Love, as God defines it, is epitomized by the cross. This love doesn’t merely go the extra mile, it traverses the distance from glorious Heaven to stinky stable. It’s bloody—offering life to the recipient at the expense of the giver. It’s extended with no guarantee that it will be reciprocated...or for that matter, received. God-love hurts in order to identify with the hurting. It meets the demands of justice so that the undeserving experience freedom. It sacrifices the flesh for the greater good of the spirit. This is the kind of love God gives to us and the kind of love he expects us to have for one another…both saint and sinner.
To love God demands that we love others. Isn’t that disgusting sometimes? We may find it easy to love God, but loving others feels like it should have a tidy list of qualifiers. Something to dangle like a plumb line before strangers whose wrongs seem grotesque. Stipulations for those who breathe the same air as we do. It’s hard to be sacrificial, to offer that go-the-distance, give-it-If-it-kills-me kind of love. Especially when people we're supposed to love have blazing imperfections we think need correcting. Especially when we've been on the receiving end of hurt or disappointment. Especially when our judgement feels justified. Human love can become very conditional if we aren’t careful.
But, when God saw the rules that we had broken, the numerous reasons that we were undeserving of his love. When he beheld our sins that demanded punishment, he didn’t toss us to the curb with the trash. He didn’t lift his chin in the air and bypass us. He gave—exponentially. He humbled his flesh to the pain of love and surrendered vindication to the grip of mercy. Jesus relinquished his right to judge, submitting flesh to Spirit. Love demands we release our hold on injustice. It requires that we reach higher than those without the cross can reach. It says keep loving when it hurts...and use actions to show how much. Just as Jesus bestowed grace upon those undeserving, we, too, extend mercy when we love.
We can do this impossible, un-lovely task of loving by letting God love through us. When he, who has been loving mankind eternally, spills out of us onto others, our love becomes complete. Likewise, his love is complete when, through our hands, our feet, our hearts, and our words, others see a glimpse of Heaven on earth. God has loved through skin and sinew before. Through Jesus, sacrificial flesh, he showed his incredible love for frail humanity, and through the sacrificial flesh of his present-day body, the frail humanity of the Church, he continues to demonstrate his love for the world. As his love flows in us, we are saved, healed, and helped. As his love flows through us, the world is touched by God. The combination is an embrace for humanity, a caress for our souls, and a hug sent straight to the heart of God.
Tip/Tidbit: Let God love you completely; then, let him love others through you. This is the way to love God best.