What does it mean to love without limits? What does it really mean to like Christ? Did Christ tell us to change who we are before we approached him? Did he focus on our lack or on his Grace?
Before my brother-in-law passed away after years of addiction, the family started to practice love with limits. He was ostracized, he was the object of “caring” gossip, and was openly snubbed at family gatherings. I was as guilty as the rest. We justified our mistreatment of him by reminding each other of the amount of money he had stolen from each of us, or the lies he had told, or way he made every issue about him. He was needy and we were fed up. It made for uncomfortable holidays.
Funny thing is, the kids of the family never saw it. They saw their uncle as the barrel of laughs he had always been. He was ready to wrestle and rough house with the boys, he hid his peas in his napkins like the kids, and told loud stories that amused them all. They loved him and his old sober self showed up in those moments.
I think back to him and the way I have come to understand God’s love recently. God loves us completely and fully just like we are right now. Changing is a by-product of accepting his love. He doesn’t expect us to change before we approach the throne of grace, he just beckons us to come. Why do we as people redeemed in Christ expect others to change to fit our standards before we shower them with love?
We are called to love others like Christ loved us, fully, completely, without condemnation. Why is it so hard to grasp? Is it the giant plank stuck in our own eye that is blinding us to the need for love that the other is longing for? While we are taking a pair of tweezers to our neighbor’s eye, we are missing the opportunity to bless and encourage another that may have stumbled along the way.
Love isn’t a by-product of Christ, it is Christ. It’s the incredible presence of the father in all we are. He loves us! We love through him. I’m not sure the “tough love” mantra is his thing or our justification for walking away from our divine appointments.
So I choose to love, even when it hurts, even when the world says it is time to walk away, even when the other person decides to leave, not because of who I am; but because of who he is.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.