Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love and Its Sacrifice

I've been continuing to think a lot about the concept of love lately. In some ways I feel that I am trying to see everything through the lens of love. For instance, it changes something in to to simply start to ask yourself, "What would Love do in this situation?" instead of the traditional, "What would Jesus do?"

One thing I notice is that I use the word far less frequently. It means far more to me today than it did a few years ago. When I speak it, I realize I am making a commitment to that person.

I was listening to Darin Hufford talk the other day and he was describing his work among some homeless people years ago. He learned that when he told them that he was doing the work because "Jesus loved them" it was far different than when he begin to tell one of them that he, Darin, loved them. When he finally said, "I love you" it demanded that he DO something. He ended up bringing a homeless man to his home to live with him, all because when he said, "I love you," he could no longer let this man live on the street.

I realized that what Darin was saying was so very true. I cannot say I love you and then pretend that your needs do not matter to me. Love cannot be ignored. Love, in its very nature, demands sacrifice.

I always thought that if I do something for someone I was loving them. I'm beginning to sense that I have it all backwards. If I love someone, the doing will come naturally. I was always about doing. It was exhausting. But if you love, the doing flows naturally. Yes, you get tired and sometimes it does take an act of your will but when you love, something wells up inside of you so that you simply cannot pass by.

I wonder if when Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments," that what he was really saying was that if we loved him we would find ourselves naturally keeping his commandments. I've always felt guilty and tried to DO the commandments to show I loved Him. When I finally let myself be loved by Him I find myself returning the love and then I suddenly find it in me that I am doing what he wanted me to do all along.

I have seen no greater love than this, that a man will lay down his life for his friend. Not because he goes around laying down his own life so that he can see that he loves but that he loves and therefore finds himself naturally laying down his life.

Or maybe I'm parsing the words and their meanings too much.

One thing I notice is that I use the word far less frequently. It means far more to me today than it did a few years ago. When I speak it, I realize I am making a commitment to that person. I like that.


Sue said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the differences between Buddhism and Christianity (I lurrrrve this space. I love sitting here. I love being informed by Buddhism).

The concept there that interests me and relates to what you are saying here is the idea that peace and love and compassion are things everybody can cultivate, that in a sense the higher part of ourselves is always in that space. I wonder if that is what that reference to being "seated in the heavenlies" is about. And if all of those things are freely available, to everybody, at every time, regardless, then the knowledge and practice of that would change everything.

I love what you write here. Challenging. Thanks for sharing :)

Ruth said...

Oh my gosh I totally get what you're saying because I've been thinking about this too! And then just today a friend and I were talking about it because Jackie Pullinger was speaking at her church this week about it.

That scripture about keeping Jesus commands came into my in box this week and I pondered it wondering what were Jesus commands and then it occurred to me that the only thing he asks us to do is to love our brother.

I love the Darrin Hufford story. It's true, we need Jesus love to work through us AS US. Not just try to imitate Jesus like behavior. In that, we become Love.

Thanks Barb for again clarifying what is going on in my mind.You just have a knack for that!

traveller said...

Well said.

Jane said...

Do you still "love" me? I hope so...


Barb said...

Yes, I both "Love" you and LOVE YOU!!

Ellyn said...

Good Morning - Inspired by your simple message "What would love do?" I am compelled to write this on our family chalkboard so as to be reminded often - thank you. I do struggle with the word "sacrifice" and feel that it encompasses something negative - just rambling here but would love some feedback...


Barb said...

Thanks for reading Ellyn and leaving comment. I hardly like the word sacrifice anymore the way we flippantly use it. For instance it may be a sacrifice to have a child but that is only from our personal pain part of it. In every other way, it is such a pleasure.