The Love of God

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A man came by last night on his lawnmower to meet me. Apparently this is something that you do in the South when you have a new neighbor; perhaps not on a lawnmower but still.

He and I talked for awhile about kin and dogs and whether or not a poisoned dead dog would look different than a dog that had died normally. I also learned about his daddy having been the Pentecostal preacher there from the sixties until his brother-in-law took it over a few years back. It was nice, I got a glimpse of my neighbor’s life, his place in the area and his personality. I also found out that the other neighbor is in a nursing home and her son (that’s seventy his-self) is overseas and that’s why that house is abandoned. Also there are critters of some sort living under the roof… but I digress.

Afterwards I learned that this neighbor is very well respected in the community and everyone loves him. I thought about that this morning long and hard; it may very well be true but what does that mean? I think it means that no one has anything against him and that he is appreciated and liked, but loved? Perhaps to the normal citizen that’s love, perhaps even to the normal Churchian that’s love? I am left wondering if the original definition of love has been completely bastardized by our complete and total unfamiliarity with its concept.

We don’t really love many things anymore. Sure, you’ll say that you love your kids; you feel protective and have an emotional response to them but do you love them? We love our boyfriend, girlfriend, friend-friend, best friend, husband, wife; we love a lot of people and say it so flippantly that it becomes like ‘roger, over and out’. I mean, some people will say that they “love” their dog or cat or pet gerbil Buddy for crying out loud. Yes, you have emotions towards it and you are attached but is that love?

It makes sense considering our actions; If you can “love” a dog and “love” your husband too, is it any wonder that you can so easily forget that love, treat them like a dog and drop them off at the pound? And if that’s how you act towards people and animals in the name of love, it’s obviously how we relate to God. I think many of us “love” God, we’re just not “in love” with Him anymore.

Consider that Jesus said that if you love Him, you’ll keep his commands (John 14:15) and keep his words (John 14:23). Follow that, it’s not an emotion nor whether you feel hot or cold inside, if you love him you’ll do as he says. Now go read Luke 6:20-49. So do you love him?

I think most of us love as long as it benefits us. When the cost gets too high or you are not personally benefitting, your love waxes cold. God shows us what love is through His dealings with us. He never walks away needing time to deal with himself (if you don’t love yourself, how can you truly love others?). He never calls His relationship with us co-dependent and opts to free himself from our mess. He never has enough of our weakness and decides to throw us away. No, when God decided in His sovereignty to love us, He makes the dual decision to endeavor to persevere until the very end. Thank God for that!

We know that we should love God as well and that love is not only obeying His Word but it is to be with ALL of our heart, ALL of our mind, ALL of our soul and ALL of our strength and carries with it a qualifying action: love your neighbor as yourself. I have failed at this and so have you and yet it is God’s desire that you give Him exactly that level of love and then prove it by walking it out, no matter how tired you are of someone’s mess. Nothing else can or will please God’s heart and let me add, nothing else is even close to being what the world needs.

We are good at singing our lies in little songs before “the church” but God calls true worship caring for the widows and orphans and remaining unspotted from the world. There’s that pesky corresponding action again. Don’t say you love Him and then do things that He hates covering yourself in grace; your failings show the true condition of your heart.

I have been the guiltiest person on the planet with some of this, that’s where I got it. Believe me, God gets on me and I get on you, that’s how it works. But true love for God always brings you back to a place of revelation, restoration, repentance and peace.

I love God and I never wanted to mess up, drink, fight, backslide. Never. I also do not believe in moral inability, I have done the things I’ve done because I wanted to do them. Yet through it all I saw the corresponding action of love for my neighbor peeking out and though I could not correct myself due to utter devastation, I called out to God every single day for help. When rock met bottom (which took a lot of false bottoms) I found my God waiting again for me.

He has restored gratitude from the grave in me.

He never gave up on me, he never said He couldn’t take any more. He used my failures to break me, my humiliation to humble me, my pride to chastise me and my anarchy to shame me by His steadfast love. I have seen this with people over the years as well; they just pray me through my puke and wait for God to restore His kid that He loves so much. This caused in me a form of gratitude from the grave as well, that certainty that I would never leave them either and would defend them to the death. God, why can’t we learn that what people need from us is not a light show but obstinate love that echoes God’s own?

I had a buddy that stayed with me this year. Man, he and I would drink and fight like cats and dogs. I personally knocked him out like seven times, cracked his ribs, broke his foot, choked him to sleep. He would leave and come back the next day perfectly fine because he knew I wouldn’t hold it against him and he was loved. And it was this that caused him to get saved in my living room and drew him to God. It wasn’t my beautiful Christian life because I was in free fall! Yet amazingly I watched God’s irresistible grace draw him in the midst of mess. I love the guy, he’s my friend and God help you if you mess with him when I’m around.

Love isn’t perfect but love always shows itself for what it is. If your source of love is flesh or emotion, your own actions will tell on you. If it is the love of God eking out in spite of you; even a tiny bit will change every life you touch.

Let’s not mistake things here; we need a correction because God needs actions birthed in Himself fully displayed on this earth.

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