On this Valentine’s Day 2015, I am meditating on the love of Jesus. The love of Jesus is a holy love, a love of astounding grace, a love that intimately knows all our sins, all our failures, all our darkness.
Two days ago, I read an article about Christians and Valentine’s Day. “No, Jesus isn’t my boy friend,” Juliet Vedral blogs in the Sojourner. She is speaking of the boyfriend Jesus, a popular saying in many of today’s “seeker sensitive” and Charismatic churches. I agree with her.
The love of Jesus is not a boyfriend love. The love of Jesus is a perfect and dangerous love.
A Perfect Love
Jesus gave up everything in his love for us. We must give up everything in our own pursuit of holiness. We must learn to love God and others. Jesus told religious leaders that Love is the greatest law. Loving God is primary, but loving your neighbor as yourself is also required to fulfill God’s whole law.
Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus preached to the crowds that anyone can love their friend, but God calls us to love our enemies. We must learn reckless love. Indiscriminate love. We must learn to love those who don’t deserve love. Love them into the kingdom. Perfect love.
43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
A Dangerous Love
Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who practiced radical love. He bound up the wounds of the Jew who was bloody, beaten, and left to die on the roadside. This was a dangerous love on a dangerous road filled with violent thieves and hateful religious disputes. The Samaritans and Jews warred over doctrine and ideas of God, much like Muslims and Christians today.
The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of Jesus’ love for us. While we lay bleeding on the road, beat up by the world’s systems, not looking for God’s kingdom, dying in pride and foolishness as we built our little kingdom of wealth on earth, Jesus found us. He cleaned up our wounds, paid for our care, and took a chance on us.
He knew the danger that once we healed from our sins, once that precious seed was planted in our soil, the cares and pleasures of this world could lure us away once again.
A Dangerous Cross
In his love for us, Jesus faced the ultimate danger. In his love for us, Jesus died on a cross. He died an excruciating death as a criminal to a world who could not understand his love.
Jesus loved the poor, the orphan, the widow, the misunderstood, the prostitute, the sinner. While I was still His enemy, Jesus loved me. Jesus died for me. Jesus showed me the radical, holy, dangerous love of God.
What is my response to this love? What is your response? We must follow Jesus in the dangerous love of the cross.
Picking up my cross to follow Jesus has been a dangerous love and a wild road. I have given all my possessions to the poor whom Jesus brought my way. I have experienced homelessness and hunger. I have been rejected by the church but accepted by my gay brothers in Christ, by my poor single mom sisters in Christ. I have seen hatred by pastors, men and women who started a good road, but whose lamps have gone dark as they disparage the poor and hurting. I have seen love by prisoners, the light and acceptance of Jesus shining in their hurt eyes.
Holy love is a dangerous love. What kind of love will you embrace today on Valentine’s Day, the holiday of love? Find Jesus, find love, find life.