Ugly Love

Ugly Love

Still biting off life in six minutes mouthfuls, which has left me soul-searching of late. There are certain burdens that come with miracles that leave me asking too many times,”What really matters in my life?”  Was only coming up with cliches until the following verse awakened a simple, profound, and ugly truth.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal. 5:6b)

“Love” in this verse comes from the word “agape“, which means “an act of the will”. As little as I probably understand “agape”, I think I’ve observed glimpses of it in true-life actions of strangers towards people who had nothing to give back.

  • There was the mother, who didn’t seem to have much herself, who handed the cashier her credit card a second time and motioned towards the disheveled mommy rummaging through her purse in the other line while also trying  to reign in a naughty child.
  • There was a young man who sat down beside an older man in a coffee shop and started a conversation.  “I know this is odd, but I think I’m supposed to ask you if there is anything I can pray for.  Are you okay?”  The second man stared – tears formed –  and soon two heads were bent together, the tears now flowing … pain releasing.
  • I know of another stranger who stopped a woman in the grocery store.  The stranger was nervous, hesitant, but asked the woman how she was.  Did she need prayer for anything?  The woman trembled.  That particular day was the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance ten years ago.  The daughter had been abducted … probably murdered. How did the stranger know?  “I didn’t,” the stranger said.  “but Christ does. He hasn’t forgotten.”

What does faith expressing itself through (agape) love look like?  It looks these people: risk-taking, kind-hearted, time-giving, faith-driven people. People who made a willful decision, trusting the outcome to God, even thought they might face ridicule or rejection.

The actions described here are heart warming, beautiful, even. Faith … expressing itself through love … it should be beautiful.  But faith isn’t always beautiful.  There’s an ugly side of agape love. Horrible, even. It is Jesus Christ brutalized on a cross.Ol' rugged cross

 

The cross, I’m afraid, is in danger of having become too polished, too comfortable … a symbol of safety and warm feelings. The pretty gold and silver ones we hang around our necks … the sanitized versions protruding from church steeples … the nicely sanded wooden replicas on the walls of our homes … ornamental or life-altering?

To Jesus, there was nothing comforting about a cross.  It was a criminal’s punishment; a tool of torture used by cruel soldiers against their enemies. The cross was inhumane. It was meant to humiliate, harm, and destroy human beings. Jesus suffered horribly there, undeservedly, for those He loves.

On that Cross, hung and bled the Creator of the Universe, having in His mind every single human being. Whether we scoff, mock, ignore, reject, rebel, hide, scorn, run, or just simply hurt … He was there … nailed by love. By an act of faith, birthed out of love, expressing itself through love, Jesus turned cruelty into hope. He made a death sentence into freedom.  It was ugly.  It was love.

 “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”  John 13:1Cross at Cemetary II

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8 thoughts on “Ugly Love

  1. What a great reminder. Mahalo! Even what we consider small act of kindness is monumentally important to God. That is what He is watching. We tend to focus on doing something big with our lives and consider our lives small and unimportant if we don’t do something big or everyone knows our name or we get in the newspaper. But ultimately it is God watching the small acts of faith throughout our life that is most important because it shows Him what is actually in our hearts and if we are truly responding to him by faith

    1. “Even what we consider small act of kindness is monumentally important to God.” I love this, Jeff. Coming from our shared spiritual roots, which sometimes tended towards the name-in-lights brand of Christianity, I know you understand my wrestle. I appreciate your insights, especially coming off your recent trip where I know you were put to the test in this same manner. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful blog about agape love! Its so hard to let our selfish nature be nailed to the cross! I was just reading this morning in a devotion about crucifixion being a slow death, and that certainly is the case for my own selfish nature! I pray that God would work His love in my heart so I reach out to others without thinking about myself!

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