I've argued with myself over this fact. The truth is, I thought I did love just fine. Yet, over the Easter season, as I dove into the prayer of examen, this one word kept creeping up. Fact is, real love, for me, is like trying to take a running jump across the Grand Canyon. Impossible. The Lord has his ways of driving his point home. Practically every passage of Scripture I land on has to do with loving others. Every podcast I listen to...yes, love is the theme. Then I went away for a weekend retreat, and the focus of the retreat centered around a book I mentioned last week (on love, of course). It's like everything has collided in synchronization simply to show me this need to learn Jesus-like-love.
The exclamation mark came this week, as I continued on in my own study of 1 Peter 1. Last week, the Lord so sweetly reminded me of His love for my sake, in spite of the fact that I am just one annoying little grain of sand (which by the way, is the stuff of what pearls are made). God shows me His So-Great-Love through Jesus. I am amazed by it! Humbled. Truly brought to tears over it. However, lest it draw me into self-centeredness (which is such a temptation), like all things on my spiritual journey, the Lord has led me through that truth to drive home the more important (and, he, now, uses his Apostle, Peter):
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable.
1 Peter 1:22-23(a)
There it is: sincerely love, fervently love. Here's how I know I don't understand a Jesus-Kind-of-Love. Digging deep, I uncover what a Jesus-Kind-of-Love really looks like in a Jesus-Follower:
Doesn't hold grudges.
Responds rightly, not out of emotional impulse.
Sacrificially commits (in spite of, anyway)
Stubbornly persists and pursues.
Always focuses on the positive.
Resets itself quickly (Ok, I have to spend a minute here. This is what I do oh.so.poorly. Whenever conflict arises, and it does, a Jesus-Follower overlooks offenses. It isn't centered on having to be right. True Jesus-Kind-of-Love doesn't look for fairness. In fact, it is totally an unbalanced love; because a True Jesus-Kind-of-Love always attempts to outdo The Other. It isn't moody, touchy, grumpy, or fragile-spirited. It never pulls away, or pushes away, but leans-in to The Other at all times. True Jesus-Kind-of-Love never allows an ugly space to grow... Oh, Lord, HELP!)
See, just as I said, Grand-Canyon-Impossible! EXCEPT for Jesus. Look at what follows in Peter's admonition to love: for you have been born again! Born again (in some circles that has become a taboo phrase, but it's the phrase Peter uses) to new life. Born again, because there has been a death to self, and a surrender to the Spirit of God, which produces a new heart in us. A new heart that I learn to grow into... The good news is that it's impossible for me, but not for Jesus-in-me. I tend to forget that to grow into that new heart of flesh, it's a continual cycle of surrender, death to self, embracing my new identity, and living loved. Over and over...until one day, with practicing righteousness and loved-ness, I live rightly. I live loved. I live "hesed" (the Hebrew word for a Jesus-Kind-of-Love). Oh, Lord, please keep making me like you! If we all lived that way...well, it would be heaven!