Recently a friend of mine attempted to clarify what he had observed, “You love deeply, don’t you?” (An unpleasant situation between me and another party whom he knew had been the cause of this). He proceeded to ask me whether I considered all as friends or whether I differentiated as acquaintances, professional acquaintances etc.
Well, if only I could love deeply!! Yet, I know that’s what I should be doing… love deeply. I told him that if I was to represent Christ, to be His ambassador and witness unto Him with my own life then I have to love deeply. It doesn’t matter whether the target of affection doesn’t love me back or care about me let alone show gratitude. As long as someone has been placed in my life, for a time and a season maybe – even so, I long to be God’s vessel of love. Yet, let me clarify, that needs to be with discernment… Jesus makes it clear to be as harmless as doves and as shrewd as serpents… He also tells us not to throw pearls before the swine.
Why do I feel a longing (a long way to go to achieve this longing I have to admit!) to love deeply?
When I was about 6 years old in the UK, my neighbour who was my classmate’s mum invited us along to Sunday School. I first came to know about Jesus then and in my childish innocence, I embraced Christ. A few years later, we returned to our hometown – Jaffna in Sri Lanka. I embraced the traditions and religion of my parents and relatives. Yet in my heart, I longed to know Jesus. My younger brother died on the 10th of April (yup today is his death anniversary) and I recall looking at the Hindu temple near our home which I frequented in worship regularly and asking the statues (which I used to believe as god) why I couldn’t have been taken instead, sparing this young perky (we used to call him Perky) life. It was a pointless conversation, talking to stone I suppose.
A few months later we moved to the capital of the country. My older brother began taking me along with him to church, youth fellowship and often places where he preached. I remember giving my heart to God. Due to my dad’s opposition in attending church, when we moved to New Zealand I got involved in the Christian groups at school and then University. However, love for family and family pressures saw me becoming a Hindu again. At one point I didn’t go to church nor did I go to the temple… I wanted to get to know Jesus as I knew I was missing out on something. The Bible was a book of law, one I couldn’t measure up to – well that’s how I saw it then…
However, years later, through life’s storms Jesus revealed Himself to me. (If you are keen on hearing more, and you haven’t already read it, this is how – https://priyanthiv.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/shepherd/) I finally embraced Jesus, went running into His open arms.
I recall a time when I felt God leading me to show love to one of His children… This guy was being a porcupine so to speak and although he had cared about me much for a time and a season, he was becoming cold. I asked God why He wanted me to do so with such a character… God questioned me back, “When did you first hear about Jesus?”. I replied… Then came the next answer, “When did you finally embrace Him as your Lord and Saviour?” Ouch!! That was like decades later… God then told me, “Ahhh so you expect me to wait till you are ready to fling yourself into my open outstretched arms, but you don’t want be patient with my son?” Well, I am so grateful to God for the many friends in my life who have been there for me despite my failures, weaknesses, wrong choices and most of all hurting them… I appreciate their love – shouldn’t I do unto others likewise?
Jesus loves us… He loved us first and thus died on that cross so that we can be reconciled with our Heavenly Father… God loved us even though we didn’t love Him back… In fact, we still don’t love Him as deeply as we should… Well, I know I don’t – I’m constantly aware of how much I fall short of truly loving Him and truly trusting in Him. I often feel like the Israelites who murmured despite God’s carrying them through the wilderness providing and protecting. How much I wish I had unwavering faith without worrying about tomorrow?
Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him. Did He love Judas any the less for it? Jesus knew Peter was going to deny Him. Jesus knew that His disciples were going to fall away after His death for a time. Did He love them any the less for it? Why is it then, we love people expecting them to love us in return? We talk about wasted emotional energy… Is investing God’s love in peoples’ lives a waste? Imagine if Jesus hadn’t come to earth and died on that cross saying the same? After all, how many of us are truly loving Jesus the way we ought to? Aren’t most of us going on about our own selfish businesses most of the time unlike Jesus who went about His Father’s business? Aren’t most of us seeking first the cares of our lives before seeking God’s Kingdom? Is this what Jesus says in Matthew 6:33?
(Having said all this, we shouldn’t be loving anyone – whether it be a parent, spouse, someone we long to marry, a child etc etc – in such a manner that we place them above all others and especially God to the extent that they consume our entire thoughts and affections… That is unhealthy love… and could be a symptom of a deeper hurt that needs to be addressed).
Love heals… Love helps each other grow… Love builds up… Is it of any wonder then that Jesus summarised all the laws and commandments into the two greatest commandments which centre on LOVE… Love for God and love for our neighbours – as ourselves?
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
(1 John 3:2-6)
Jesus tells us, His disciples
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).
God’s Word puts much emphasis on loving one another and outlines ways of doing that too! Hasn’t Jesus set the ultimate example for us?
Fact is, we would love deeply (or at least strive to do so) if we truly believed in loving our neighbours as ourselves. Falsehood and hypocrisy and being two faced will automatically dissolve… as we seek to love each other as ourselves… Selfish ambition would vanish as we seek God’s Kingdom and look at believers as the temple of God. We will seek to nurture and build up, not condemn and not tear down…
Love is patient,
Love is kind, (being kind does include discipline / speaking the truth in love)
Love does not envy ……..
Love is not self-seeking (it doesn’t expect anything back in return, even to be loved back!)
Love is not easily angered…
and much more… ( 1 Corinthians 13)
- Are you loving people or even God for that matter expecting something back in return? Are you asking the question, “What’s in it for me?”
God is my all in all – He is the one who loves me unconditionally and I find my security in Him… The more secure I am in Him, the more it doesn’t matter how people treat me, it doesn’t matter what people think of me or how they label me, it doesn’t matter because whatever they do, they are doing it against God’s child and that’s between them and God. But my decisions and my actions – I am accountable to God!
And if I loved God, I would love my neighbour as myself… (Once again I confess I fail in these areas but my heart’s desire is to endeavour by God’s grace and His mercy!!)
“Above all things have FERVENT love for one another” (1 Peter 4:7)
And I just saw a quote while searching for an image which says a lot!
“Love deeply, Hold loosely”