lately, lots of my thinking has been centered on love. what love is, what it looks like, how it manifests itself differently in different scenarios.
i had the honor of singing at my friend brennan’s wedding. i sang brandon heath’s song, love never fails, which is based roughly on 1 corinthians 13. it focuses on the different qualities of love; it’s not proud, it stands firm, it protects and hopes, rights wrongs. it never fails.
i realized, sitting at the table, watching brennan and her now-husband brad (not me, to clarify) hold hands and beam at each other, that i love weddings. it caught me off guard a little, but it’s true nonetheless. i think my favorite part of any wedding is the exchange of vows. these days, for many people, one’s word doesn’t mean a whole lot. we don’t take it seriously, at least not as much as when we put it in the context of a promise. but isn’t giving our word the exact same thing? hearing wedding vows, those promises of loyalty and love in the best and worst of times, remind me of God’s promises to us. there’s a reason that Jesus and the church are often referred to as groom and bride.
how can anyone talk about love and not talk about Jesus? how can i do that? it’s the only true example of perfect, holy love. Jesus, who knew no sin, died a violent and bloody death for His bride, the church, us, knowing that on the whole we would be sinfully and spitefully rebellious, even after accepting His proposal. that kind of a love is hardly even comprehensible for humans, because we are so completely focused on ourselves. in fact, the only way to even begin to know that love is to know Him who personifies it.
we need to know Jesus. all of us. every single day.
i have another favorite part of weddings. once the whole stage has been set, the bridal procession has walked, and everyone looks expectantly toward the back doors for the bride, i watch the groom. when the door opens, or the curtain parts–when he first sees his bride–his face lights up. brad, as i watched, got this small, knowing smile on his face. tears started welling up in his eyes, and he had to wipe them away so he could better see brennan, who looked absolutely beautiful in her wedding dress. he was so utterly and helplessly in love with her, and it was just so cool to witness.
that kind of a love is reflected in the way that God passionately pursues us. even when we turn to sin and things that don’t satisfy, trying to put them in place of God, the One that not only deserves our priority, but functions as the only thing that can truly fulfill us, He reaches out for us to pull us back in. sometimes we don’t get it, for a long time. we turn our backs on Him, get angry with Him for taking away things for which we feel shallow love. sometimes His love is so far beyond our comprehension that we see it as hostile.
but it’s pure, powerful, wonderful love. love that doesn’t see our sin, but Christ’s righteousness. love that forgives the same exact sin for the millionth time, even though it knows the sin will appear a million times more. love that defies human explanation. love that inspires more love. love that was so intense, a man lived for over thirty years knowing that His purpose would be to die for sins He never even committed. even as a child, He knew that.
it’s also a love that motivates action.
i’m reading a book by bob goff called love does. it’s a series of stories in this guy’s life, and many of them are connected to this idea that true, selfless love doesn’t stop at a feeling. it leads naturally to action. love isn’t complete unless is=t is expressed by doing things.
with camp coming up, these ideas have really been playing a role in how i think about being a counselor and friend this summer. what are ways i can be loving the kids and counselors (and everyone else)? if the point is to point people to Jesus, then it would make sense to love in the way Jesus did, to be a reflection of Him so that when people see what i do, they aren’t drawn to me, but to Him.
how awesome would it be if every single staff person at camp were selflessly loving every child with which they came into contact? how radically would the lives of these campers be changed? how amazing would it be if the foundation for the relationships between counselors was that of love–a love reflective of that which Jesus showed?
it would be freaking awesome! it wouldn’t possibly be able to be contained at camp!
“dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” –1 john 3:18