Podcast Transcript. To listen to the audio version click HERE
Have you ever stopped to think about the inherent risks of choosing to love? I think a lot of us unintentionally confuse the world’s substitute “sentimentalism” with the real thing. But there is no risk in being sentimental. We can go to the movie, a wedding, or even a funeral and feel what we think is love for a short period of time and then walk out without altering our life in the slightest.
Sentimentalism is feeling without responsibility. It is loving vicariously through the actions or words of another – and of course it is a much safer choice over the danger of real love.
Maybe you have never through of love as dangerous – but let me assure you it is.
I can still remember it like it was yesterday. But it was a late November day in 2006 when I playfully talked my wife into buying a pregnancy test from the pharmacy. Somehow I just knew that she was pregnant. Sure enough, to both of our amazement the test came back positive.
Soon after I was running around the house and smiling like I had just won the lottery or something.
We were in love with a person we had yet to meet.
But that person had already changed our lives.
After we got the official news we began calling our family & friends, going to the baby stores, buying books on parenting and picking out names like all parents “to be” do.
No one told us the risk we were taking in choosing to love this unborn child. And if they had we probably would not have paid much attention. Love overpowered our fear. Love would not allow us to worry about what might happen. Love simply was. We loved – and we wanted to share our love with whoever would listen.
Some weeks later I was just working at the house, my wife had gone to the doctor for her regular check-up when I received a frantic call. They were preparing her for emergency surgery. Something had gone terribly wrong with the pregnancy and my wife’s life was at risk.
I ran to the car and flew down to the hospital and got there just in time to see her before they wheeled her back into surgery. After that all I could do was wait and pray.
“God please save my wife and child,” I prayed.
”Please God, I have dedicated my life to you! Save them both!”
It was love that compelled me to pray like I had never prayed before.
It was love that made it clear that nothing was more important to me in the world than than my wife and child.
The scriptures also tell us a story about the inherent risk in love. In fact it is the story of our beginning.
In the first chapter of the book of Genesis we are told that God not only created us, but he created us in his own image. In other words, we were created to reflect God the beauty of God in both form and character.
We were created by love.
We were created to love
But in order for love to be truly love there had to be a choice. For without choice love can not exist. And just as love would have no meaning to us if the person we loved had no choice but to love us, God created us with the freedom to choose to love just as he had chosen to love us.
Love requires freedom.
And so God planted a tree in the midst of the garden that promised to bring life which he called the Tree of Life and he also planted a tree in the midst of the garden that promised to bring death called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
For a while we were content in the life we had been given, in basking in the love of our creator and embracing the work of caring for our garden home. However what we hadn’t counted on was a tempter, an enemy who was more than willing to lie to us by telling us a counterfeit narrative of our origins.
And so one day we strayed too close to the tree and were surprised by what we heard. According to the serpent, what God had pronounced as death was actually the portal to life. What was dark was in fact light and what we had believed was light was the true darkness. In confusion we turned to our senses.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
Trusting our senses we believed the lie and chose death over life
And so, in that brief moment everything that God had planned for us came crashing down. The heart of God broke into a million pieces as he watched his children die right before his eyes. It was not his will for his children to die, but they had chosen it anyway.
So after I had been been pleading with God for what seemed like an eternity, the doctor politely came out to the waiting room to give me the news. My wife was alive, but my child was dead.
Never would I hear his cry or see his smile. Never would I be able to hold him tight, watch his first steps, hear him speak, or play catch with him.
I had not realized the risk I had taken in loving something so completely that I had never laid eyes on and now I was paying the price. Now I was in shock. Now I had to be strong for my wife while still feeling processing the anger of the injustice I had just encountered.
The question that kept haunting us was this: If God is love, If God is good then how could he have allowed this to happen to us?
Have you ever asked that question?
It is the question that always is asked when we don’t have answers for the tragedies in our own life or the ones we witness in the world around us.
Doesn’t God care?
Doesn’t he know I am in pain?
And if he loved me, If he really loved me, wouldn’t he do everything he could to take that pain away?
What we don’t often realize when we are asking that question is what we are actually asking for.
If our pain is rooted in love that was lost, love that was stolen, love that was betrayed, love that was taken advantage of then there are really only 2 ways God can help us.
He can take away our pain by taking away our freedom and the freedom of everyone else. The good thing would be no one would ever choose to hurt another person again. The bad news is that no would ever love again either.
Love requires freedom and involves risk. T to take away the risk of being hurt is to take away the very thing that makes us in the image of God and makes life worth living.
So if taking away our freedom is not an option God is only left with one other option.
He could choose to take responsibility for our pain and make himself available to comfort us through it.
God could take the root of our pain and bear it for us.
The scriptures tell us:
““For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)
You see even though we chose death for ourselves in the garden God over-ruled, not our choice but the immediate consequence for it. Instead of death falling upon us in that moment God decided to take the consequence of death upon himself.
God chose to risk everything, to come down to this earth, to live, to serve, to suffer, and ultimately to die just to give us a chance to change our mind to choose life over death.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8 NKJV)
Despite the pain he knew it would bring him to save us God still chose to do it anyway because that is what love does. Love could do nothing else but risk all to save the object of its affections.
Sometimes I was wonder what it would be like to have a 12 year old son. The boy I never met, never knew, but always loved.
There is always a temptation when we have been hurt by love to stop loving, to stop living, to let your heart go numb, but that is not the choice we made as a family. Love would not allow us to stop. No matter the pain of loss love kept pushing us onward, forward through loss after loss until one day our baby girl was born.
Now the gift of love had a name, had a face, had a smile, but it was still the same love.
Love never dies
I don’t know what you are going through in your life right now. But what I can say is that it is never too late to choose to love again.
Yes love requires freedom and involves risk, but there is nothing else in the world that can measure up to it.
You may consider yourself a spiritual person, but what is being spiritual without love. Everything is spiritual, but everything is not love. Only God is love
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:1–13 ESV)
Love wins because love risks everything.
One day soon every eye will see the hope of our love face to face in the clouds of glory. Even if we have experienced pain and failure along the way, if we don’t let the love in us burn out, we will experience the joy of eternal life with the one who gave himself for us.
Be ready for Jesus
Don’t settle for sentimentalism. Choose love.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24–25 ESV)