June 11, 2011

radical love, radical lives.

i've started about 2 other posts in the last 24 hours, and just can't seem to focus on where my head is at. but on this cloudy summer morning, as i fill out apartment applications, get ready for some girl time, and my mind slowly wakes up, i finally think i have my head figured out a little.

if there's one thing i really want to challenge myself with better, it's loving on others. in the last few months, i've been challenged by God love - what it is to love Him purely and wholeheartedly. i've had to rethink friend love - what it is to be intentional with people, for their sakes, not only for mine. and i've said hello to boy love - a love different from any others, and yet, one that constantly holds me accountable in so many ways. this past week, T challenged us in church to eliminate distractions from our lives in order to more earnestly focus on God as we head into the summer. i think my biggest distraction is me. what can i out of this relationship? what has so and so done for me lately? what do i need to do today? with all this time, how will i spend my day? my heart couldn't be in a more wrong place.

often, i find myself keeping 'points' with people. it looks a little like this:

'today i did so & so for someone, and then i did this for them. yesterday, they did this for me, but today, i've done more for them. so tomorrow, i'll wait for them to do something in return, and then we'll be even again.'

it's terrible, i know. but don't we all do that a little? we make love and relationships, even our God relationship, about us. instead, every morning we should wake up asking ourselves, 'what can i do for my best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/family/husband/wife today?' if we all had that mindset, what a beautiful life this would be.

real talk: love is hard, because true love is never about self. Christ proved to us that love always considers others and denies self. we're called to selfless love time & time again, and yet, it is so. easy. to let self dictate our actions, our words, and our thoughts. i do it all the time.

you know how whenever you pray for something (i.e. humility, patience, etc), God then oh so conveniently gives you opportunities to practice those characteristics? God, lately, has given me plenty of opportunity to practice selfless love, and it hasn't always been easy. sometimes i'm tired, sometimes i feel burnt out. sometimes i feel used, abused, and under-appreciated. maybe you do to. but, look at Jesus, the most powerful testament of selfless love:

He left His Father's throne and came to Earth and 'made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.' your King of Kings & Lord of Lords, whose life was endangered from the moment He was born, then lived a life of radical ministry, only for it to end in the most awful death. His life was perfect, He was, and always will be, flawless. and then, He suffered a punishment so cruel and torturous, we can't even fathom it. He laid Himself upon that cross for us, because of our sins, our selfishness, our flawed humanity. His love manifested itself in truly humble obedience, receiving nothing in return, except for His eternal reward. His sacrifice paid for the sins of all time, and yet, God never forces us to surrender to Him. He gave up His only Son, He turned his face from the One He loved most - all. for. us. and still, over and over again, we turn our back on Him.

we may be good people, we may be Sunday Christians, but our faith calls us to so much more than a 'good life.' we are called to be radical in our lives, in our love. He never, ever, promised it would be easy or comfortable. if we removed the Christian label from our lives, would it really look much different? where is our need for God? do we see challenges as areas of potential growth? or do we only see darkness and say, 'it's just too hard'? do we see uncomfortable situations or difficult circumstances as another reason to further cling to God? or we do avoid discomfort and instead stay where it's easy & safe? how are we reflecting Christ in our lives?

these words are as much a challenge to me as they may be for you. if you've perfected love, please, teach me how, because i fail at it time and time again. i hurt people, sometimes unintentionally. i let self get in the way and ignore the little voice in my head calling me to obedience. i'm a mess up, but, in all honesty, i'm thankful for the mistakes. they remind me that i cannot do this on my own. that perfection is something we are called to pursue, but i am beyond imperfect. it's one more reason that i need grace, patience, and unconditional love. one more reason i'm reminded of my need for Christ. one more reason i'm floored by His selfless love.

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