Last Sunday I got dressed for church in my Joe Brown multi-coloured crinkle dress and matched it with teal tights and black patent chunky heel multi-strapped shoes. I then being inspired by my 13 year old daughter’s fashion sense grabbed a dark teal pashmina to wear on top. I looked at myself in the full-length mirror in my bedroom (the one that makes me look slimmer than I actually am) and thought I look a bit too dressy for church but there was no time to change. I came downstairs and declared to my husband (tongue-in-cheek) that I looked too good for church and should be taken out for dinner instead! When we got home that afternoon, my husband said to me that he was taking the whole family out to dinner tonight as long as, “… you wear that dress because you look great!” Money is tight in our household. This was a loving sacrifice. Still feeling the love……
This is a difficult blog to write as the message is one that is close to my heart these days. I thought I understood love and what love is and how to show, give love but I find myself being taught in recent days that love is even deeper than I knew. Madeline L’engle who was an amazing author of children’s books (most notably A Wrinkle In Time) said, ‘In the evening of life we shall be judged on love, and not one of us is going to come off very well, and were it not for my absolute faith in the loving forgiveness of my Lord, I could not call on Him to come.’ I like to think we all love. We love our family or some of them; we love our friends, our spouse, and our children but do we really love? I mean love unconditionally and in a way that is supernatural rather than natural?
1 John 4:16 says: ‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’ And in 1 John 4:8 we read: ‘Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.’ By these verses we understand that God is love and that love comes from God. We also know that our spirits come from God and we are made in His image. So where does love exist? It exists in us. At our core, we are also love. Galatians 5:22 says: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love…’ When we love, we are acting in spirit; our spirit which is of God who is love. In this way, we are one. 1 John 4:12 reads: ‘No one has ever seen God, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.’ I read that as a promise…our human love…our ordinary but nice sort of love can be BIGGER. It can be perfected in us!’
I bet you have had moments like this: you are having a quiet time with God, praying, meditating or whatever spiritual practice you follow and you FEEL so uplifted, so filled up and you go out into your world and the first person you meet, you reach out to them in love even though they may be a complete stranger. That is spirit. That is love. They are the same. Spirit is love. Living spiritually is living in love. You have just communicated in spirit. However, as the day progresses that love you have been feeling may start to wane. That is why spiritual practice needs to be continuous. We need to be in that loving mode always. Wayne Dyer (I know I have been quoting him a lot lately but isn’t he just great?) says, “Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.” Barack Obama said, “It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
If we are all living and moving from our spirit; if we are all communicating in love think what the world would be like. What kind of love are really talking about? What does it look like? Here’s a beautiful example: In John 21:15-17 we read: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Spiritual love is tangible. It is operational. It doesn’t stop at empathy or sympathy. It propels. When we love in spirit, we communicate in spirit (love). We feed the hungry; we reach out to those we are led to reach out to; we pray for those who need prayer; we give gifts; we give affection; we give affirmation; we serve in any way we can.
This is the part that I am labouring to communicate. We can serve and give love from our bodies; that is to say from the surface of our beings. We can give love from our spirit, true love, which God is perfecting in us. The love that acts, even when it is not convenient for us, the love that moves us to give when money is tight or serve when time is not abundant; the love that causes us to hug someone when they smell; the love that propels us to drive out of our way in order to help someone. The love that changes us into joyful, loving beings. The love that gifts us with the gift of exhortation when our previous nature was one that criticized. That is supernatural love. That is real love. That is spirituality.