Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Authentic Love...

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8 ESV

Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
John 4:13-14 ESV

Love. We are beggars, borrowers, barters, martyrs and thieves for it. The more valuable for its scarcity, it is imitated, simulated and counterfeited for the masses. We gorge ourselves on substitutes, emptier in the end than at the beginning. Like the Emperor and his new clothes, we flaunt our parodies in the streets with wondrous pomp and ceremony, unaware that we are parading only our own nakedness and need. And once our counterfeits have run their course and lost their luster, we realize they were never anything more than lies, plastic and paper doll clothing. Yet in our addiction, the emptiness screams its lust to feed again.

The great sadness is that we are beggars by choice, not by necessity. In the fourth chapter of the book of John, Jesus encounters the woman at the well. He asks her for a drink of water. Surprised by his forwardness as a Jewish man to a Samaritan woman, she dodges the question. Jesus responds, “If you had known who you were talking to, you would have asked me, and I would have given you living water.” You know, the kind of water that makes a person never thirst again. Jesus goes on to say that the water he gives will become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The water Jesus offered was the love of God. Real love. Consuming love. And it scares us to death. That kind of love doesn’t just meet your need, it transforms you. It wells up inside you until it overflows, spilling awkwardly all over the floor and into other people’s shoes. He didn’t say it can or might or should, but that it just does.

Give us our lust. Our romantic affectation. Our self-confidence. Our politeness and disinterested affection. Give us even the religious devotion and discipline to invoke and maintain God’s love and acceptance in Christ by our good behavior. But keep your scandalous, scary, uncontrollable, unmanageable, unreasonable and invasive love that says “to hell with your respectable self-image and practical life management skills.” No self-respecting person behaves that way!

Exactly. That is the message of the cross. Love without respect for self. That is what we’re all dying for, and what he has given freely to all who will receive. True love.

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