Love one another.
I hear groans. And sighs. And maybe someone muttering. I know what you're thinking.
But I'm the guy who cringes when someone drops random Bible verses in conversation. I'm the guy who always feels awkward when someone says they're praying for me. I'm the guy who feels strangely ill-at-ease when sharing in the kiss or hand of peace.
My faith is personal. My relationship with God is personal. Just as I wouldn't tell you every intimate detail of my other personal relationships, I don't feel comfortable sharing the intimate details of my faith.
Not that my faith is special. Not that I have some special connection with God. Or that I understand some mystery or some secret revealed only to me. I believe none of that. If anything I know less. If anything, my relationship is utterly common. If anything, my faith is weaker than most. It's just extremely personal.
So I'm not going to share my faith. I'm not going to tell you about my relationship with God. I'm not going to brag about all God has done for me. I'm not going to prove God in my life. I claim no special bond.
I'm going to talk about the same thing I always talk about. About the word that's as much a part of this blog as food. It's the same word I've been writing about for 3 years. Beating around the bush, hinting at. It's the word two millennial ago, a carpenter gave to a band of followers: Love one another. And love is what I'm talking about.
Love isn't personal. It's not private. Love is action, love is power, love is a motivator. I always know in my heart what love is, I always recognize when I'm acting with love, cooking with love, speaking with love.
And when it's not love, deep down I know that too. I claimed to know love, but I really just craved personal fame and attention. I claimed to love others, but loved myself more. I claimed to put love first, but hid my mistakes and lashed out in defensiveness. I was hateful, prideful, gossipy, lustful, greedy, gluttonous.
Real love would have compelled me. But I deceived myself. Real love would have motivated me to action, but I rejected what I didn't like. Real love brings clarity, but I always felt turmoil.
I share the tools I love. I share ingredients I love. I share recipes I love. And so I will share this love I love. It's not a love that sits in the background, ignored, until it can produce a profit. It's not a love that can be put away when it's inconvenient or hauled out when I need something to talk about. This love doesn't pay in money or fame or followers. But this love is real.
This love comes without any strings. I don't have to do something to get this love, I don't have to keep a list of commands to earn this love. It's free. It's no trick, it's no lie, it's not a bunch of smoke and mirrors. And once this love enters, it's like a firecracker. Impossible to contain.
This love creates new life. A new person with new motivations. Motivations like joy, peace, contentment, kindness, humility, gentleness, thankfulness. A life, filled with this love, so utterly, so completely new. And so much easier than the old life. Not physically, not financially - but mentally.
Everything bad in me - gone. I'm not speaking metaphorically. I literally mean, that all the wrong motives are wiped out. All the greed and lies and cravings eliminated. This love, this real love, abolishes everything awful, clean slate.
Fame-whore? Who cares about fame. Vain narcissist? Who cares about this deteriorating body. Money-hungry? Who needs wealth. Self-indulgent glutton? What do I care about my own satisfaction. And right when a craving begins (and they do claw back to the surface), this love, this REAL love that I love so much, squashes it out. Because this real love, loves.
You already know what this love is, don't you? You at least suspect. You've been thinking it ever since you read the first sentence. And you're just waiting for me to own up to it and tell you. To say the one name that will confirm your suspicions that I really am just what you knew I was.
I'll say it. This real love is Jesus Christ.
Oh, stop. I didn't say anything about you asking Jesus into your heart (I wouldn't anyway). I didn't say anything about joining a church. I didn't say anything about creating a personal relationship with God. I'm talking about the love I love. And the love I love is Jesus.
I didn't run off and join a cult. I haven't just been "saved". I'm not all high on endorphins. I'm not here to win people. I don't think I'm better than anyone. I don't think I know something just for me. I'm not here to set you straight. I'm not here to ask you to follow a religion or donate money or do ANYTHING.
I'm just here, on this planet, for love. By love. Because of love. It's like waking up after a dream, where you've been the naughtiest child on the planet, and you're staring through a barred window at the most impossibly giant holiday tree buried under a mountain of gifts. And you know none of the gifts - not even one - is yours. Because you don't deserve them. You don't even deserve coal. And that's when you suddenly wake up - and the mountain of gifts is really there. Only it's an even bigger mountain, even more gifts. And they're not for someone else - they're all yours. Despite how utterly naughty you've been. Despite not even deserving coal.
And you can't help yourself. You know it's not possible, you know you deserve none of it. And that's when you feel it. The love. The real love inside, welling up, driving you, humbling you. That's why I can't contain myself. That's why I have to share. I just can't contain this love.
More from this series
- Confessions of a Liar
- Freed for Freedom
- The Ideal Job
- Prime Directive
- Faith, Hope and Handouts
- Killing Monsters
- Jesus Loves Me
- A Letter to You
- Marriage, and the ONE Important Question