As if I'd never heard it before, over a year ago the notion of loving well only beginning to show up when we need people less, began to make sense. Its the only way we can even consider loving someone who doesn't like us or who has actively wronged us and even worse, who is not even sorry! As long as my love toward them is in word only, holds back affection or engagement until apology is received or proper respect is shown to me, my love is indeed conditional. As long I need that person's approval, or respect, or praise, or even friendship, then my love for that person is as much in an attempt to achieve those things as it is seeking out his or her best.
But what if my relationship with my children, my husband, my parents or in-laws, friends, etc. shifts to being about seeing His Kingdom come in their hearts more than my kingdom come in their hearts? For example, Am I more eager to see God's love overwhelm the heart of the one before me or to see a love for me overwhelm the heart of the one before me? Mostly, I want them to be overwhelmed with love for me and a desire to please me and bask in my wisdom and marvelousness.
But what if instead of all of our interactions being about how they serve my need to be loved, I started asking God how He wants His kingdom to come in our relationship? in his/her heart? in mine? (because nobody in the room is a bystander of God's redemptive work!) How is God using our relationship to bring His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Only then do all those verses about love being patient, kind, not self-seeking, make sense! His kingdom coming doesn't happen in one conversation, in one activity, in one afternoon or even in one decade. Its slow but steady and certain. I start trusting in His work in my heart and my loved one's heart rather than visible evidence of it. I stop taking everything so personally as if life were a play all about me, with all the people around me simply serving as supporting characters. (Thank you Donald Miller.) Instead, I get to understand my appropriate role as a character in God's far more interesting story about His redemptive work and victorious glory.
This is how He could love me while I was still a sinner, spitting on Him and mocking Him, full of cynicism and arrogant superiority and self-sufficiency. His love wasn't because I was lovely or had something that He needed to complete Him. His love wasn't in response to my conscious need of Him, it was in purest form a reflection of His pefect love, goodness, holiness and purpose to redeem a people who were not His people and call the philanderers His beloved bride!
Oh that my love for others would begin to be shaped more by a desire for His Kingdom to come than mine!
14 hours ago