Living Crazy Love
Lately, I have been focusing and pondering a lot on love. Not that I shouldn’t have love at the center of my heart, soul, and mind every minute, every hour, and every second of the day…undoubtedly, I should. God is love. Love is everything. Our faith is worked by love. Our honor and obedience to God is worked by love. Love is the essence of who we are in Christ Jesus. And without it, we are nothing.
But God has done something new in me. And if I can backtrack a bit, there was a specific time period in 2014 where God showed me that my expressions of love – although with great intentions – were sometimes injurious and flawed. And He still continues to show me this. We all know what they say about great intentions…they aren’t always enough. We need more than good intentions to glorify the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. We need to live as if we are sons and daughters of God. We need to renounce ritualistic tradition and rely on His grace to keep us. We need to walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh. When God shows us something about ourselves, it can be painful to see. At times, we would much rather prefer not to see what He is trying to show us – even if it will heal us. However, we must understand that He shows us these things because He loves us. He shows us because He wants to sanctify and purify us for His glory. When our Father God makes us aware of our sin, it is never to condemn us, but to bring us to repentance. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), and I truly believe every word that He says.
With this in mind, being aware of our sin as children of God is a gift offered to us for our sanctification. God is working to conform us more into the image of His Son…and that’s a beautiful, amazing, glorious thing (Philippians 1:6). This is what I am experiencing, and what I will continue to experience for as long as I live. Bitter yet sweet. His Word says: For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11). The peaceful fruit of righteousness through His discipline. Another beautiful expression of His wondrous love.
But back to love…So God showed me that my sin was in the way that I chose to express my love to others in certain areas of my life, and He showed me that this was holding me back from growing in Christ and allowing His pure and perfect love to shine through me. A good majority of the time, my love came from a broken place. Go figure. How is that even possible, Lord? Especially right now, at this time in my life? He showed me that my idea of love was slowly and gradually beginning to look more like me and less like Him. He showed me certain behaviors and undertones of “love” that had been embedded in me before Christ came into my life and saved me by His grace…the prideful, insecure, legalistic, self-righteous behaviors. But how did I get to this place? (I’ll answer this question later.) Instead of using my love as an occasion to build and edify, I was using it as an occasion to the flesh. I was using it for self-gratifying, self-glorifying purposes. I was using it for selfish gain and not for the glory of the Lord. I was taking the scripture “Speak the truth in love” and using it as justification to say anything I wanted, however I wanted as long as I could back it up with scripture – Holy-Spirit led or not, harsh or not, whether it cut straight to the heart or not.
Now wait…the Bible does say that His Word is powerful, quick, and sharper than any two-edged sword….(Hebrews 4:12). Yes, this is true. But I think in some cases, I was taking it upon myself to try to do the Holy Spirit’s job instead of allowing Him to do work that only He could do. It hurt me to see this. And if I can be honest, it shook my world for a good week or two. And this is what it required. God knew that it would take a drastic revelation from Him and a drastic situation for me to fall on my feet, repent, and seek to change…immediately. His Word helped me hearken to His call even quicker. An example comes from James 3:13-18 (and I add some of my initial thoughts in parentheses):
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (Lie not against the truth? But I thought I was speaking the truth…in love? Conviction.) This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish (Ouch! Oh my Lord, what have I done?) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (I have created confusion. Please forgive me, Father.) But the wisdom that is above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. Sown in peace.
This is just one example of what He showed me. I was heavily burdened and repented for my sins and transgressions. His Spirit also led me to read an entire book in one day that completely wrecked me on so many levels. There were several things that occurred during that period where there was absolutely no way that I could deny what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me. And it is imperative to stay near to God and cling to His grace at all times so that you turn to Him and not away from Him as He shows you these things. He revealed that there was still bitterness and resentment in my heart from past trauma and hurts. I love Christ with everything in me, but because of unresolved heart issues that I never fully surrendered to Him, it stunted my spiritual growth for a time. If Christ has set me free, then I needed to disentangle myself with the yoke of bondage. I needed to crucify the flesh, even amidst several personal struggles that others may not have to deal with.
Galatians 5:13 also clearly tells us that as children of God we have been called unto liberty; and we are not to use our liberty (freedom) as an occasion to the flesh, but to serve one another by love. It also tells us in Galatians 5:15 what happens when we choose the other route. I was using my “love” as an occasion to the flesh. I was using it to feed my ego. I was using it to feed my selfish desires. I was using it as an escape for pain instead of going to the ultimate Healer. I was using it to feel better about myself. And it started to consume me and eat away at my righteousness in Christ. I was using it as a way to remain on the “pedestal” that I had created for myself to make everyone else feel bad about what they were or were not doing – because their walk didn’t look like my walk with Christ.
But each person’s walk is different with Christ. Who am I to judge?
But we thank the Lord for grace.
God has a way of making all things work together for our good when we are in Him (Romans 8:28-29). He has a way of being our strength when we are weak, being our comforter when we need it most, and showing us our faults on time and at the right time. Warning always comes before destruction. And trust me, the warning is oftentimes glaring – and frightening. But I was able to see past the fear so that He could fill my heart with gratefulness and gladness.
Thankfully, I am not alone. There are believers who have gone through similar things. Many of us are still learning how to love as Christ loves…many of us are still learning how to love unconditionally, because sometimes, it is difficult! However, it is what we have been commissioned to do. Francis Chan even says something similar in his book Crazy Love…he says that we desperately need God to be able to love as He loves. It isn’t something that we can do on our own. It takes tapping into the ultimate source of love: God. For again: God is love. So if you have ever gone through something similar, don’t fret. He loves you with an everlasting love. And He wants to see you better. He wants to see you whole. He wants to see you committed to loving each day as Christ loves. He doesn’t expect you to be perfect at this love thing – there is only One who is perfect.
I titled this post Living Crazy Love because I desperately seek to live out my love in a crazy, radical way, but I want to learn how to balance the boldness He has given me with humility. I want to learn how to balance truth and love (Ephesians 4:15). I want a crazy love that resembles the love that my Father has shown me. A love without conditions. A love that is always gracious and merciful because I understand how much grace and mercy I need and do not deserve. A love that pursues me relentlessly and always draws me back to Him when I become inundated with the realities of life. A love that is selfless. I want to learn how to balance this boldness, love, and zeal for God with meekness of wisdom. I pray you do too.
I’ve had a difficult time balancing radical and kind love in the past, because I wanted people to see Jesus and hear the Gospel so much at times that I forgot that He is most seen through love – not sound doctrine, not theological precision, not intellect, not wit, not pride, not keeping the law, not perfection, not knowledge and wisdom…but love. Don’t misunderstand me: All of these other things are wonderful in and of themselves, and they are certainly important, but…Love fulfills the law.
I love you all dearly. And as my Father has forgiven me, I ask for your forgiveness in any ways that I may have erred in the past. May we all commit to showing the love of Christ in everything that we do for the rest of our lives. May we commit daily to the work of sanctification, and never harden our hearts to what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in us. And may we always remember: We love Him because He first loved us. And that is certainly something to rejoice about. We are nothing without love. And we are going to need Him in order to love like He does. Again…it isn’t always easy, but it is possible.
Vow to love as Christ loves with every fiber of your being. Let Him fill you up. He will…and I can attest to that.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Thank you for following my blog! Remember: Progress, not perfection. We’ll never be perfect until Jesus returns, but we strive for it! If I can ever be of assistance to you along your spiritual journey, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Blessings!