved to His greatest capacity. And He did it knowing full well our hearts. Neither Jesus nor God had a contingency plan if we all didn’t respond. They were going to go through with this no matter what. It was always the plan. I know this because:
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” 2 Timothy 1:9
It is a very complete plan. We receive His Love and He has a holy life for us. The Holiness does not come from any self-manufactured decision to repent. It comes from God’s Love that already loved fully, but now it goes beyond that and steps in the space between our genuine love and our selfs. He gives us the capability to take our receptive heart and do the things in us that were never possible before, even selfless love.
“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
You say, “I will love unconditionally and without reservation. I will give my soul to it whole and I will follow John 13:34-35. I will, I will….” But you can’t do it perfectly without God interjecting on you behalf. He is our Love when ours falls short. I really do think, as a disciple, we WANT to love. We WANT to use it all up. We won’t ever, technically, not even on our premium spiritual days. Protest this, if you want, I don’t care. Grace testifies to what I am saying. Yet, if we give our hearts completely to God, He, Himself is the way to Loving Fully.
…if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Love Always (and Fully)