Day 2: We’re Compelled to Love God’s Family – Because God Commands It

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Verse: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” –John 13:34 (NIV)
Theme: Love is an act of the will
[Read More] thoughts on Day 2 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

If yesterday’s devotion mirrored my thoughts on happiness, today’s reflected my subsequent point about love:

Love is a state of positive idealization
engaging emotions & intentions
in relentless pursuit of perceived good

As Rick said, love is not an emotion, but love creates emotions. I was particularly struck by his emphasis on the requirement we love our community: “we choose to love, not who to love” (emphasis mine). That is, we need to learn to love real people, even — especially — those who are difficult. I am reminded of the tongue-in-cheek political glossary from The Onion :

Politics, Conservative: A school of thought that values limited government authority over the welfare of actual flesh-and-blood people
Politics, Liberal: A school of thought that values the welfare of idealized, hypothetical people over actual flesh-and-blood people
Its shocking when we choose to value ideology over people, but in some ways worse when we choose to insist that people become different that they actually are before we will love them. Yet, I find myself doing it all the time.

I noticed recently that I have a certain “toolbox” of habits I use for dealing with people. When they work, everything is hunky-dory, and people are impressed by how loving I am. But sometimes, as happened recently on my other blog, my toolset breaks down, and I’m at a loss. If I’m self-aware enough, I then realize I have to choose:

a) I can choose to trust my tools, and condemn the other person as unlovable — i.e., exclude them from my community.

or

b) I can choose to trust God, and ask Him to help me love beyond my ability — i.e., choose to idealize them as worthy of being part of God’s community, and thus within my God-breathed power to love.

Prayer: God, help me choose love. Forgive me for my pride, and cruelty, that I would even think of cutting myself off from those You died to love. Grant me the faith that it is even possible to love real, warty, difficult, pig-headed, annoying people, i.e., people like me. Help me to experience your deep love, loving me even amidst the ugly wretchedness I rarely let myself (much less anyone else) see. And out of that experience, help me to love the people you bring across my path, just as they are — not as I want them to be. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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