Love beyond “word”

29Oct08

    We call each other “family.” And for the most part we pretty much like each other. Okay, we love each other. We usually smile when others in our church family are happy and we occasionally cry when brothers and sisters are in pain. Not (just) because we are commanded to. Our love emanates, not from duty, but from devotion.

    Sometimes we talk about the different kinds of love, and we linger over the word “agape.” We understand God’s love for us has no limits, even though our heads begin to hurt whenever we really think about anything infinite. Try to do a bar graph comparing your love for everyone you’ve ever known and plot that next to God’s love just for you. Not enough paper for that second column, is there.

    God knows we can’t be Him. Yet He encourages us to strive to be like Him. So while measuring ourselves against the I AM is futile, looking for ways to improve how we are with how we could be has some merit.

    Here’s an idea (modified) from the book “Pilgrim Heart” by Darryl Tippens. It offers an interesting glimpse of the true measure of our love for our neighbor. Try it for yourself and see if you can detect any difference from your first assumption to your tested answer.

    Imagine you live just where you are now, but 150 years earlier. Pick someone from your church family, but color them darker. Picture them through your window, running towards your house frantically. In the distance you hear the baying of bloodhounds. Then this person is pounding on your door. When you open, he falls to his knees and begs, “Please, hide me!” As you begin to recognize the voices of the dog handlers in the closing distance as those of your slave-holding neighbors, you must ask yourself, “Would I … hide him?”

    Now let’s fast forward about a hundred years, make a slight geographical adjustment and throw in a Deutsch accent. Pick someone else from a nearby pew. If a Star of David had been scrawled on her door yesterday and an imposing young man with a Swastika on his sleeve was standing at your door this morning asking of her whereabouts, would you quitclaim your neighbor or let her remain hidden in your attic, despite the possible personal consequences?

    Unsettling, isn’t it. This little exercise takes us from Sunday fellowship dinner love to the kind of love that comes with a pricetag.

    When Jesus asked the impetuous disciple about the measure of his devotion, Peter replied, “I love you … I love you … I love you.” Later he lamented the hollowness of his words.

    When we say we love one another, how sincere are we?

    Lord, thank you for the supreme example of selfless love. Give us the strength and the courage to have that kind of love for our neighbors.

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One Response to “Love beyond “word””

  1. I love it, Dad. Welcome to blogging!


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