Love Like That
Dr. Les Parrott wrote a book, titled Love Like That. The book is a call to carefully observe the way Jesus loved, and love like He did. Dr. Parrott chose Ephesians 5:1-2 in The Message translation as the theme for the book:
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that."
I naturally and typically watched my dad as I was growing up, and I reflect his temperament and character in many ways. I'm a chip off the old block. Steady. Reliable. A man of my word. Loving my family. I don't remember actively thinking, "I want to be just like my dad," but I sure have turned out to be a lot like him.
When I gave my life to Jesus at age 15 and began to grow in my faith, I had another Father to imitate. Where my earthly dad was a stoic, reserved lover of his family, reflecting our German heritage, my heavenly Father is extravagant in His love for His children. The love of Jesus is not self-seeking. It is unconditional. He keeps loving, whether we return love to Him or not.
How do I know that this is what the love of God is like? I look to the Cross. I see Jesus laying down His life for the redemption of humanity and paying the price for my own sin. I hear His first words from the Cross, looking down at the Roman soldiers and the Jewish religious leaders, and saying, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
How do I know what the love of God is like? I see Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus in compassion for the grief of his dear friends, Martha and Mary. I watch as Jesus touches lepers and heals them. I observe Him weeping over Jerusalem, wishing they would allow Him to gather them under His protection like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. I see Jesus refusing to condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery, sheltering her from the anger of those who would stone her, and calling her to go and leave her life of sin.
I want to love like that. I want to be like Jesus. And far too often I am so wrapped up in my own schedule and challenges and interests that I miss the opportunities God puts in my life to love like Jesus loved. Sometimes I am blinded to the hurts and needs of those around me. Sometimes I see them, but ignore them.
Jesus told a parable once about a servant who owed his master an unbelievably huge sum of money. When the master called the servant to pay up, he could not. As a matter of fact, in his whole lifetime he could never repay the massive sum. Facing life imprisonment, the servant begged for time to repay the debt. The master did him one better, and forgave it all! The servant was free! But Jesus said the servant ran into a fellow servant who owed him a small sum - perhaps the equivalent of ten or twenty dollars. The fellow servant was not able to pay, and the servant who had just been forgiven his massive debt had his fellow servant arrested and thrown in jail over the small sum. When his master heard about it, he was really torqued off.
You and I have received extravagant, unconditional love. The debt of our sin we could never repay has been paid off by Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross. His call is that we should love others as we have been loved. That we should forgive when we have been wronged. That we should turn the other cheek when we have been insulted or harmed.
Here is what I have learned in over 50 years of walking with Jesus: I cannot do it. I cannot love like Jesus loves. It's not in me to do so. Left to myself, I will fail miserably at imitating His love with my own insufficient human love. I not only need to love others like Jesus loved, I need to love others with Jesus' love flowing in and through my life. With His love filling my life, I can love like Jesus loved. In my own love -- not so much.
"He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that."
To love like that, I have to empty myself of myself, and be filled with the Presence and love of Jesus Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in my life to overcome my selfishness with the unconditional, sacrificial love of Jesus. Then, I can love like that.
Help me, Jesus. I cannot do this on my own. Mold and shape my heart after yours. And help me love like that.