It's important that we live in such a way that anyone looking at us would know that our love for Jesus is more true than anything else that we do. (See yesterday.) But it's also important that we live in such a way that anyone looking at us can see what is most true about us.
What's more true than that we love Jesus?
That He loves us.
We've actually been talking about this, as the church, for generations. Most of us have heard, and have to some degree bought, that this means we live in such a way that persons who are living without the love of God want what we have. It sounds nice when we say it that way. It sounds evangelistic when we say it that way. It sounds like a very good way to bring someone into the fold of God - to make them want what we have. But let's put it in other words, meaning the same thing, and see if that still holds true.
Live in such a way that anyone watching will be jealous of God's love for you.
It sounds less like a good idea now, doesn't it?
This idea sets us up in competition with one another, and worse, it sets God up in competition, too. Someone may come to God, longing for the kind of love you have, and maybe they find it. Great. Are you okay with God loving someone else the way He loves you? But what if they don't find it? What if God's love for them doesn't look the same way as His love for you? Is He a disappointment now? Kinda. We've set Him up to fail by declaring, with the best of intentions, "This is what God's love does for a person," when in fact, we have no idea what God's love does for someone else.
We know that God's love dulls the ache in their emptiness. We know that God's love fills them. We know that God's love draws them into the life they were created to live.
So really, when we talk about living what is most true about us, yes. We live loved. But we live in such a way not so that anyone watching can see God's love in us, but so that anyone watching can see what God's love does in us. So they can see how God's love makes us more of who we are. How His love gives us the freedom and the confidence to pursue our intended creation. So they can see shadows of our emptiness, illuminated by His light.
So they can believe their shadows can dance, too.
It sounds like I've contradicted myself, but I haven't, so let me say that another way, too. We live in God's love not focused on the specifics of who we are but on the graces of who He is. We live in God's love not highlighting our weaknesses, but showing His strengths. We live in God's love not emphasizing our emptiness, but epitomizing His fullness.
Instead of living like God's love has healed us from some very specific event in our life, we must live like God's love has simply healed us. Because not all very specific events turn out the same way, but our God is still a healing God. Instead of living like God's love has mended our broken hearts from the burden of something we faced once upon a time, we must live like God's love has simply mended our broken hearts. Because not all burdens are mended in the same way, but our God mends the broken-hearted for sure.
See, we have to reference those watching to our living God, our loving God, not our specific God. He's just not going to come to them in the same way that He comes to us. But that doesn't free us from the ministry of proclaiming that He comes. Period.
It's a delicate balance, for sure. It's not easy to pull off. We have to figure out how to live loved without forsaking the details of the God who comes to us but without implying that our details somehow point to what is most true about God. Because what is most true about God is not how He loves, but that He loves.
And what is most true about us is that He loves us.
Herein lies the key to living well.