DayBreaks for 10/23/14 – Love That Overcomes the World
Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV) – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Love is a word that is bandied about and used cheaply in our culture today. Many confuse love for a warm, fuzzy feeling. Others confuse it for physical attraction. There are at least three different words used in the Bible for “love”, each having a very specific and very different meaning. But I like what Frederick Buechner had to say about four different demonstrations of love:
“The love for equals is a human thing — of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
“The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing–the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
“The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing–to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.
“And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.” – Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
I have read before about prisoners who become infatuated with their captors. But I don’t know if I’ve heard of it between the one who is tortured and those doing the torturing. But that’s how Buechner frames God’s strange and amazing love for us: we are the torturers through our spurning His love each time we do hurting things to one another or reject Him. He is the tortured. And yet, it is the Tortured who has love. And if we love Him in return, it is only because He first loved us and revealed the extent of His love to us through Jesus hanging with nails in his hands and feet.
I find it relatively easy to love my friends and relatives and certainly my family. I find it relatively easy to love the less fortunate. It is more difficult to love the more fortunate rather than to envy and begrudge them.
But the love for the enemy? That one has pretty much escaped my grasp. Maybe that’s why Jesus had to command us to have this kind of love. But how do you love someone just because you’re commanded to do so? You can’t. It takes a supernatural work of God in the heart to enable a person to love their enemies…again, only made possible because we’ve seen it modeled for us in the love God has for you and me!
PRAYER: Jesus, I have a hard time truly loving those who I envy for their apparent life of ease and comfort, free from worries about money and all it can buy! But I struggle much more to love my enemies. Teach me how to do that, please! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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