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Selfless Christian Love & Discernment

As Christians we are called to love one another, that includes our enemies and our neighbors (Matt 5:44, 22:29). Jesus said that the love we demonstrate to one another, if it resembles Christ love for us, will reveal if we are truly His (John 13:34-35).

Unfortunately, in the attempt to live out the radical call to Christian love, many have been hurt. That shouldn't surprise us because Christ was ultimately killed but sometimes people have been unnecessarily hurt to no gain.

And I believe that is largely due to the fact that people do not understand what Biblical love means. For most people it is a cross between 1 Corinthians 13 and Top 40. In other occasions (and maybe not independent of reason number one) is that what people give is not “love” but a cry for love. They give not because they love but because they want love. I do not want to make it so simple but I believe that these are two of the most prominent reasons for why people get hurt when they attempt to live out Christian love.

I have not taken the time to write this to explore and define love but I do want to point out an important aspect of Christian love that is too often neglected. Yes, as was said earlier, Christian love is costly and we should never be surprised if we get hurt in the process. But it is important to realize that Christ, by His amazing love, allowed us to kill Him so that He could bring redemption to our planet and reveal His wisdom before an intelligent universe (Eph 1:7, 3:10). He allowed himself to be killed by us to further a plan.

He was not (Emphasis on that NOT) ignorantly taken advantage of. God in Christ was not crying for attention or giving himself to no avail. In His ministry when He knew that people were taking advantage of His miracles He would leave (Mark 1:32-2:39)[1], when knew He could get hurt He walked away (Luke 4:28-30).

Other times Christians feel that Christian love calls them to not allow people to leave or walk away. “How is it loving to let someone walk off a cliff?” we reason, or “I must demonstrate my love by holding on”. And how many in the process of chasing have been taken advantage of? But Christ allowed the rich young ruler to walk away (Matt 19:22), in the book of Romans chapter 2 Paul says that God “gave away” those who wanted to go their own way.

The truth is that as much as we want to love the way God loves we are unable. Not just because we are sinners (that is a given so “duh”), but also because we do not have the energy to love as He does.

God can sacrifice more in His love because He has infinitely more to give. God can read the hearts and the minds of those He loves and interacts with, we can’t. A mother can love her child as he/she cries but eventually she grows tired; God does not. Humans cannot backstab God, bankrupt God, leave God with an emotional dept, a physical scar, or trust issues. But humans can do all these things to each other.

Love is risky business, but how can we continue to love when the love we give is not sustainable? Jesus warned His disciples “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt 24:12). (Let’s see a raise of hands of people who because of some fool they are having a hard time loving?)

The call to radical Christian love includes discernment on the behalf of the believer. The believer must know his limits and set up reasonable boundaries.

[1] In Mark 1:32-2:39 Jesus has gained a lot of momentum and trust. This would have been ideal for His movement. For Him to leave would have been strange for the disciples. It could be compared to a young business moving locations as business is getting good and profits are going up. He cared more about His mission being spread then people becoming obsessed about His abilities.

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