What does it mean to love abundantly?
There is the scripture which says that no greater love exists than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The single most extravagant act of love in all of time was the crucifixion. God and man collided with sin and death. Even to His last moments, bruised, bloodied and dying, Jesus chose to forgive. He chose to love despite the pain, despite the thorns, despite the brokenness of His own spirit.
I have loved, in ways I thought extravagant. Often with disastrous results. No, I haven’t been nailed to a cross. However, my heart, motives, actions and character have taken a beating. I’ve bled over relationships broken beyond my ability to repair. I’ve chosen to forgive. I’ve also chosen to toughen up my defenses. I’ve become far more selective on who, what, when, where and why I will lay down my life. I found myself devoid of life to give.
But doesn’t loving abundantly mean exactly that? Abundance. Not careful and selective choosing. Not defensive protectiveness. But loving despite the consequences or the messiness of the journey?
Hours before the hellish abuses of the crucifixion, Jesus prayed alone in the garden. He prayed that it would all pass by Him, that He wouldn’t have to endure the horrific physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Yet, He made a two part decision. The first was to come to terms with the toll His love would demand. The second was to see beyond the excruciating death to what lay beyond.
Hebrews 12:2 (ERV) 2 We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.” (emphasis mine) Jesus fully realized the pain He would endure. He also accepted it ‘as if it were nothing’.
The cross of crucifixion-nothing! Are you kidding? He could accept it because the joy on the other side of the pain far overshadowed the hellishness He would endure. The ends were so glorious, so beautiful, so joyful that the pain would become nothing.
To love abundantly is to come to terms with the fact that love will hurt. It also means to recognize on the other side of that pain is something good IF we look to the One who makes us complete.
Less-more-abundantly is a journey. One I am undertaking to understand how to love abundantly through the pain to get to the other side.
There is a song which asks all the questions I do when it comes to love. It gives no easy answers, however, it points the way. There is only one way to love abundantly, and that is with arms wide open, my heart exposed. This blog is one way I am opening my arms. Will you open yours?