Tina Turner asked that question a few years ago in her hit single, but the answer in relation to our Christian faith is completely opposite. For us, love is everything!
I’ve actually been struggling with this concept for quite a while. This agape love described here. Or the definition below:
“Unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take or be a taker. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.”
For years, it was hard for me to REALLY understand and believe with my HEART how much God loves me. It still is hard for me to completely grasp it. I’ve read it in His Word. I’ve heard it in sermons. I know it in my head. God has shown me in so many ways, believe me, that it’s starting to sink in BUT…..when I read John’s quiet but confident statement when he’s referring to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” I envy that certainty, that total assurance, that firm acceptance and knowledge that Jesus loved him. Somehow along the way, thinking that I needed to be “loveable” to be loved by Him was ingrained in me. I realize that’s not true….but that’s always been my struggle. Because I certainly don’t feel loveable.
Then there’s that second commandment from Christ:
Mark 12:31 (NIV) “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love your neighbor as yourself……that’s also been a struggle for me. I WANT to love others. I feel horrible when I don’t. I try…..I want to please the LORD. I want to be selfless, to think of others, to take care of them sacrificially, to BE LOVE like a Christ-follower should.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I do ministry. I take care of others, etc. It’s just that I don’t have that passion or that drive to “be Jesus’ hands and feet” or whatever phrases are sung about. I don’t always feel loving. Honestly, I feel quite selfish sometimes. (and yes, I know that “love is not a feeling, it’s a verb, an action word” but still…..) I’m not always eager to do those things. I’m tired, weary, there’s not enough hours in the day, they’ve hurt me, they’re annoying, they’re not someone I’d be friends with, etc. I just don’t feel sacrificially inclined very often. And that makes me sad, makes me feel like a “bad Christian,” like I’m not measuring up, etc. which makes me feel…..unloveable to God.
I’ve mentioned to fellow believers that I feel selfish…and I get weird looks. I don’t think they understand. Am I the only one who feels this way? And that makes me feel even worse about it…
During my “middle of the night awake-time” a few nights ago, I turned on the TV to watch Joyce Meyer. It’s sad, but true, that I know from experience what time her program comes on in the middle of the night (3:30 a.m. on WGN for me), and LOVE was her topic.
She said something that got my attention about loving your neighbor as yourself. Actually about loving yourself. That we need to love/accept ourselves because God loves us. That we can’t GIVE love to others unless we ACCEPT love from God first.
That made me think. It’s hard for me to ACCEPT love from God because I feel unloveable. And hard to GIVE love to others if I’m not accepting His Love because it’s not my human nature to love others outside my family unconditionally. I sacrifice for my family and would die for them. But others? That’s a challenge. It’s hard for me to feel (sorry, but I’m a “feeler”) that kind of love for others.
This sounds like part of the journey…the faith walk. To continue to grow in God’s Love, to continually accept His Love because it has nothing to do with my “loveability” or lack of, to ignore the lies from the enemy that tell me I’m not loveable because of what I do or don’t do, to continually surrender, to die to myself & my selfish human desires, and just DO IT, as the old Nike commercials used to say. It’s making the choice, whether it’s being less selfish with my time and energy or giving up my “right” to be right. And having faith that God will cover it with His Love that never fails. That He will grow His Love IN me…
There’s a song from Tenth Avenue North that speaks of this choice:
I recently read a phrase that really resonated with me: “This journey into the inner life is a process held in the tension of BEING and BECOMING.”
The being has to do with what I already am IN CHRIST. I am love because HE IS LOVE. The becoming has to do with living that out.
Learning to love my neighbor as myself.