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I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who was recently married. He told me that his wife had a relationship before they met which had become physical. When the two of them began to see each other, they decided to wait until they were married, and had found great joy in having done the right thing. He said, what is odd is that it doesn’t upset him that she has a past, he has forgiven her and loves her with all his heart, but the only thing that bothers him is that he will never be able to know her the way that the other guy did. He is glad they waited, and wouldn’t do anything different, but it is a part of her he will never know.
There are profound implications when we try to cheat the love God intends for us. When we love as God desires, every relationship becomes deeper, closer, and more meaningful. When we cheat love, we give away a piece of ourselves, and take something from others, that we cannot replace. Forgiveness is available, and God can restore, but we can never get back the part of our life which we have chosen to give up. It is a truth that is powerfully made known in sexual relationships. God can mend a person, they can find the love He has for them with another, but there will always be a part of themselves that they gave away to someone else. When we seek love for ourselves through others, or believe that we are showing love to others by engaging in acts outside of the way God intended, there will always be a sacrifice involved.
A Christlike love never causes reason for one to feel that they have been cheated out of experiencing love with another. It does nothing that takes away from what a person is meant to be, it does not seek fulfillment at the expense of anyone, and it always brings peace and harmony, never introducing any reason for disconnect.
We were created to be in perfect union with God, ourselves, each other, and the world in which we live, and our lives are lived in the search to reconnect the unions which have been broken by sin.
At the beginning of creation, all things were as they were meant to be. Man was in loving harmony with God, humanity, and nature itself (Genesis 1&2). Sin entered the story through twisting the love of self into pride, and mankind was introduced to the devastating idea that maybe we could be more than God intended for us (Genesis 3:4&5). Harmony was broken, and things quickly spiraled out of control. Man and woman became ashamed of themselves (Genesis 3:7), hid from God (Genesis 3:8), turned on each other (Genesis 3:12), and then turned on nature (Genesis 3:13). Unity was broken (Genesis 3:14-19).
I believe that every problem we face with sin can be traced back to the desire for love, and every problem is overcome by discovering the love that God longs for us all to find through Him and the price He paid on the cross.
We were created in the image of God, bearers of a divine spark, and I believe this spark to be love.
When sin entered the world, it shattered the unions we were designed for. Sin then continues to reign in our attempts to reconnect these unions apart from the will of God.
We were created to love, and be loved, and sin is ultimately a perversion of love.
The love of self is perverted into pride and greed. The need for love is transformed into depression and, or, the need for power. The desire to love others is twisted into the desire for control. Our union with the world we live in becomes the exploitation of our planet, or the exhalation of the planet itself over the people who live on it.
The power of sin is rooted in our longing for the love we were created for, and every act of sin furthers the splintering of the unions God desires to reconcile.
I have heard it said that the difference between men and women is that women desire to feel love and connection, while men desire honor and respect. I would argue that all of humanity desires the same thing. A desire for honor and respect is a desire for love and connection. It is a need to be seen as the wonderful creation we are, and should be rooted in showing others the same thing. This is why our culture is drawn to music and movies which express our need to feel importance and acceptance. Media may express it as the need for more stuff, the act of catching the guy or girl we want, the frustration of being treated improperly, or the anger against all the things that make us feel wronged, but all of it is a cry for the love and connection we want to feel with the world. We watch reality TV so as to feel connected to the people whose lives are placed on display, performers are told to connect with the audience and to always leave them wanting more.
Consider the man who lives for his job. He has an inner need for love and respect, and has decided to seek fulfilling this need through success and power. His worth becomes rooted in achieving the next promotion, and he will step on anyone he must in order to climb the ladder of success. If he could just make more, just drive that car, live in that house, or gain that title, then he will be somebody; then others will look at him differently. Family, friends, and coworkers all become second to his job. He sacrifices true love by seeking love through achievement, and in his search for worth and purpose, becomes willing to give up everything else. His friends make statements like, “I don’t even know him anymore.” His wife and family are pushed aside. He becomes lost and empty; driven by the attempt to fill the void in his life with power, wealth, and making a name for himself.
Think of the people whose ministries become their lives, at the expense of their family and friends. Their desire to love others pulls them from the ones they are closest too. They become focused on the number of lives they can change, but lose sight of the importance of those nearest to them. The big picture focus of loving others causes them to miss the small acts that express profound love.
Our good works can cheat us out of experiencing the love we were meant to share.
We can get so caught up in OUR idea of loving people, that we actually miss out on love entirely.
This is why ministry can bring burnout and even cause families to fall apart. If we turn loving others into simply achieving a successful ministry, we will never experience a love that causes everything to become more united. If we turn loving our neighbor into a religion of works, we create our own standard by which we judge the hearts of others. We can begin with the good intention of growing closer to God and others and become lost in our own religion, which says that everyone should show love in the way that we have decided it is to be shown.
Jesus wants us to be known as belonging to our Father. He wants us to find satisfaction from our longing for love by discovering the worth and purpose we were created for. He wants us to make a name for ourselves by being associated with His name, and He says that all this will be known “by your love.” (John 13:34&35)
How we love determines how we live.
A Christlike love reaches out to everyone. It never places importance on one aspect of our being over another. It does not require us to lower our love of self for others, nor does it ever place ourselves over others.
We are worth love, and therefore all should love.
It seeks harmony in all things. It rejects sins perversion of love and opens the possibility for all love to be more meaningful. When we love as God intends, balance is achieved in life. There is no room for pride or greed. Any place of power is used to better love others. The need for control is replaced with a loving guidance that allows freedom. The planet we have been blessed with is cared for and order so that everyone and everything can benefit.
True love exalts all things and invites Heaven to Earth.
It brings importance and purpose to every aspect of reality. No one is seen as better than anyone else, and no one is left wanting.
Through true God-ordained love, all things find balance, and all sin is overcome.
All you need is love (I had to fit the Beatles in).
As we strive for the love God intends, we bring light into darkness, hope into despair, peace into chaos, harmony into discord, and fellowship into loneliness. No one and nothing is left outside of the love of God. All of creation is invited back into the unity that it was created to enjoy. We do nothing that would diminish the worth and purpose of all things. We speak joy, hope, life, and harmony into the world. We do not seek to elevate self, but elevate all things as God intended.
Love brings all things back to the Father. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be free to experience the bountiful, glorious, joyous love we share in an existence grounded in Him.
Our world is searching for true love, but so often we cheat ourselves and settle for sin’s twisted perversion.
We accept empty imitations, while God desires for us to experience the richness and beauty of a profound love that satisfies the deep longings of our soul. We accept sin’s lie that God is holding us back, and allow ourselves to miss the truth that He wants nothing more than to see us experience a life far beyond all that we could dream of.
One of sin’s most blatant perversions of love can be seen in our world’s decaying view of marriage. Marriage is intended to be a spiritual and mysterious union in which two people become one. A man and woman become whole through their joining into a covenant that is meant to be a source of encouragement, strength, harmony, and love. A husband and wife are meant to be a picture of what the unions we were created for looks like. Their relationship is to be one which lifts each other up, brings each of them closer to God, and better equips them to reach out to the world in harmony.
Yet our world has settled for sins deformed vision of marriage. It has become a union in which each partner seeks what they want from the other. Both hold on to their sense of entitlement and greed, and when the other is not fulfilling their needs, they separate. The world then begins to view marriage as unnecessary. Instead, when a man and woman decide that they are in love, they decide to live together and try out their compatibility (After all, it does make it much easier to walk away if things don’t work out.). When two people decide to play house, they are cheating themselves out of the joy of the commitment. The commitment of marriage is not meant to be a “ball and chain” which weighs two people down and holds them back from experiencing life, but a wondrous pronouncement that two people have become whole. It is the joyous proclamation that they have chosen each other, and wherever life may lead, theirs is a unity that cannot be broken. Marriage is not just a piece of paper, or a ring, but an amazing example of the reconciling of unity. It is two people joining together, forging a new life, and becoming a shining beacon of the hope of reconciliation. It is two people accepting each other as they are, and then always striving to become what the other needs.
Marriage is meant to be our world’s most beautiful picture of what a life of Christlike love looks like.
We have allowed one of the most amazing examples of unity to become commonplace and expendable.
We have become content with the hollow vision of love that our sin has shown us.
Our world has allowed sin to reign, and has let itself become blind to what true love looks like. Wrath, pride, greed, lust, envy, slothfulness, and gluttony have become the norm, and true love announces that these have no place here. Instead, love proclaims forgiveness, humility, charity, respect, the celebration of others wellbeing, an urgent desire to express joy and hope, and the need to see all things ordered in such a way that no one is left in need. Love is the uncompromising announcement that all things are wondrous, all things deserve tranquility, all things should be treated as holy, for all things are God’s.
Where there is love, there is hope.
Where there is love, there is peace.
Where there is love, there is joy.
Where there is love, there is grace.
Where there is love, there is mercy.
Where there is love, there is restoration.
In a world filled with longing and despair, love conquers all.
[box_info]Excerpt from “Fix Me, Love Them: Christianity as it Should Be”, by Matt Wells. Available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and iBooks[/box_info]
About Matt WellsMatt Wells is a born-and-raised Floridian, from Lake Worth. He currently lives in Florida with his wife, Heather, their baby daughter, Bella, and their dog, Marley. He is the author of "Fix Me, Love Them: Christianity as it Should Be", and can be found on Twitter (www.twitter.com/FixMeLoveThem), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FixMeLoveThem). He can also be reached at FixMeLoveThem@gmail.com
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Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)