Love puts us in our place

Published 3:37 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

By Nathan Decker

True love develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.”

– Ricardo Montalban, Mexican Actor

There is a moment in a relationship when you know that it has gone from puppy love to serious love. When he tells you that you have something in your teeth, or when she tells you that you need to blow your nose. When she tells you that you are not Tom Selleck or Sam Elliot no matter how good you think your mustache is. When he answers honestly about how you look in an outfit because it is not as slimming as you think it is. Love is not just butterflies and happy moments. Love lifts us up where we belong as well as puts us in our place.

Love doesn’t ignore reality. Angie and her husband were going through a rough time. Her husband admitted to her he had been having an affair. The news threw her life into a tailspin. She began trying to do anything new to spice up their love life. One of the ways she did this was by changing her hair color. I don’t think she realized she was changing it as often as she was. One Sunday, little Cody came up to her. Cody was 4 years old, and he had a 4-year-old’s vision of the world, where you can honestly say anything because you haven’t learned how to be tactful.

“What color is your hair going to be next week?” he innocently asked. Angie broke down in tears. She knelt beside Cody and said, “I don’t know, but you know what … you’ve made me realize it doesn’t matter. He isn’t going to love me no matter what my hair color is.”

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to children. Children see the world as real. Children ask questions. Children point out inconsistency. When we don’t see the world as it is, we can’t see the world as it can be. Love sees the world as it is and as it could be. No matter how bleak. No matter how painful. Love is honest. Love sees the world and shows us the Kingdom vision.

When we sing “Jesus loves me,” we affirm not only that Christ cares for us as people, but we are also saying Jesus loves us enough to encourage us to move from bad to good or good to better. We, as the church, have long tolerated hypocrisy and inconsistent faith. When we judge outsiders while protecting insiders, people notice. When members get special treatment, the unchurched leave knowing we don’t really care about people, just some people. When the church becomes more interested with propping up the past rather than boldly venturing into the future — we are no longer the church. Like children, the church calls a spade a spade in love. Like Jesus, the church strives for a consistent message of love.

Church, Christ offers us a choice. Are we going to give love a bad name? When people enter to worship, will they be going to chapel of love? When the world asks, “What’s love got to do with it?” how will we answer? My hope, my prayer, is that we will answer that we are “crazy in love” and “all you need is love.” After all, love is the message Jesus gave us to share. It’s what Jesus would do.

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”

– Romans 8:38-39