Love Makes Duds
Love turns the bomb of revenge, retaliation and retribution into a dud. When the bomb of revenge, retaliation and retribution detonates within us, we get damaged or destroyed in the blast. We are at ground zero. We occupy the zone of danger. The recommendation that Jesus makes to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) is made for our benefit not just for the benefit of our enemies. Love is in our self-interest. Love makes sense. Rational creatures refuse to detonate when the fuse is lit. They reject the temptation to explode. They deny themselves - they deny their natural instinct (Matthew 16:24). Christians are duds. We do not want to transmogrify ourselves into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. We are duds because we know that we are within the radius of the blast. We do not want to self-destruct.
Love has two components that can be measured: 1) SCOPE and 2) SIZE. To measure love, data from the answers to two questions are needed. 1) What is the scope of our love? In other words, whom do we love? Is the scope of our love narrow or broad? Whom do we include in and whom do we exclude from the scope of our love? Is our love selfish or sacrificial? 2) What is the size of our payment? Love is not free. It comes at a cost. Love demands a ransom. Are we willing to pay the cost of love? Furthermore, how much are we willing to pay? Is the amount we are willing to pay small or large? Are we generous or parsimonious with our payment?
Absorbing evil and doing good are expensive. Both methods of fixing a broken universe come at a cost. Love is the willingness to pay out of one’s own pocket the cost of absorbing evil or doing good. Love is the energy by which we help our God with the bloody wounds fix our broken universe. Love and love alone enables us to make repairs.
Love is the "grease" that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears, across the Red Sea of death and into the promised land.
A flat heart, like a flat tire, makes the ride through the Valley of Tears rough. Therefore, the Son of God paid us a visit TO INFLATE OUR DEFLATED HEARTS WITH LOVE. He came to change the tire.
Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. He clung to love for us, held tight and refused to let go even though we tortured and killed him. He recommends that we do likewise. Therefore, when you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.
BREAKTHROUGHS IN THE SCIENCE OF LOVE
Love is more than an emotion. Love has two components that can be measured: 1) scope and 2) size. As our love broadens in scope and grows in size, the closer we come to perfection in love.
Initially, the scope of our love is limited to ourselves (selfish love). We begin at absolute selfishness. God, however, inserted structures into our lives that encourage us to expand the scope of our love (sacrificial love). Family is the first love expanding structure. Inhabiting a family, we learn to expand the scope of our sacrificial love to family members. In a family, we experience a reciprocity of sacrificial love. God inserts various other love expanding structures into our lives such as marriage, team, tribe and Church. By experiencing reciprocity of sacrificial love in these and other love expanding structures, we approach perfection in love. Love begets love.
The good Samaritan is celebrated for expanding the scope of love. He picked up the tab for a stranger in distress. The expansion of the scope of love by the good Samaritan was a breakthrough in the science of love. The good Samaritan raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love Luke 10:25-37.
When it was Jesus's turn, Jesus pushed the envelope. He raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love far higher than the Good Samaritan did.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. This is the conventional wisdom. Jesus destroyed the conventional wisdom. He obliterated it. He turned conventional wisdom on its head. Jesus showed us a love that was more radical - more extreme - than laying down one's life for our friends. How so? Jesus laid down his life for his enemies. Jesus picked up the tab for us, the very sinners who tortured and murdered him Romans 5:8 Matthew 7:6 Luke 23:34. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" Luke 23:34. Wow! How radical is such love! How extreme! Is no one, not even his enemies, excluded from the scope of his love?
In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we planted Jesus. And the glorious flower of the Resurrection bloomed. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love Isaiah 55:8-9Psalm 8:4-8 (KJV) [What is man?].
Love is sacrifice. Selfish love picks up the tab for ourselves. Sacrificial love picks up the tab for others. It is a willingness to pay out of our own pockets the costs for the production of benefits to or the removal of burdens from our neighbors.
Take stock of yourself. What is the scope and size of your love? How much are you willing to pay from your own pocket? For whom?