When I first started this series, I knew that this one would cause people’s eyes to fall out a bit because of the way our society has defined love, yet this point has been repeated to me more than any other from this series as having meaning and helping people in their relationships. Well….here goes.
Real Love is always one-sided.
OK. Hold your horses! Don’t blow a gasket! Let’s walk through this. The Bible says that even pagans can love those who love them. Agape is about loving those who don’t love you in return. This leaves us with a one-sided love. We don’t like this because we naturally have a phileo-type of mindset that says if you don’t love me, then why should you expect me to love you in return.
Just think about it. When someone is rude to you, is it natural to be polite in return. For a little while my wife was working at a call center and a gentlemen called in to get information about an account. However, he could not answer the questions to verify his identity so she was not able to give him the information. Of course, this was a policy of the company to protect against identity theft. Well, the man did not accept it and said to her, “Well, you are just not the sharpest pencil in the box.” WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO MY WIFE!?! I’LL COME OVER THERE AN OPEN UP A CAN OF WHOOP YO BUTT IF I HAVE TO! Well, that is how I felt when she told me about it. Of course, I wasn’t there. “What did you do?” I asked her. “I followed the protocol which of course was to remain polite,” she said.
When she first started working there, she went through a great deal of training to be able to handle a call like this. In the corporate world, they understand that it is not a natural thing to respond to rudeness with kindness. I would imagine that most corporate call centers first have to get their employees to understand that responding to rudeness with rudeness is not ok. This goes against every fiber in our being as people. We want people to do the right thing and when they don’t, we feel justified and right to respond in a way that is well….less than loving. But agape responds with kindness and patience no matter how someone may treat us.
Now, I know where your mind is going. You are thinking that we are just supposed to let people walk all over us. No, no, no…that is not at all what I am saying. In fact, the Scripture says we are not to cast our pearls before swine. In other words, we are not supposed to keep giving the best part of ourselves to someone who is just going to trample on us over and over again. We can stand up for ourselves, but do it with kindness, patience with a desire to bless the other person. This is agape.
The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. This may sugarcoat it a bit. God compares sin to adultery. The prophet Hosea was commanded by God to keep and love an adulterous wife. This was to help the people understand how God feels when we sin. He feels like a husband cheated on. How many times do we sin? Each time, it is as if we just had an affair and cheated on our Heavenly Husband and it hurts Him. So while we were laying naked, having relations with another lover (sin), Jesus gave His life for us. Now, I don’t know what you think about that, but it is a love that is one-sided.
Now, before you stop reading writing me off as some loon, let me remind you that it was this one-sided love that transformed you and I. It is an understanding of the depth of God’s love for us that changes us. The depth of God’s love is more visible in the face of our adulterous affairs with sin. And when we are able to realize just how much He loves us at our worst, then we begin to realize just how deep is the love of God. It is a strange thing to be loved when we are hating; to be loved when we are betraying, to be loved when we are in rebellion. This love is powerful. It draws the sinner back to His Creator. We are not forced back to the Lord, we are loved back. And this same power is released by God through us into the hearts of others when we love them in the same way. It forces them to be softened or in order to resist it, they must harden their hearts to a new level. When we harden our hearts, destruction is sure to come soon. God’s hope is the combination of this agape love given to us without measure even at our worst and the consequences of hardening our hearts will bring every soul back to Him and His saving grace.
Loving as God loves with this Real Love is the best hope we have for the sweetest relationships with those we love and care for. Loving them with patience, kindness, honor, with a desire to bless them though they may have just cursed us melts hearts most of the time.
But like the corporations, we must develop self-discipline to not only respond in word as we should, but to have the right attitude in our heart as we respond correctly. Word and heart work together. If the words are right, but the heart is wrong, nothing is hidden from our Lord. If the heart is right, the words will follow for our words come from an overflow of the heart. Working at a call center, we might be able to discipline ourselves to say the right thing, but when it is someone we love who is hurting us, the pain creates a huge temptation and to respond in Real Love in both word and attitude, our hearts must be transformed by the love of God first.
To love with Real love, we must first be transformed by the Real Love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NIV)
Lord, first, I am overwhelmed at a love that would run steady in the face of my multiple affairs with sin. I am blown away and I am so thankful to be loved as You love me. This love is what I crave and it fills my heart with joy. Help me to receive it more and more each day that I may love as You love. And I know as You flow through me with agape, Your power will become evident in my relationships. -Amen
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