Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. Colossians 3:14-15
I am becoming more and more convinced love is a lifestyle.
We often place limits around love.
We say with our words and lives, often unintentionally, ”Love is a feeling that can come or go, depending upon the conditions we find ourselves in.”
We say with our words and lives at times, “Love is an act we do and attach to the other actions–some motivated by love of God & neighbor and others not so much–that fills our days, our weeks, our summer months.”
As I ponder the Gospel narrative, spend time learning from some of the most brilliantly lit lives that have walked and are walking the earth, and try to make sense of the call to love God, my neighbor and myself, I am becoming more and more convinced that love is a lifestyle … a way of life.
I have heard before, “Love requires nothing.” Context is important, and in this particular context I believe the person was encouraging us to love without conditions. I understand the importance of that and believe this is one aspect of the call to love placed before those who choose to follow Jesus. Way too often, our love is loaded with moral, social, political and geographical conditions. This is not the lifestyle the One whose love for God and neighbor led him to a cross, where he forgave those who were screaming for the authorities to follow through with his capital punishment. Yes, we are to love without conditions.
Love, however, requires much. I believe it requires boldness, willingness, strength, intentionality, wisdom, patience, and stepping outside of the status quo and, most times, the places of comfort we have built for ourselves that hinder us from being in relationship with those those who are suffering, poor, marginalized, hurting, imprisoned, hungry, oppressed, sick, dying, naked, orphaned, crying and longing for community. If we have any hopes of encountering the Risen Lord, we’ve got to let Love daily take us to the places where Jesus dwells and those places are pointed out to us over 2,000 times inthe Scriptures but very clearly in Matthew 25.
“Where is the love?” some famous pop musicians once asked. I believe they are not the only ones asking this question. I have seen Love appear and move in small ways amongst people who have surrendered to love as a lifestyle in some profound ways. Hungry people are being feed, sick children are being made well, entire communities are forgiving people for horrendous acts of violence, relationships are being formed with some of the least likely companions, and poverty is being driven back.
There is still need. There is more. We still wonder where the Love is in so many situations.
May the witnesses of Love being realized in the world move us not towards so much comfort that we forget the world is still longing to encounter Love not built on power, military force, coercion or surrending to the status quo, but built upon sacrificial love that draws, frees, offers life and embraces. May we realize how crazy beautiful and transformative the way of Love is.
May we refuse to love small, while belonging to One who loves so big.
We do not have to travel too far to encounter the world God loves so much. As a colleague just shared on the telephone a few minutes ago, all we have to do is open our doors, literally, and step outside.
“My prayer is simple:
May we choose love, Lord.
May we choose love when faced with retaliation,
love when tempted by deception,
love when addressing poverty,
love when speaking to our neighbors,
love when lured by bad choices,
love when electing leaders.
In all the things we do, in all the words we say, and in all the places we go,
may we always choose love.
Ciona Rouse, Like Breath and Water: Praying With Africa