Thursday, January 26, 2012

Love Stories

'love' photo (c) 2009, Shirl - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
I write about love all the time. I am drawn to stories about love. My favorite books, movies, songs - they all speak of love. Love that's sexy, love that's funny, love that's romantic, love that's friendly, love that's weird, love that's familial, love that's enduring.

I love these stories because they speak to The Love.

Which is why stories like the one that my friend Matthew shared at his blog earlier this week are so upsetting to me. There is love mentioned, but it's a love that it punitive and harsh. A love that holds someone at arm's length and encourages others to do the same. A love that shames someone for their sins, even after those sins have been confessed.

1 Corinthians 13 gives us a list of what love is and is not:
  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love does not dishonor others
  • Love is not self-seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • Love rejoices with the truth
  • Love protects
  • Love trusts
  • Love hopes
  • Love perseveres
When you write about love as often as I do, you hear people warn about love or suggest that love in the Church isn't like love in the books and movies and song. But I have to mostly disagree with that. The really good stories about love resonate deeply with us because they show the things listed above.

They are stories about people continuing to love through difficult circumstances. They are stories about people holding one another close even when it would be easier to leave. They are stories about people standing up for the wounded, the broken, the bleeding, the down-trodden. They are stories about relationships that people wouldn't expect, but that thrive anyway. They are stories of putting someone else first.

Is there a time for discipline? Absolutely. Without discipline, we don't grow.

But when I read something Matthew 18 in the context of how Jesus lived his life, I see a never-ending loop of love woven in with the discipline. If someone refuses to repent, we treat them as a tax collector. Jesus has a tax collector as one of his disciples. He singles them out as the person with whom he wants to eat. Later in Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant, who ends up in jail. But if I believe that Jesus took all of the sins of the world on his shoulders at the cross (and I sure do), that is also covered in love.

We are surrounded by stories of love. In our world, in our homes, in our churches. Today, let's look for someone who needs a bit of that love.

Let's create more love stories.

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What's your favorite love story? 

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