The Depth of True Love

Do you remember the excitement when mom and dad announced they were going out and your favorite babysitter would be there any minute?  What was it that made those nights so special?  For me it was knowing that for the next several hours the rules did not apply.  I could stay up a little later.  I could eat whatever I wanted.  I could make a fort in the middle of the living room, and I could watch the scary movie.  And mom and dad would never know… or so it seemed.

In a kid’s world that is a dream come true, isn’t it?  No rules.  No limits.  We can do whatever we want and not have any consequences.  What could be better?  But, would we have traded our parents for the babysitter? Maybe in the moment, in the mind of a 7 year old we would… for a second.  But all it would take would be one scary dream (from watching the scary movie we weren’t supposed to) when mom and dad suddenly became the most priceless commodity in our life.  How could we have ever entertained the thought of life without them even if it was only for a second?

And yet, I would bet that if you asked my babysitter, or yours… especially your favorite one, they would tell you that they loved you.  And most of them would really mean it.  They loved sitting with you, playing with you, allowing you to break a few rules here and there, being the fun sitter that you asked for by name.  That love was genuine.  But, is it the same kind of love as your parent’s love?  Of course not.

The love from our parents included limits, boundaries, and rules.  It was annoying, irritating, persistent, and unrelenting.  It was standing over us as we cleaned our room for hours when it would have taken them 20 minutes.  It was staying up late with us watching us finish homework that we put off until the last minute and didn’t tell them about until bedtime.  It was staying awake to hold us in the middle of the night so we could sleep when sickness or fear overcame us.

We use the same word.  We call it love.  But I think we all agree, that kind of love is a love that runs much deeper than the love from our favorite babysitter.  It is sacrificial.  It is messy.  It is tough.  It is at times uncomfortable to receive because its limits deny us from getting what we want.  But it doesn’t end.  It doesn’t go home at the end of the night.  And it’s the love that’s there for us when we break those rules and push those boundaries and have to pay the consequences.

Our Country is celebrating what some are calling a great victory.  What is most tragic to me is not that the Supreme Court ruled as they did.  The decisions of mankind even of the highest court in our great land are just that… the decisions of mankind.  They are of no surprise to God.  They neither diminish His authority, nor dissuade His passion for us.  What is most tragic to me is that, to use our analogy, the babysitter’s love is being touted as greater than the love of a parent.  That is not true.  And belief in it will fail those who trust it.

The truth is that no matter what our government sanctions, whatever laws or rules we are allowed to break the rules of the house don’t change.  Going to bed at a decent hour, eating healthy, keeping the living room neat and tidy, and staying away from scary movies didn’t just disappear when the babysitter showed up.  They still existed.  We just had permission to ignore them.  Do you remember making the argument to your parents, “But the babysitter lets me do that?”  How did that work out for you?

True love does set limits.  It sets limits that are uncomfortable.  It sets limits that absolutely go against our nature.  It sets limits we sometimes don’t understand.  It tells us at times we can’t have what we want even if what we want seems to be what everyone else has.  It doesn’t seem fair.  But that doesn’t mean it is not love.

To my LGBT friends: There is One who sees you, knows you, and made you exactly the way that you are.  He knows where you are at and what you have been through.  He knows your struggle.  He loves you so much that before you even existed in this world, He looked at you and who you would become and then said to His Son, “Son, it’s for her… it’s for her that I’m sending you into the world to die.  Because I want to have a relationship with her that will last forever.  I want her to have everything you have as my Son.”  He’s not a mean parent who doesn’t want you to be happy.  He’s a Parent who loves you so deeply that He sets what seems to be unrealistic limitations because what He has for you is a life that is better than what the babysitter can offer you.  It is true relationship with the God of the universe filled with deep and passionate love that will last forever.

I know that may be of little comfort to you when your heart is aching for a person that you feel fulfilled by, one that you believe completes you in a way no one else can, the one you want to build your life with.  But I guarantee you, that He will be there for you in the middle of the night when no one else is.  He will be there to guide every decision and help you through every difficulty.  His love is real and yes, it does have limits even on those things that feel natural and right.  Don’t settle for the babysitter’s love.  It will fail you.  Don’t judge His love as hate because it sets limits, or because those who supposedly know His love have judged or mistreated you.  Christians are sinners too and tragically do not always love as He loves.  But He is the real deal.  He knows what sacrificing the love of His life feels like… He gave up His own Son for you.

I also want you to know, my friends, that I share this with you as someone who has struggled with her own identity.  My experiences may not be the same as yours, but I believe I understand your struggle from first-hand experience.  I have chosen to put God first, to follow His rules, and to dedicate my life to Him.  That has meant in some cases, going without, being different, not fitting in with what everyone else in society seems to have.  All I can tell you is, I know His love is real.  He has not failed me yet and I know by faith that He never will.  He has been a part of my darkest hours and I wouldn’t trade Him for a temporary happiness that will ultimately leave me spiritually empty.

Lord, my prayer is your heart’s desire… that all will come to know your love.  Thank you for that love.  Help me and all those who follow you to show that love to others and especially to those who are struggling with sin – whatever that sin may be.   Thank you for your great grace.  Thank you for a passion that can never be deterred by the laws and decisions of man.  Your love is real and deeper than the deepest ocean.  You are real.  Thank you for sacrificing your own Son so that we could have a restored relationship with you that will last forever.  I love you and I need you, Lord, every day.  Thank you for being there to meet us where we’re at.

To My Gay and Lesbian Friends

Dear friend,

There’s a lot of opinion buzzing about the two Supreme Court decisions this week.  You and I usually don’t talk too deeply about this issue out of respect for each other and what we each believe.  But I thought it was important to fly in the face of all the rhetoric out there (on both sides) to stop and tell you how much I love you.

I love you enough to tell you that I understand your elation.  I understand how good it must feel to have these decisions come down in your favor.  I get it and I’m happy when I see you happy.

But I also love you enough to tell you that I respectfully can’t celebrate with you.  I don’t agree with the decisions that were made.  I know many would call me a bigot and a “H8TR” for even saying that.  Please know, I don’t want any harm to come to you.  I don’t want you to be mistreated, or discriminated against, or hurt by anyone, or by the laws of this land.  I have nothing but love for you.  I hope that’s what I’ve shown you and continue to show you throughout our friendship.  So indulge me just a little as I try to explain my logic, as twisted as it may appear on the surface.

I love you enough to tell you and hopefully show you that there is a God who loves you way more than I or any human ever could.  He is LOVE!  He knows nothing else but love.  Everything He does is centered and permeated with love.  This God I believe in (and perhaps the One you believe in too) loves all of us enough to set limits on us.  He doesn’t limit His love (it’s limitless) but He does set limits on us.  He, like any loving parent, does not indulge our every desire.  We’ve all seen that kid… the one who gets whatever he wants.  Not only does he make those around him miserable, he is miserable himself.  We know that true love sets limits.

I love you enough to tell you that God applies the same limits to me that He applies to you.  We are designed to be in relationship with Him.  He created us for that.  The limits He sets on you and me are designed to keep us close to Him.  Whatever it is about us, whatever area of our life that causes us to separate from Him, whatever behavior that drives a wedge between He and us, that is where we will find a limit that He has set for us.  The limits are the same for every person.  The difference is in us.  The things I may have a proclivity for to cause distance between Him and I may be different than yours, and vice versa.  But the limits are the same.  We are equal in the eyes of God.  He wants and desires a close relationship with both of us and He wants to remove whatever gets in the way of that.

I love you enough to tell you that sexuality is not outside those limits.  He created and designed each one of us.  He knows better than anyone what drives us, what brings us happiness, what fuels our passion. He knows every detail about you and He loves you.  You may not believe me.  You may think He is cruel for setting limits in an area that is at the core of our humanity and our pleasure, our sexuality, but He does.  He has set limits on EVERYTHING that has the potential to separate us from Him.  That’s not out of cruelty.  It is instead to show us the vastness of His love for us.  He wants a relationship with each of us that much!  He wants you to know Him and the life that you and He can have together is greater – so much greater – than your sexual desires.  Our culture puts such a high value on our sexuality.  He is saying, “I am greater!”  And I believe with all my heart that He is. He has proven it to me in my own life… a life that IS limited in the pursuit of sexual desires.

I love you enough to tell you that all of us would be permanently separated from Him forever because of what we’ve done to cause that separation.  Don’t believe for a moment the lie that you’re somehow “worse” or “less loved” by God because of what separates you from Him.   It’s not true!   All of us are guilty of doing things that would make a relationship with God impossible.  But because Jesus, God’s Son, took the blame for what we’ve done and paid the ultimate price, we can have that relationship that God wants.  We just have to believe that He really did that for us, that He loves us that much.  And we have to want that relationship with Him that He wants with us.  Wanting relationship with Him includes surrendering our desires in acceptance of His love and the limits He sets for us.

As a believer in this great love of His, the decisions this week come as a disappointment to me because they attempt to erase or at least cloud the limits God has set.  It may not be the job of the government to reflect God’s love or His limits.  But for a long time our government has.  The fact that that is changing may be reason to celebrate for some, but I can’t join in that celebration.  My passion for you and for everyone is to know how great His love is and that His love includes setting limits.

I understand that our culture is changing.  These decisions reflect the wisdom of men and I believe they were made with compassion and in the name of equality.  But the wisdom of men is not the same as the wisdom of God.  And His wisdom, compassion, and justice is far greater than any man’s or any nation’s.  I hate to see anyone limited by the wisdom of men when the freedom that comes with the love of God is available for the asking.  I realize a love that sets limits does not sound like freedom.  But just like the kid who got everything and was miserable, it wasn’t until someone loved him enough to limit him that he then had everything!  I respect the laws of this land and the decisions that were made.  But I want you to understand that disagreeing with them does not equal hatred for you.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I truly love you and want you to know and experience the love that God has for you.

I love you enough to know and accept our disagreements and love you in spite of them, as I know you love me.  Let’s promise each other that no matter how vicious the rhetoric gets on either side, we will always choose to love each other in spite of our differences.

I love you, friend,

Chris