Love Has A Name

Love. What exactly does it look like? It is a box of chocolates and dozen roses? Is it a romantic date to a fancy restaurant? Naturally, we are all thinking about love this month and doing our best to express it to those we truly do love. I was thinking this morning, as I was traveling to an appointment, of what love looks like to me and how I might define it. Is it that tickle in my tummy I feel when my husband presents me with a well thought out gift that makes me feel special? Is it that perfect kiss with the sunset backdrop and music swelling all around? What does love look like?  While I love those things and think they are an important part of relationship here on Earth, I have learned in my own life that love is defined with one word...sacrifice.

Love is sacrifice

Well that isn't very romantic, Shannon! Yes, I know, it is not but I cannot help but believe that love; real, pure, unscathed love is all about sacrifice. Naturally, I think of Jesus when I think of love defined as sacrifice. If I am going to equate Jesus with love then what I see in my mind and heart looks nothing like a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. If love is sacrifice, and Jesus is love, then that means love is bloody, sweaty, anguished, even sorrowful. There is nothing gushy or gooey about the love I see on the cross. In fact, I am tempted at times to turn my head the other way because I cannot fathom love doing that to anyone, ever. Then I remember, my mind does not define love very well. My flesh cries out in selfishness that love is about ME and should make ME feel good. I cannot imagine hanging on that cross felt good. I cannot imagine hanging on that cross, that Jesus was thinking of himself. No, he was showing the world that love is sacrificial and selfless. Really, those two words are one. We will never sacrifice if we are selfish. I struggle with that one everyday! I am constantly checking my motive, my heart, my thought, to determine if I am moving towards sacrifice or selfishness. Jesus defined exactly what he was about to do when he gave us the great commandment. "There is no greater love than this, that a friend lay his life down for another." Again, sacrifice. If Jesus is to be the shining example of perfect love than I am certain I don't understand it. Jesus is not standing before me with flowers in hand, dangling chocolates  to give me "tickles in my tummy"! He is standing before me, his flesh scarred by my sin and shame asking me to pick up MY cross and follow him. Jesus is proof that love is painful, sometimes even ugly, but he is proof that true love redeems, restores and renews.

So, I find myself this Valentines Day feeling a little overwhelmed when I consider that the great big God of this whole universe chose to sacrifice his very self out of selfless love for me. That is passion. That is romance. That is love. I pray you truly accept and believe that someone thought you worth his very life and that he gave it willingly for YOU. There truly is no greater love than being willing to give your own life for others, and we have found that love in Jesus. As I said, he is asking us to pick up our own cross and follow his example. I don't always know what that looks like, but I know it isn't going to be an "easy ride". Love is hard. Love is work. Love is sacrifice. I pray that everyday my heart moves further from self and closer to sacrifice. There is a song I have been listening to lately that says "love has a voice, and love has a name. It's Jesus". It's true my friends. When our view is clouded by the world's definition of love, we can simply look back at the cross with it's anguish, pain, and sorrow and we can remember, love is not defined by us, it is defined by the cross. It has a name, it has a voice...it is Jesus.

Happy Valentines Day!

"For God SO LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and ONLY son so that whom ever BELIEVES in him WILL NOT perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

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