Recently our lead pastor and his wife introduced a new message series on the topic of relationships and the sacrificial kind of love that comes into play when we follow the precepts set before us on how to love. In a nutshell, we were designed to be together. We were designed to mirror in one another the kind of love that God has infinitely displayed for us. We were designed to love and to love well because that love will always point back to the one who is love – God.
We know all of this but let’s be honest– retaining and preserving relationships can be harder in real life than on paper or through the keyboard.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Do you have one of those kinds of friends? Someone who walks right next to you, holds your hand, holds your chin up, believes the best, hopes for you, lets you cry, lets you laugh, rejoices when you succeed, mourns with you when you fall, and speaks the truth in love because they love to much to let you hear anything less than the truth.
I have a few precious friends like that and for that I am so grateful. Some live near me and some far away but time and distance doesn’t separate the heart. These friends have been there for the good stuff and the not so great stuff. They have been there when I have been a good friend and when I have stunk at being a good friend. Those kinds of friends are rare and I am beyond baffled, lucky, blessed, and grateful that God has given me a handful of them.
Today I was pondering a friendship that I have had for almost 30 years. Her name is Lisa. She ia my BFF, no matter how juvenile it sounds to say BFF. We committed to nearly 30 years ago and have been such ever since, not because we always agreed, not because we did ‘friendship’ perfect, not because we were the same, but I believe because we were kindred spirits.
We met in 3rd grade – where piggy tails, barbie dolls, cooties, reading Little House on the Prairie series, hopscotch ruled. We were exact opposites and yet somehow so very much the same. I had dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. she had beautiful blue eyes, blonde as blonde could be hair and creamy white skin with the cutest little freckles on her nose. She played piano – I sang. She was a bit quiet and reserved and I was loud and laughed like a hyena. She thought before she made decisions – I was impulsive. She picked guys to date that were at least of her faith, I picked guys that would resemble Satan. We were quite different and yet so much alike. We both loved music, gymnastics and cheer leading. We both loved to dream. We were both old souls, we both desperately wanted to be accepted and accept each other we did. We went through all the ‘going through’ of life together. Some of the ‘going through’ was in person but some was from across the miles. No matter the struggle or the joy, we have always done the ‘going through’ of life together because our hearts were knitted and still are to this day.
The thing that struck me after the message from this weekend was a portion where Julie, our lead Pastors wife, said, “some debts cannot be repaid and that is the way it’s suppose to be.” She was recounting on the goodness of people whom had come into her trial and given her love, shown love and displayed a giving that was beyond the realm of her ability to pay back.
It’s the kind of love depicted in 1 Corinthians 13. The kind that says “I won’t keep a record, I will always believe the best, and I won’t give up on you even though you are a maniac who keep dating loser guys and keep losing her mind.” (I don’t think it actually says that part but…). Lisa loved well because she loved like someone greater than her. I have a lot of friends and family who love like this it’s remarkable really.
This kind of love can only be genuine from a heart that knows a love greater than themselves. While this kind of friend is human and not perfect – the desire to love like this comes from someone who genuinely wants to be decreased in their own nature and more like the nature of God’s heart. This kind of love is the kind of love that Aaron and Hur had for Moses when his hands were to heavy facing the battle that raged and together they held his tired arms up for him. This is the kind of love that Jonathan displayed even to the point of betraying his own father to love David well. This is the kind of love that Ruth had for Naomi when asked to just move on with her life…she said ‘no, where you go, I will go”.
But the best demonstration of this kind of love…
This is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated for us as He lovingly went to the cross allow not his sins but my sins to be nailed for all eternity so that we could know that kind of love…
This kind of love is otherworldly love. This love loves the prodigal who comes home after wandering, forgives that same prodigal for hanging with the pigs and still loves the bitter one who refuses this love. This kind of love is the same love that gave the same pay to those who came last as those who came first. Generous love, extravagant love. We all have the capacity to love in this kind of way. Not perfectly because we aren’t perfect, but Christ’s love in and through us is perfect.
I haven’t always loved like this, in my youth and even in my adulthood my ability to love well was compromised by insecurity, selfishness, critical, prideful and an afraid to love limit. I’m still learning and growing. I pray that God will continue to spear my heart with a desire to love more like Him and less like me – to love more generously. I’m thankful for the friends like Lisa, and others, who have loved me like this, loved me in spite of me, loved me like Jesus.
and I hope to love them more like 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8