What is Love Anyway (3/5)?
Who We are and How We Love
Perhaps one of the most mysterious things about Jesus is that He never forces anyone to do anything. As God in flesh, He is the embodiment of the one way love of God. He never insisted on His own way, yet loved without reserve. He loved even unto His own death -- loving those who falsely accused Him, beat Him, and ultimately put Him to a gruesome death on the cross.
How did He do that? How could He love without insisting on His own way? I have a theory about this. I think as fully God and fully human, Jesus loved this way because He knew who He was/is and He believed it.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16-17)
Before Jesus healed a sick person. Before Jesus dined with the wrong crowd or taught anyone. Before He performed any miraculously loving act that could have earned Him favor with the Father, the Father announced His favor over Jesus.
Jesus knows His identity. He is loved. He is loved with the never-stopping love of God. He has all the acceptance He needs in the Father. Jesus did not need to seek validation, approval, and acceptance from others because He had already received it from the Father. That kind of love freed Him to love without insisting His own way, because in this love, He lacked nothing.
For us, we are loved by the Father in a similar fashion. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the demonstration of God’s one way love for us, seeking to reconcile us to Him, and freeing us to love like He does.
If we can dare to risk our egos and love without regard to outcome, I think we'll gain the opportunity to experience love as not only a kind thing we do, but as a Person. As God Himself, who loves us into the freedom and maturity that is able to show Christ-like love, however imperfectly.
One of the greatest gifts we can experience in life is to come to the end of ourselves. Disappointments, rejections, doubts, and fears caused when our love is not reciprocated can be great gifts to us.
Maybe in that pain we can begin to see that we are hurting because we were loving with conditions.
Maybe we can consider that we’ve been attempting to love in order to receive love.
Maybe we can put to death our need for insisting on our own way when we accept the reality that in and through Jesus, we have all the love we need.
Maybe if we turn our gaze from how we are not being loved well to how God in Christ has loved us perfectly, we will find a new identity. One as God’s beloved children. Sons and daughters loved and accepted already in Jesus. No longer needing to earn acceptance from others by loving in a way that earns our approval, but instead believing in our approval and loving because of who we are in Jesus.
That kind of identity frees us to love, not transactionally, but transformationally!