Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why Love Matters

Yesterday, I asked you to look with me at the story of Mary and the way that maybe more than she loved Jesus, she was in love with Him. I'm not the first one, by any means, to suggest this type of infatuation but it still sounds sacrilegious to most of us. You can't say that about the Messiah. You can't say someone was in love with Him. How dare you!


Because here's the thing, and here's what I take from having this occasional thought about Mary - maybe in love is a better way to love Jesus than simply to love Him.

Love is a funny thing. It can be a dynamic relationship or a stagnant feeling. It can be the most penetrating of all truths or the most fleeting fascination. Whenever you love something, you have to ask yourself why. What is the purpose of your love?

When we say we love Jesus and read all these stories thinking everyone loved Jesus in the same way we think we're supposed to love Jesus, it kind of stagnates the relationship. It raises the Son of God to this awkward status of being deeply loved, but that detracts from the interaction between He and we. Think about the way you read the Gospels. Maybe it's just me, but when I read the stories thinking of the ways in which Jesus was loved, I get this mental image of men and women coming to Him. I see them bowing down, kneeling, popping a squat to hear Him speak. I see them bringing gifts and gathering around Him, following Him from here to there. And I get this idea that Jesus is the story.

Jesus is not the story.

(Blasphemy! I know. Hang with me.)

The Son of God walking the earth as an object of affection and a target of love is not the story. Jesus just being here is nothing. If He doesn't get the love thing right while He's here, it's all naught. Do you understand that?

God loved us first so that we could love, and so often we look at our relationship with Jesus or with God in terms of how much we love Him. That's not the story. The story is how much He loves us.

Which is why sometimes, I like to think of Mary being in love with the Lord. I like to think of her as I described yesterday, sitting at His feet to get His attention. Lavishing gifts upon His feet so that He will look at her. Doing her best to make Him notice her, maybe even love her.

Because that's the story. The story is not, although we so often tell it this way, that Mary loved Jesus. It's nice and all, but it's not the story. The story is that Jesus loved Mary. I don't think we'd see that if she wasn't in some way trying to work herself into His love. If she wasn't seeking Him out not to worship Him but to elicit His response to her. When you read the story of Mary thinking how much she maybe longed for Jesus to love her back, you can't help but think about your own story and wonder what it would mean to go after Jesus in love not only because you love Him and you think that's the way you're supposed to love Him but because you hope, in the deepest part of your being, that He will love you back. You can't help but think about the longing in your heart for Him to love you.

It's too easy to lose that when we think we're supposed to love Jesus. (We should. I mean, it's really hard not to love the Guy.) But when we come before Him in worship, in idolization of all He is, when we always come bearing gifts and bringing presence and bowing down, it's easy to think we've got it right. We're loving Jesus. It just feels...hollow.

But if we would come before Him in love with Him, hoping that He notices us, longing for Him to see us, waiting on Him to love us back, we position our hearts to receive His love. We put ourselves in a place to feel, know, and live His story. We open ourselves to the possibility, however painful the hope may be, that Jesus just may one day love us. It's a lot to hold onto, but it's an exhilarating hope. And it's important to the way we experience Jesus, we interact with Him, even the way we love Him in return.

More tomorrow.

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