As Christians, we always talk about the love of God. 1 Corinthians 13 – the famous book that contains the passage on love that everyone who has access to technology knows of. Most of us can recite it by memory: love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast… the list continues with all of these qualities we can say about God. Since God is love, all of the qualities of love can be applied to God thanks to the association property (I probably botched that math reference but I tried!) We preach about the love of God, we declare we are children of God, we say we are His chosen ones, the redeemed ones, saved ones, Jesus loves us so much He died for us, God loves us. We hear this all the time as Christians. Every page of the Bible is filled with God’s love for us. Every word drips with His affection. Every worship song we sing talks of this great love. We are constantly standing in the rain of His overflowing love. We can certainly talk the talk, but often do we walk the walk.
We can say we’re loved all we want, but nobody is going to believe us until we act like we’re loved.
As a woman, I think I can speak for most of us when I say we often find our source of love in the wrong men instead of the perfect man, Jesus. We get our affirmation and self-esteem from the words and actions of a boyfriend, lover, date instead of the one true God of the universe. How silly is it that we would trade in the love we get from the God who created everything for a simple man here on Earth. How silly is it that we believe him when he says our standards are too high and we decide to settle instead of believing we are worth loving right. How silly is it that we are afraid to be single because that somehow means we’re alone and unlovable. How silly is it that we believe our wishes and hopes don’t need to be fulfilled because of his excuses. How silly is it that we allow ourselves to be manipulated, lied to, cheated on, disrespected and pushed around by a man when there’s a God waiting to simply hold us. How silly is it that we decided to step out from under the showering of love into a drought. We’re thirsty but we convince ourselves we don’t need water, we’re fine with the mere sips we receive once in a while that trick us into thinking there’s an oasis ahead.
How silly is it that we decided dying on the cross wasn’t good enough for us.
I know that sounds extreme but that’s exactly what we’re doing when we decide Jesus’ love isn’t satisfying and find fulfillment in the arms of another man. God gets jealous and pursues us more than any other man will or can ever pursue us. He showed us the ultimate sign of love by sending Jesus to die for us. That sacrifice was meant to give us salvation, redemption, yes, but it was also a doorway to His love. It sounds so wonderful and perfect, it’s literally everything we’ve ever dreamed of!
Yet here we are, standing with our arms crossed, rolling our eyes and saying it’s not good enough. We’ve decided our jail cell is more comfortable and there’s no point in leaving even though the door was opened when Jesus gave up His soul. Why did we decorate the cell? Why did we decide the wooden plank bed was comfortable? Why did we decide the bars can be beautiful? Why did we decide to be prisoners?
The key in a shape of a cross has been handed to us yet we decide to put it on a shelf and forget about it. Why? Because God’s love isn’t tangible. Because we can’t see God. Because we can’t hear Him say, “I love you”. Because we can’t wake up to text messages from God. Because God is invisible. Settling for a man we can see, hug, hear loving words from, text everyday and take care of is easier, better, and tangible. So we do it.
The minute we’re single, we get this sick belief that we’re no longer loved and begin to scramble to keep a bad relationship together or run into the arms of someone else holding flowers and saying nice things. I am so guilty of this. I am guilty of standing before Jesus and telling Him His love isn’t good enough. I am guilty of walking away from the cross because a man in front of me looks better. I am guilty of deciding someone else loves me more than God. I am guilty of believing that God can’t save me. I am guilty of putting the nails in Jesus’ hands and walking away because He isn’t showing His love strongly enough or often enough. I am guilty of sitting on my prison bed, legs crossed, chin held high and ignoring Jesus even when He is standing at the door wooing me with love. Well, Jesus, You didn’t bring me physical flowers so You don’t love me as much as this person does. I am so guilty.
I continue this charade until my heart has broken one too many times and I come running to the door crying out for Jesus because I forgot where I placed the cross shaped key and I suddenly remember I’m a prisoner.
He comes to the door and holds out His hand with the key on His scarred palm and simply says, “My love, the key was always yours. The door was never closed. I may not have a dozen roses, but I have every flower in every meadow in the universe. I may not text you in the morning but I have scripture which says I love you on every page. I may not be visible all the time but I am sitting right next to you. Look at my creation and you’ll see me. I may not be audible all the time but I am whispering all the time. Listen to the songs of the birds and you’ll hear me. I may not have something tangible to prove my love but I have the scars on my body and the blood that was spilled to save you. I am love and I am in you. You are loved.”
What else can I do besides fall on my knees and say thank You?
One of the most painful feelings in the world is watching the man who claimed he loves you shrug, walk away and never look back when you tell him you want better. You stand there, tears falling, heart breaking, hoping he is just as heart broken but all he does is walk away without even blinking. All we did was fill a temporary gap and provide a moment of fun and self-esteem. We fed the ego and once it was full, it threw us out with the rest of the trash. What one man sees as garbage, another sees as treasure. My friend, you might feel like trash because someone else treated like you trash and made you believe it too. But to the Savior, you are treasure that He has picked out of the trash. He cleans you up and dusts you off. It breaks His heart when we turn back to see if the other man has turned around for us. We hope and we hope that he’ll chase after us but he doesn’t. To him, you are but a distant memory to be shrugged off. Even though Jesus hurts when we still long after the other man, He continues to clean and whisper words of love. We bury our face into Jesus and weep but when the tears stop and healing begins, we peek over our shoulder one last time. It breaks His heart yet He loves us so much that He would die all over again if we were the only person He was saving. He gives us the gift of salvation so freely. Why? We’ve rejected Him, spat on Him, told Him He wasn’t good enough.
Love. Real, unrelenting, everlasting, unchanging, true love.
The talk is easy. Anyone can say they believe they’re loved but not everyone can live like they’re loved.
How amazing would life be if the first thought we had when we woke up was, “Good morning, God. I love You”, instead of reaching for our phone hoping to wake up to cute messages from a special someone. What if God was our special someone? We wouldn’t have to wait for Him to wake up, He would stay up all night with us and He would always respond whenever we need Him. How amazing would life be if flowers stopped becoming a symbol of love and we started looking to the cross? Petals drop, flowers die and we always have to buy new ones. The cross always stands and never changes. It doesn’t rot or tip when the storms hit, it only grows stronger. Love fuels the cross and the source of love never gets weary. How amazing would it be if we actually believed Jesus died for us? Not just us referring to every person in the world but you and me. How amazing would it be if we actually believed He thought of us and decided we were worth the pain and suffering? How amazing would it be if we actually believed we were loved?
I’ve talked the talk for all of my Christian life. I’m so tired of sitting here preaching empty words. Why should anybody listen to a prisoner? What good are my words if I am stuck in jail? Who will hear me besides the walls? I want to walk the walk but I’m afraid I’ll fall. I can sit here and talk about the love of Jesus and still feel afraid to step out of the prison cell. I’ve been in here for so long and gotten so used to settling that I’ve forgotten what freedom tasted like, what true love felt like, and what it means to walk with Jesus instead of away from Him. He redeemed me. He saved me. He loves me. I want to love Him back and step out even if it means I fall.
One of two things happen when you fall, God catches you or you fly. I think it’s time to fall.