In this is love…
This is something God has been teaching me in the past few months. Up until recently I read this and I saw “God really loves us”, but over time I have come to realize that it actually says “God loved us even when we hated Him (Romans 1:30).” This goes against everything I understand in the flesh. I love people who love me, but people who hate me…this is a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I have believed this, but it has been mostly head knowledge. Why you ask…well, I hang out with almost entirely Christians. For me, it is really easy to understand that the unbelieving act accordingly.
During the past year, God has been working on my heart. He has been showing me areas of compromise, weakness, strength and holiness. As God refined me in these areas, I expected that the fellow Christians I know would see the work God was doing…but this time was different. This time was hard. I would explain what God expected of me and people started looking at me crazy, I was seen as being “too extreme”. I was called pious, self-righteous and hypocritical. I was told I was being too serious and expecting too much of others and even being legalistic. To be fair, I didn’t approach every situation with experience and perfection, but I can say I did my best. Yet, in much of this I was approached in anger. I was reviled and even slandered at times. Really? I ask you nothing more than the bible already commands and you treat me like this? Why?
I questioned my methods. I question the motives of others. I questioned my beliefs and convictions. I (shamefully) even questioned God’s methods and expectations. Yet, in all of this, I received no answer. I didn’t understand. I COULDN’T understand. I refused to understand. I needed answers. I NEEDED to KNOW. But in all of this I received no answer.
A short time ago I wound up in bed for three days. I had reached my end. I didn’t go to work, I barely ate, I didn’t leave my room (except to use the restroom), I just laid in bed and cried bitterly. I was undone…I was undone. I prayed for God to take my life. I prayed for days for Him to kill me…nonetheless I lived. And yet, at the end of the day I had no more answer than I had started with.
Recently as I was browsing the web, I ran into 1 John 4:10 (see above). It was profound and it read me like a book. I didn’t know why it stuck out so boldly, yet there it was. I decided to save it as my browsers home page and every time I opened my browser there it was. After reading it more times than I remember, it hit me. “In this is love, not that we loved GOD.” That was it. That was the reason it stuck out. God was teaching me what love is. Again I had missed a vital part of love. I had missed the key to all of it. True love involves loving people at their most apathetic as well as their most loathsome.
This is why I struggle so often with other people. I only love them as I was taught by the world, instead of the way God had been teaching me. I loved them when they loved me. I wanted to be around them when they were pleasing to me. That however is NOT God’s love and certainly is not taking up my cross. I have come to terms with what love is and I am trying my absolute best to suffer patiently in order to love and be loved. It has been a couple of weeks since that epiphany and in that time numerous things have been resolved, while others haven’t. Some relationships were restored and strengthened…others weren’t. Still, in all of this I have learned a few things again.
- Christianity is hard.
- Love hurts.
- God’s ways are not our ways.
- Our promise of eternal life in heaven is my only reason for living.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” – Matthew 5:46