Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Courage of Loving

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love”
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is no question about this above fact. It will take a great deal of courage to deal with the inevitable disappointments loving will bring. It’s putting ourselves out there for want of something beyond our own needs and desires. Love is very plainly selfless.

Most people these days, however, think love is the opposite--some mushy, gooey, comfortable ‘feeling’ that makes us feel good. Love, however--the real thing--is not about us. It’s about the other person in the relationship.

Courage is required to love because people will always let us down. Even if we love God we’ll be disappointed from time to time because he can’t possibly always answer us the way we want him to.

To truly love is to open ourselves to rejection which is said to be a human’s greatest fear. Loving someone is saying we accept them. This does not mean our affections will be reciprocated--indeed, many times our love will be rejected. Rejection and acceptance are opposite sides of the love coin.

Martin Luther King, like many who’ve given their lives for love and for God, knew only too well the pain of love and the cavernous abyss of disappointment in his thirteen years of profound political ministry for the freedom of his people and universal human rights.

He knew the rejection that Christ himself experienced; at the hands of bigoted, self-righteous, hypocritical people. He faced directly and indirectly the feared aggression of white supremacists almost every day of his 39 year life. Yet I don’t think he ever condemned them totally for it.

He knew, of course, it was fear that drove the hate. “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” –1 John 4:18 (TNIV). Mature, complete love is the perfect antidote to hate. It never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

We know where King’s love came from. As his life hung by a thread on the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” –Luke 23:34 (NIV).

And it’s no different for us. When we can reject rejection in the name of love and love the person rejecting us as Jesus did, in that moment we’ve become like God i.e. our behaviour--in that moment--is congruent with the character of God.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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