Summary: When love gets hard, love enough to fight for it, to spend yourself for it, and don't give up until death.
Love Myths #5: How Then Should We Love?
February 14, 2010
There are a lot of things on people’s minds this weekend, between Valentine’s day, a long weekend, the launch of the 2010 winter Olympics, and all the general stuff of life. So rather than fight those things, I want to go with them…
Let’s start with the Olympics, and let me ask this question: what are the things it takes to be an Olympic athlete? (make list). Now what, out of all of those things, is completely within the athlete’s control?
Today is the last week in our series on how we love the way God loves in the middle of a society that sends powerful and very different messages about what love actually is. Next week is the first Sunday in the season of Lent, which begins Wednesday with “Ash Wednesday”, and we’ll be beginning our journey to the celebration of life at the empty tomb. I’m going to try to bridge the two this morning by tying a love myth into our Lenten focus. And as I have each week in this series, we base this exploration on Jesus’ summary of the entire Old Testament which we read in Matt 22:36-40: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Myth: Love Should Be Easy:
In this series we’ve been starting with our culture, and then going to Scripture. So let me ask this – what do you think our culture says is the absolute height of human existence? Like what is the big goal, the main thing to aim for, the place where you can say “I’ve made it!”, the cultural equivalent of the Olympic gold medal for “life” – what do you think that is in the message of our culture? And let’s take that one step further – what deep human need does that trigger within us? I think that one of the reasons these cultural messages are so powerful is that they really do present themselves as genuine and legitimate answers to very real human needs, but they are lies so never truly meet those needs. A far better answer to those real human needs are found in Scripture.
Having the benefit of advance warning to think these questions through, I’m convinced that this cultural “height of human existence” is that we are rich enough to do anything we want. I really think it comes down to that – the money to live a life of leisure, and of ease. And I think that the deep human need that excites within us is the need for freedom. If we listen to our culture, we aren’t free to do what we want because we don’t have the money, and if we just won the lottery, or saved enough for retirement, or received a big enough inheritance, we could then be free to live however we wanted.
This sets us up for a view of the world that says that “ease” and “comfort” are the top of the pyramid, and that being free means that everything should come easy. From here, it is a very short hop to our incorporation of this idea into our understanding of relationships, and the myth: love should be easy. It shouldn’t be hard, we shouldn’t have fights or disagreements or conflicts, it shouldn’t take (now listen carefully…) it shouldn’t take so much work that it feels like I’m putting more work into it than I feel is being returned in good feelings. We have this deep seated, culturally engrained notion of love as making life easier, more comfortable, full of nice feelings, and maybe an occasional little rough patch but those are minor and unimportant and temporary – and if they aren’t then there is a big problem because (according to our culture) if it is hard then something must be wrong with the love, and (generally) our culture says it is time to dump that relationship and move on to another.
Is that Jesus?
Each week when we have gotten to this place we ask the question, “is that Jesus”? Did Jesus live a life of ease and comfort, did the love Jesus had for us make His life easier? When it got tough, and Jesus had the chance to ditch the original plan and not go through the tough stuff, did he abandon it because it was too difficult? Obvious questions, but for the answer let’s go here: (Matt 26:31-46)