To truly step into life and to live in the Kingdom of God, we must encounter and embrace this highest ideal of love in our own hearts, homes and communities.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
Going through the classic C.S. Lewis novel with our young adult/college group at church has been a great exercise for myself and the other team ministering to them. It forces us to consider what the elements of true love actually are... what they look like, how they differ and what we’re going to do with them. The reality is this… to love is to risk.
The natural man has three powerful and amazing loves to experience in life, with or without an understanding of God’s love. But the Christian believer is exposed to a fourth and life changing supernatural love, foreign to any other... AGAPE.
For parents and families, this one love is the catalyst that moves a child's heart for a lifetime, not a moment. It promises to break through every human resistance and removes all trace of fear, doubt and our insecurities (I Cor 13).
It can only be found in the life of Christ, and until we allow our lives to be literally hidden in His, we will struggle to love as God loved us. After all, we would be trying to do something supernatural with only the three natural loves common to man. It’s all we can really muster up on our own. It’s awesome, but not enough to overcome and in time we will be hurt badly enough to force our gradual retreat from this field of life to lick our deep wounds and hide from love.
Many of us have run at times to the Church to find some of this supernatural love, only to be crushed by truth in a severe and painful expression of faith... communicated by some in a manner completely separated from the one essential ingredient of love. So our hearts tear deeper, and we are driven farther from the only source of healing and hope we have. Please, if this is your story, don’t let those past painful church experiences stop you from searching for God’s love. Keep looking... It is out there. It is real. It is our only hope.
To truly step into life, to live in the Kingdom of God we must encounter and embrace this highest ideal of love in our own hearts, homes and communities. Instead of being “right” love seeks to be. Love is the divine weapon shared by God to bring mankind true hope, redemption and restoration. It cannot be manufactured or created out of our own merit or invoked with deep contemplation to be better, it is the by-product of choosing to live each day in pursuit of our savior. It flows directly from the words of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the supernatural ability, desire actually, to get back up and move forward, to let go of our past, and pain and grab ahold of the promise of God to make “all things new.”
It is the missing ingredient in most homes, marriages and families. Its greatest enemy is apathy and is often misunderstood to involve only an emotional reaction or feeling toward another person. It is after all God’s greatest commandment for us to love Him and to each other. It is the power of our faith, our hope and our salvation.
- Affection – “Storge‘ – the love of family, instinctual–mother to child, natural and innate in healthy hearts and homes.
- Friendship – “Phileo’ – the love of comrades on the same mission. Not essential, but valued when found. Rare actually in our culture of making “acquaintances” with co-workers, neighbors and fellow church members... instead of sincere and tested friendships.
- Romantic – “Eros’ – the most overused of the love concepts in our culture. Focused on need, personal satisfaction and captured and confused by the love of lust.
- Perfect Love - “Agape’ – of all the loves... this love is NOT natural. It is supernatural, alien to the human mind and heart. But personified in the life of Jesus Christ. A love that requires no feelings of affection, friendship or romance. It surrenders its own to save another. It is the nuclear super-weapon of the faith. It conquers all, it cannot be stopped, beaten or reduced. It simple overwhelms any in its path.
I want to have LIFE, and I want to live for something greater than myself. I believe God gives some of us families... in part, to learn the deeper truths of love for ourselves and then to intentionally share that love with a new generation. To steward and pass along our Christian heritage to our kids as countless others before us have done with theirs.
That is a passion and pursuit worth living for.
Sharing the love that God Himself has shown to us individually is in Jesus words... the ultimate expression of Christianity... "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, ESV).
It’s really simple... give of yourself to help another. Let the Spirit of God show you who and how. Repeat. It will change your life... and kids, spouses and friends will glimpse a glimmer of the Christ living in you, here on earth. It’s always a risk that someone will reject that love, it’s a risk that is worth taking.
C.S. Lewis… in my humble opinion… was exactly right.