Ever been called crazy? Reckless? Dangerous? Ever wondered why others don’t fight the way you do? Think the way you do? Feel the same anger at the same injustices you do? Even look at the “others” with the same love you do? Ever had something really important you know had to be said, only to feel no one was listening?
I have. Many times. And many more times, I have found myself asking God: Why?
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 1 Corinthian 2:14
Twice last week I heard this verse. Once in my quiet time with God, when I had asked him why He kept insisting I keep pursuing even though it was oh-so-hard, and again in a preaching class.
Yep. I must seem pretty crazy.
Or am I?
I spent a good amount of my weekend pondering why we so desperately long for love, yet are so unable to give it, express it, and show it, and knew then…His message is not all that outrageous. It just takes a lot of work. Work that is necessary. May cost something. May get us called a few names, and let’s be honest-work that some of us think not everyone deserves.
And, yes. Work that has deemed me crazy. Because it is what hurt the most, but it was also my greatest source of light. The only thing that kept me from moving out of a darkness that cast a shadow over a good part of a year.
Believe it or not. Love is in fact what often motivates us.
Francis Chan says this about love in his book, Crazy Love:
“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk. Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying. You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you are crazy about. When you are apart from each other; it’s painful, even miserable. He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together.”
What if we had this kind of love for God? For others? What if we were so crazy in love with our Lord we kept Jesus’ greatest commandments?
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally as important” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
So, how do we love like crazy? Love Him. Love others. Recklessly and outrageously pursue love for those that are not like us, even if it costs us something.
First, we love God.
What does it mean to “love God?” It does mean to follow His commandments, to live life a certain way. To be of a certain noble character. But, it’s also more than that.
I have two signs in my kitchen. They are on my wall as soon as you come in our house. The kitchen door is on the side of our house, but for those who come by frequently, they know you come in through this door…because someone is ALWAYS in the kitchen. Anyway…the first sign reads: “GOD BLESS THIS HOME.”
The second is below the first and reads: “FAMILY IS THE HEART OF THE HOME.”
God first. Family second. Everything else after.
It’s why my kids know “quiet time,” may extend past the scheduled 30 minutes, because Mommy is talking to God.
It’s why when the youngest asks “Are you always going to be on your computer working this school year at night?” during a breakfast conversation, that you realize you need to shift priorities.
God first. Family second. Everything else after.
Loving God means He is the center of my life. My ability to make decisions is no longer based on what I want. And, to some that is crazy talk.
When questions like, “Are you sure you can handle that?” are met with, “No, but God knows I can.” People look at you funny. Because, the worldly expectation is that you are bound by your strength and abilities, not the power of Him in you.
When you make a career move because it is wise, and healthy, and the response is, “Are you sure you want to make that move, with them?” And you respond with, “I don’t have a choice, God decided for me.” People don’t know what to say. Because the worldly expectation is that decisions are based on pros and cons lists, not answered prayers.
When you are asked over and over again how you can allow people to spit hateful and abusive words at you over and over, and continue to smile and forgive, and you respond with, “Because God asked me to,” you get labeled the crazy one. Because who loves like that?
People who love God. Parents who want their kids to love God. God-loving people who want others to know just how much God is crazy in love with them.
Because, when we love God, we also reject this idea that we need to fit in and be accepted by the world. We measure our worth by His standards, by how He sees us, even if today we are broken. Even if today we make a huge mistake. Even if today our hair is a mess, or our dress is wrinkled.
We know in the words of an 11 year old girl that I am slowly finding may be wiser than me in all her sassy ways: Who cares, because Jesus sure does not! He says to come as you are!
When we begin to love God, we also begin to love all the messy parts of ourselves. Because we know. We believe He is crazy in love with us.
And, when He is crazy in love with us, He gives us this love to share. His second greatest commandment. To love your neighbor as yourself. One that can often be the hardest.
Why? Because it means we have to love those who hurt us. Those with whom we tend to disagree. And, yes…those we don’t like. We have to love the messy.
I learned this truth myself in a moment of self-righteousness over the summer. Yes, I have these moments. Until someone reminds me…usually my kids-as was this case, that I need to practice what I preach.
During a talk with them about their constant fighting, I shared something with them I had only mentioned in passing. It was the story of a Post-it note I had stuck in my Bible, and the particular prayer, I prayed each morning and night over that Post-it.
I think we are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the “infamous” Love Chapter. And, I say infamous, because it is often read at many a wedding…it was read at both of mine. That is right…even at my first one. Which is why over the years, I have read over, and pondered the true meaning of this passage, and wondered if we truly understand what is being asked of us in terms of “love.”
I explained to Hayley and Hunter that I had read or seen somewhere that we can measure our ability to truly understand Paul’s description of “love,” and whether we are displaying it by reading the chapter and inserting our own names. So, I read it, and inserted theirs.
Hunter/Hayley is patient and kind. Hunter/Hayley is not rude, does not demand his or her own way, and is not irritable.
“Have you been these things to each other lately? To me?”
Then I shared with them the reason that Post-it was in my Bible. I had been transparent with my daughter about my struggles over my year of hurt, only because it was apparent many afternoons when I arrived home, that I was not in a good place. I value honesty and transparency, and not only do I value them where I work, I do at home, and in all areas of my life. She knew that “love” had not always been welcomed in every place God had me assigned.
So, I explained why I had the sticky notes on my office door. That it was part of a self-esteem assignment. I explained that they were all supposed to be gone. All spread to different parts of the school to spread random “feel good” messages. How one was still stuck to the door when I returned. One that said, “Always be Kind.” I told them I didn’t think it was left by chance. I told them how I rolled my eyes at God that day, but took the note down anyway, and placed it right there in my Bible, where Paul had defined love. Each morning and night, I inserted that individual’s name, the one written on that Post-it. Prayed that God would show what love was supposed to look like. That this person would know how much God loved them. And, I wanted my kids to know that, too.
That He loved them even if they messed up. And, even if in that particular moment they didn’t like each other very much.
And, then it came. That moment of truth. When my own need to insert my own name in that Love Chapter was revealed.
When Hayley looked at me and said: “So, if you pray for that one, do you pray for the other person involved? The one who hurt you? Do you insert that name, too?”
No. No, I hadn’t. I didn’t like them very much. I was glad God had delivered me from that. And, honestly. I was still hurting a little.
So, when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he isn’t talking about the people we like. He is talking about everyone. And later when he recounts the story of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), he also explains what a loving neighbor does. He shows mercy, or “compassion and forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
See, showing mercy and praying over that sticky note was easy. Praying for those we are concerned for, for whom we care and love. That’s easy.
Loving those who hurt us. That stuff is hard. And it is downright crazy. But, that is the kind of love God calls us to.
And, that is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness is crazy love.
It looks kind of like this:
“But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
Here is what we know about Joseph. He was loved by his father more than his brothers. He was even given a special gift-a beautiful robe from his father, and the ability to interpret dreams. Because of this his brothers grew jealous and resentful of this love. They sold him into slavery, where Joseph was wrongly accused of crimes against Potiphar’s wife, and remained in prison for several years under Pharoah’s watch. Now, he was eventually freed and became ruler of Egypt. But, he didn’t dwell on his past. He was made victorious, and when confronted with his brothers, he offered forgiveness, and promised to look after their children.
That’s some crazy love, right?
While she may not be the epitome of Christian decorum, I do love this statement from Beyonce:
“Love is an endless act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. Forgiveness is the final act of love.”
Now, while I am called to pray for those who intended to harm me as Hayley reminded me, I am not so sure I could open my home to and promise to look after their children like Joseph. While, I have been called crazy in the name of love, I am not sure I could do that for some who have hurt me. Thankfully, forgiveness didn’t say I had to do that in order to love. I don’t have to set myself up to be harmed again. God provided me my way out of that. But, it does mean there may come a time, this person is the Jew on the side of the road, and I am the neighbor being asked to show mercy.
My call from God is to be the despised Samaritan, and to “go and do the same” as Jesus commanded in Luke 10:37. To do as I would want done to me. To reach out and help. Even if I feel like it is undeserved. Offering the love God so freely offered me.
A love that offered its final act of forgiveness. Its final act of love on a cross. For me. For you. Even for those who harmed us.
So, to recap…what is crazy love?
It’s loving God so much that we will go to great lengths to do what He asks even if it does not make sense. We want more than just a five minute devotional time with Him during the day. We want hours of quiet time with Him.
It is loving our neighbors so much that helping is not an obligation, not a nuisance, but an honor. We jump at the chance to feed the hungry, to help the needy, to lend a hand to the hurting.
It is loving without conditions. Forgiving others faults because your Savior forgave you. It’s allowing others to come to you each day as a new person, because “love keeps no record of wrongs.”
It’s crazy to some. It’s reckless to others. And it is always pursuing. Never giving up on its mission to go after the one. But, God’s love is worth it. It is always worth it. It is not something to keep to yourself. It is something to be shared.
So, go ahead. Be crazy. Crazy in Love with God. Crazy in Love with your neighbor. Offering forgiveness like crazy.
Because crazy love wins. It always wins.