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Extravagant Love

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

When you stop long enough to watch another, you might just see a thing or two which you'd have missed otherwise! The power of "observation" is a learned habit. It just doesn't happen one day. In fact, you have to learn to look beyond the surface to get really good at this - otherwise, you draw conclusions which are far from reality. It would be like the game we used to play as kids. We'd see someone or something and we'd make up some kind of story about what we were seeing. We saw what we wanted to see and formed the story around what we interpreted in our mind's eye! But...in the real world, this is a dangerous thing! We are indeed to be "watchers" - watchers of God himself. He is the one we should "observe" - taking in his "behavior" in order to learn how we are to approach life, answer life's questions, and create life's best outcomes. Watch what God does - and then do it! Instead of just "creating" a story about God, we are to do like God does! In God's world of reality, I am quite comfortable asking God if I can be on mission with him! How about you?

"MOSTLY what God DOES is love you". I added the emphasis here because I think it is important to realize God's greatest and most easiest observed attribute is his LOVE. It is in his actions, even when we don't see it! Look at how we learn how to make this attribute ours - we "keep company with him". I have special friends - enjoying every moment of "company" I get to keep with them. They fill my days with laughter, hold me close when I am low, and can just fill my "space" with warmth without even speaking or doing a thing. At my weakest moments, nothing and no one else fills my "space" as well as Jesus, though. In his extravagant way, he reaches into the "space" of our lives - loving us through to wholeness! It is more than making the lame walk or the dumb talk. He meets us at the point of our most desperate need and there, he transforms us. This may not seem significant, but his love is learned in observing his extravagance. 

His love is not miserly - it is extravagant. In what actions can we observe the extravagance of God's love? We see the extravagance of his laying down his divinity to take on the form of a human - in coming as a babe in a manger. We see the extravagance of his love in being willing to touch the untouchable in the world - those labeled as unclean by the others in society. He never skimped on his love - making not only wine from water, but the best wine of the evening. He always found time for even the least in the crowd - embracing the child, touching the grief of the mother who'd lost her only son, and restoring the guard's ear to full function after Peter attempted to lop it off. Nothing is "outside" of God's extravagant love - he is willing to humble himself for the sake of another; give the touch of hope where no hope exists; and restore what we so foolishly destroy in our haste and misunderstanding. Yet, his greatest display of love - his willingness to hang on a cross for our sins. The man who knew no sin, becoming sin for all mankind. Now, this bespeaks the ultimate sacrifice - the ultimate display of love.

We learn by observing, so God is asking us to consider the many "extravagances" of his love and then to begin to display those same extravagances in our actions. It takes a little change in our focus to do this. We have to begin to see the extravagances of God's love - first through our eyes, then through his. I really never understood the extravagances of my parents' love until I was a parent myself. In fact, as I was being loved through some of the ugliest periods of my life, they were faithfully extravagant in their love, but I was oblivious to their extravagance! I am older now, and I hope a little wiser. As I look back at their examples of love, I see the extravagance of God's love imitated in their lives. It is like God opens our eyes to his "extravagant love" not so much when we are experiencing it, but almost after we have been through it! Maybe it is because we have "clearer perspective" after the fact than we do when our emotions are all muddled up in the moment. What examples of God's extravagant love have you been observing of late? If we look hard enough, we might just see the example of his love in the one right next to us today. If we are willing, we could be the very example of his extravagant love the one next to us needs! Just sayin! 

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