Thursday, August 9, 2018

Love connection

It is so easy sometimes to just "fake it" when it comes to loving other people. We make everything "look good" on the outside, but on the inside we are really just not all that into it! Loving others is a LOT of work! I don't think God challenges us to do anything more difficult than to love unconditionally, just as he loves us. We almost always have "strings attached" when it comes to demonstrating our love to another human being. If you don't believe that, then let me ask you if you have ever felt a little bit slighted when a courtesy you have extended to another has been overlooked? Maybe someone overlooked an important date in your life, or perhaps they did not pick up on a hint that you'd really like to have them take a small burden off of your pile of things to do. When that was overlooked, how did it make you feel? Most of us would honestly admit that we felt like we were "let down". Ultimately, we make judgments based on how 'well' someone hits the mark when it comes to expressing their appreciation or love for us. Right or wrong, we form an 'opinion' of the other individual's actions toward us. If we want to learn to love as God loves us, then we have to learn to look beyond these 'opinions' we might form and see the other person through the eyes of grace instead!

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (Romans 12:9-10)

These words are more than challenging - they are downright impossible in the natural or human sense. As much as we try, we cannot love unconditionally - it is not humanly possible. It takes a transformation of heart - that which is only available in Christ Jesus - to actually "remove the strings" that are attached to our actions of love. It also takes an exchange of our will - we may not "feel" like another is deserving of our love because of their actions (or lack of actions), but Christ commands us to love them anyway! The 'strings' that should be attached to our love are the ones that help us make a consistent connection with Christ so that we learn to love as only he was able to love!

What is described here is the willingness to "play second fiddle" - to not always be the one in the center of the room. In a large orchestra, the man or woman assigned to the position of "first fiddle" has a huge role as the lead violinist. There are perhaps upwards of fifty or so other violinists in the orchestra, but not more than one "lead". "Second fiddle" violinists have the unique role of supporting the lead - they "back up" the lead with all the other intricate, but vital parts that need to be played in the piece being performed. So it is with us when we are being asked to be content playing "second fiddle". 

We are to perfectly complement the talents, abilities, and inadequacies of others without envy, malice, or indifference. In this way, we are displaying the love of Christ to them. It is love from the core of who we are now - at the point of 're-creation' as a result of our new birth (when we ask Christ to be the center of all we are). There has been an exchange of heart. The "core of all we are" is now Christ in us - the hope of his glory revealed in us with each action and reaction. When we are asked to love from the core - we are asked to love from the life of Christ that dwells within us. We may not feel like it (because our emotions have not caught up with our "exchanged heart" yet), but we are to do it anyway. We aren't faking love, but we are trusting God's grace in us to help us see the things that make another 'love-worthy' in God's eyes. You see, he loves them, so we need to display that love - we may be their only connection with that undeniable love they will ever see!

In such a display of love, we are being good friends to those in our circle of influence. We are to discover beauty in everyone. We may have to look deep to see beauty in some individuals - just because they are always rubbing us the wrong way, but trust me on this one, it is there if we look deep enough - beyond the surface of what they say and do. When we begin to ask God to train our eyes to take in their beauty INSTEAD of the things that are offensive in the other person, we often can begin to see small character traits in another that we missed before. It changes our perspective of how we see one another. 
Love is a thing of discovery - first we have to discover how very much God loves us and how he displays that love - then we have to discover how to display that love to others God brings across our path. Whose life have you been asked to "discover" love in today? To discover is to simply notice - by asking God to give you eyes to notice the beauty in another over their offensive behavior or words they may display on the surface is the beginning of how it is we can discover and reveal that love. In this way, we are beginning to love as Christ loves us. Just lovin!