“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:9-13
Have you ever fallen in love with someone only to realize they don’t love you back in that way?
It’s happened to me more than once, and it hurts. If you’ve experienced this yourself than you probably know the pain I’m talking about. The last time this happened to me was one of the hardest and most painful experiences yet.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy that pain. I hate it and will do what I can to avoid it or make it better.
I have a couple different ways of escaping this pain. One way is to ignore this particular person so that I don’t have to feel the pain every time we cross paths. Another method is to be mean to that person, so that maybe I can convince myself I don’t really like him — or so that he will be mean back to me and I will stop liking him after that.
Essentially what I am doing in either case is building a hard, impenetrable wall around my heart so that nothing can hurt or destroy it.
I am tired of being hurt and broken, so instead I will just stop loving. That is what I do.
I stop loving because love hurts.
But in the midst of all this pain and hurt, God used my brother to point me to the above passage along with other passages that convicted me of my lack of love.
Here are five things that I learned from these verses that I want to share with you.
1. Jesus loves me.
That Jesus loves me is no small matter. I – even when a rebel towards Christ, hating and despising him, rejecting him – am loved by Christ Jesus. The greatest love is shown in laying down his life for a friend and this act is the greatest love because that is what Christ did for us.
He laid down his life for me even when I was hating and despising him. Furthermore, his love for me is as great as his Father’s love for himself and that love is a love beyond what anyone can imagine.
If Christ loves me this much, should I not be willing to love others with a Christ like love no matter how much it hurts?
2. I am commanded to love.
I am commanded to love like Christ. It’s as simple as that. I do not have options. I cannot pick and choose who I love. I am not told to love only when it’s easy or when the person is lovable.
I am commanded to love others like Christ, and that means all people at all times.
3. I cannot be abiding in God if I have not love.
To have no love is to separate myself from Christ’s love, and that is the worst place to be. To be separated from Christ’s love is to be damned. I cannot be abiding in God’s love if I am not keeping his commandment to love others.
4. My joy can only be full when I abide in God’s love.
There is joy that comes in abiding in Christ and keeping his commands. God delights in giving his children joy, but that joy is only found in abiding in him. Yet I cannot have this joy if I am not loving like Christ loves.
Joy is found in abiding in Christ’s love and loving others with that love that he fills us with.
5. Love hurts, but is worth the pain.
God never promised that love would be pain free. In fact, true love is full of pain.
Jesus went through more pain than we can imagine to ransom his children who were living in rebellion towards him. Christ demonstrates what love looks like in his act of love toward us. I too, must experience pain if I am to truly love others. Love hurts, but love is worth the cost.
Love is a Learning Process
I still stumble and struggle over loving others well. I still hate the pain. But I am learning. Learning to love and allow myself to be hurt in the process.
Because Jesus loves me and he has shown me how to love others. And because there is no greater joy than to abide in his love for me.
When I am tempted to throw up that wall of protection around my heart, I want to remember what Christ has done for me and allow his love to fill me and give me strength to love others with a soft and tender heart, no matter the pain it entails, even though it may mean rejection time and time (and time) again.
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