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Dear Beloved: Choose a Bigger Love

Well it’s about that time again.

The aisles of red and pink have long since cropped up in Dollaramas across the city. The jewelry stores are going hard on their radio ads. You can’t see them, but you can bet that dating apps have appeared on the phones in the pockets of half the people you pass on the street. Some of our more cynical friends are already planning the best way of silently protesting the forthcoming fourteenth.

Love is, as they say, in the air.

That’s why I wanted to take some time to talk about love, which is, (no pun intended) a passion of mine. That’s why I want to ask: what is love?

“Baby don’t hurt me”

We were all thinking it right? It’s kinda wild that the first thing that we think of when we ask that question is a lyric from a 1992 song by a band whose name most of us probably don’t even know (it’s Haddaway. Now you know).

There are so many songs, movies, and books about love, but how often do we actually sit down and think about what we’re singing, screening, and reading about?

So in the week before love becomes the only thing anyone is talking about, let’s get ahead of the game.

I think in today’s world, when we’re talking about love, we talk about it in the sense of a romantic relationship. Romance is great (I’m personally a big fan), but I think that love is beyond and above this one idea.

“The greatest of these is love”

God shows us how to love, but often, we take that love and shrink it. Passages like this one (1 Corinthians 13) end up just as readings at weddings; if you’re at a Christian wedding and you don’t hear “love is patient. Love is kind…” have you actually been to a Christian wedding?

And there’s nothing wrong with using powerful explanations of love alongside these powerful witnesses of love, but we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that that’s the only situation that these passages apply to, that that’s all that love is.

But love is bigger than that. Realistically, our every action should be motivated by love. We should not only be patient, kind, trusting, hoping, and persevering, (among all the other things that love does) in our relationships with our romantic partners, but in our relationships with everyone. Literally everyone.

One of the things that I love about God is that his love for us is unconditional. As Paul reminds us in his letter to believers in Rome, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Likewise, we need to follow Christ on the path of unconditional love and show that love to others.

We’ve got to love everyone for who they are, not by the way they look, and not even by how they treat us. None of us are flawless. We all make mistakes, and more than that, we all do things that we know are wrong. We are all different, and we break in different ways, but we are also all made in the image of God. When we look at those we love, or those we say we hate, are we seeing the broken pieces, or are we seeing God in the reflection?

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Once, before she became a Christian, my girlfriend, Kamal, asked me how and why I could love her so much.

There’s a lot behind this question for me. Obviously, I’m not the perfect boyfriend, and that means I don’t love her perfectly. But for whatever love I could give her, I told her the truth.

I told her about how God loved me, and how through that I could learn to love myself, appreciating myself for who God created me to be in his image.

I told her that, when I understood how God saw me, I began to understand how God sees others. I love that vision, and if I try to look the same way, I can start to genuinely love others.

I told her about how Jesus summarized the law of God: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

A lot of people find fault in the second part, because they understand just how easy it is to hate yourself–to see the cracks that scar the image. But when you’re working from an understanding of just how much God loves you, then it all makes sense.

Learning how to appreciate yourself teaches you how to appreciate others. Learning how to accept yourself teaches you to accept others.

But it’s not a narcissistic love. I’m not saying that you should stare deeply into your own reflection until you’ve lovingly mapped every crease and wrinkle, and then turn your face to those around you. No, you are the site of a love that is somehow both unique and universal. God has built us to love, and so we all do, in big and small ways, but if we look at the fingerprints that he has left on us, we can better understand how love could be more than we ever expected.

Jesus has always loved me more than I will ever deserve to be loved. How can I do any less for my neighbour?

“Love never fails”

When we’re surrounded by Hallmark cards and paper hearts, it’s easy to forget how powerful love really is. Small love is easy, because we can keep it to ourselves for the most part. I think that, in a lot of ways, it’s this misunderstanding of love that limits the love that we see in the world.

If you can’t imagine someone’s life being changed by an overwhelming love, then it’s easy to think that maybe their life can’t be changed at all. If you can’t imagine walls being torn down by a reconciling love, then maybe it’s easy to think that they will never fall. If you can’t imagine captives being released by a redemptive love, then maybe it’s easy to see the shackles as unbreakable.

But I have felt that overwhelming, reconciling, redemptive love, and I believe that this world is beloved. So choose love–choose a bigger love–and together in Christ, we will show that love to the world.


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Please be advised that this blog post may discuss topics related to suicidal ideation. If you feel that the content may affect your well-being, please proceed with caution. If you or someone you know

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