To love another is probably the riskiest thing we will ever do in our lives. And I am not talking about romantic love as portrayed in the movies. I am talking about honest-to-goodness, self-sacrificial love that requires the gift of self and the dying to self for the good of another. The kind of love that Jesus has for us. The kind of love that compelled Him to be obedient to His Father. The kind of love that caused Him to endure all of His suffering and stay on the cross when He could have put a stop to it at any time.
So many people are afraid to take this risk of love. They would rather retreat into silence or loneliness than risk the pain that is the constant companion of agape love. Some part of us understands that if we love like Jesus loves, then somewhere along the line we will be hanging on some kind of cross. Others avoid love at all costs, even though we need it to survive. They may have friends and acquaintances—even families: spouses, children, parents. But they stay away from this authentic love and settle instead for substitutes that may feel good but have no depth and no security. They keep everything light and funny and awkward, but never real or honest.
But will this satisfy our hearts? What happens when we avoid living in this kind of love? The famous Christian author and story-teller, C.S. Lewis explained it well in his book The Four Loves when he said
So love is going to hurt but the alternative is Hell. To love someone with an honest, real, self-donating love is to risk everything. And so many of us have experienced rejection, persecution, isolation, taunting, ridicule, and suffering because of a choice to love someone as Jesus loves us. Is it worth it? We are all called as people of faith to follow Jesus and try to imitate Him in all we think, say and do. Most of the time in our culture today, laying down one’s life for a friend will not involve physically dying, but the suffering endured at times for this kind of love can make us pray for death. But the alternative is to not live at all. Is this what we really want? To be free from the risk of love by becoming numb to everything and everyone?
I think we all desire to be great! And what is greater than laying down your life for others like Jesus? Nothing feels more alive and nothing helps us grow more dependent on His love for us than to live this way. And ultimately, in the end, it is the only way to bring others to Him.
Dear Jesus, I want to love as You love. I am willing to risk everything for the sake of love. Please give me the grace to keep loving, especially when it is hard. Amen.