Several years ago, I remember getting a phone call right before dinner. I was juggling plates, loading up food, and sniffing the milk to make sure it was drinkable when I glanced down at the caller ID and immediately sighed. Ugh…what now?
The person calling me was someone I had been ministering to for awhile. This person was trying to get back on the path that leads to life, but it was a very rocky road, and I simply did not have the time nor desire to be a hiking guide. Instead of embracing the opportunity to show the love of God to someone in need, I instead chose to ask God why he insisted on brining people into my life who needed to be shown that love in the first place. With my best impersonation of Alicia Silverstone’s Clueless performance, I rolled my eyes to the sky and said, “Like, you know, God, I to-tal-ly have my own life!”
Of course, God responded in equal measure and I’m pretty sure I heard him say, “Are you serious right now?” I put down the plates and picked up the phone.
Sometimes, love is hard. If I’m being honest, I don’t always want to put out the effort to love. Love is messy. Love is complicated. Love is uncomfortable. Love makes you vulnerable. Love takes time. Love requires intentionality. Love is unpredictable. Love is hard. Why didn’t Paul say any of that in 1st Corinthians? I suppose no one would want to hang it on their living room wall…
It’s true though…real love is work. It’s so much easier to talk about it than to do it. Take my 13-year old. He’s come up with about 100 different screenplays over the years that he plans to put into development one day when he sets forth on his moviemaking life in LA. But, put a pen and paper in the child’s hand and he suddenly has something much more pressing to do than work out the details of a script that is so much more fun to just talk about. Scriptwriting is a lot of work. Talking about a concept, pretty easy.
The thing is, Jesus was pretty clear about the easy life, and it’s not for us would-be Jesus followers. Jesus said, if you want to follow me, you’d better be ready to work.
Jesus says that we can’t truly follow him unless we’re ready to give up ourselves and focus on others. We have to put aside our own ambition, our own wants, our own plans, our own will, our own perspective at times in order to put love into action. Because our job is to follow Jesus, and Jesus doesn’t always take us on a beach vacation. Where Jesus goes, life is rough. Where Jesus goes, people are broken. Where Jesus goes, shadows threaten. But Jesus makes rough places plain. Jesus heals the broken spirits. Jesus casts out the darkness with the light of his love. And my friends, he invites us to follow him on this journey.
I’m ashamed to admit that when it comes to putting love in action, I often don’t want to follow. I don’t want to give up my time, my energy, or my dinner plans to follow Jesus somewhere or to someone who makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to see the broken, or walk in the shadows. But then Jesus says, if you can’t put my love into action, then you can’t really follow me. And I want to follow Jesus. I want to follow Jesus because he is the way, and the truth, and the life. I want to follow Jesus because I thrive in his presence. I want to follow Jesus because he gives my life purpose. So, I need to work more on talking less and walking more. I need to put Jesus’ love in action, so that others can know how great his love truly is.
Blessings and Peace,