Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Hurts

Love hurts, love scars,
love wounds and marks
any heart not tough
or strong enough
to take a lot of pain.

I remember hearing someone talking about a “confrontation” they had initiated. After hearing a recap of the point by point dressing-down they had given to a friend regarding a certain sin-issue, I said, “Ouch!”

“Well, sometimes love hurts,” was their reply.

Love hurts. Somehow, I’m not sure that’s the correct interpretation of the phrase.

Would you think with me to your lowest point, to that horrible moment when someone found out that you had lied, cheated, stolen, gossiped, drank, smoked, laughed at a dirty joke, kicked a dog, said a curse word, lost your virginity, or looked longingly at a pretty woman who wasn't your wife. When your pride kicked your feet out from under you, and condemnation stole your breath, what pulled you out? What brought you back?

Was it a hard line? Was it the absolute holiness of God represented by the "discernment" of your brothers and sisters?

Let me take a time-out here to talk directly to the scholars: don't hide your actions behind Greek semantics, I took that class too. The difference between judgment and discernment is internal; I'm talking about perceptible actions.

OR, was it the grace of God represented by the agape love your received?

Love hurts? Doesn’t love cover our sins? (Prov 10:7)

This is not to say that sin does not require repentance, but, whenever the phrase "He/She needs to repent of his/her sin" is on our lips, we absolutely MUST remember that it is the kindness of God that BRINGS that repentance (Rom 2:1-4) not the dictate that repentance is necessary. 

Even those who have never read a bible know that sin requires repentance. It is not only the best publicized truth of Christian faith, but it is also one of the most universal social truths; there is rarely a need to say it. Yes you read that correctly, I’m saying that when someone’s sin is exposed, they do not need you to point out their sin and tell them to repent.

I already hear the reply: "But what if they are ignorant?" I’m going to be bold here and say, in 99 out of 100 cases, they aren’t. Most often, if someone denies their sin, they are not ignorant of it; rather their pride or pain has built up a rigid defensive wall against condemnation.

If you're hoping to help someone find repentence, there are two ways to get rid of this wall. You could get a sledge hammer or a wrecking ball to tear it down. However you will most definitely injure the soul hiding behind the wall. The other option is to coax the soul to open the gate to you, walk inside, and help them to deconstruct the wall, brick by brick.

Obviously, demolition is quicker and easier (and funner!) than deconstruction, but I’ve done a little demolition, so let me point something else out: you don’t demo something that you want to keep.

Love hurts. Does that mean love hurts the one receiving the love?

Regardless of the state of our hearts during our time wandering in the desert, regardless of whether we humbled ourselves and confessed or were humbled when we were caught, while we are sin, there is a place in our hearts crying out to God and to the people around us:

“Please! Know my sin and love me anyway!  I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know what to do so, please, let me walk into the light covered in dirt and love me anyway! Please don’t leave me!”

Oh, but how can we? How can we love you without touching your dirt? It’s embarrassing to talk about it. For that matter, how can we know your sin and not gossip about it? How can we listen to your difficult questions when we don’t have the answers? How can we listen to the screams of your flesh when you’re going through your sin-detox? What about the times when you’re mean to us? What about when your broken pride makes you lash out and accuse us? How can we pick you up when you keep falling down?

Love hurts. Isn’t it more accurate to say love hurts the one extending the love?

Don’t be fooled, friends. Grace isn't weak, it isn't soft. Extending love, acceptance, and forgiveness to a person who doesn't deserve it will be the single most difficult thing you will EVER do, if you don't think so, I have a Jewish carpenter with some wicked-looking scars who I'd like you to meet.

Yes, sometimes love hurts.

--Sarah Elizabeth

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