The smell of hot chocolate filled the room, the cheesy movie was playing the background, our giggles were keeping everyone else in the house awake but we didn’t care because we were thirteen and this was our sleepover. My mum had this random rule for sleepovers; if someone came to stay over I had to give them my bed and I had to sleep on the floor – looking back it was a pretty cool way to give honour to the person who came to stay. Anyway, I’m getting off track so there we were, me and my friend; buzzing because of all the sugar we’d had and it was around 12ish which when you’re thirteen is pretty late (can you tell I lived a hardcore life?) so naturally all the stories and questions came to light. My friend asked me about this boy I was ‘dating’ and by dating I mean he would cycle me home from school everyday (not on his bike…he would walk me home with his bike and then cycle off once I got to my front door, how sweet!) which back in the day meant you were pretty serious about someone.
She then asked me the ultimate question; “So… do you love him?” which was followed by lots and lots of giggles. I told her I did love him and she began to giggle even more. “No you don’t, are you kidding me? Do you actually love him?” This went on for a wee while until I got pretty upset. Now I don’t know if it’s because we’d just watched Grease or I had been indoctrinated by Disney but I buried my head in the pillow and started to cry (and you thought I was dramatic these days! haha). Why didn’t she believe that I loved him? Did she think I was silly for loving him?
After some more tears and then some giggles she finally relented and said; “Fine, if you say you him, then you love him!”
This story has been playing a lot on my mind recently. Firstly, it made me laugh at how much I thought I knew about love at thirteen (but in the moment I thought that was love). Secondly, it brought back all the emotions I felt that night when my love for someone was being questioned- boy, does it hurt! But more importantly, thirdly, it made me think about my relationship with Jesus, my love for Him.
Have you ever spent time with someone who is in love? Maybe it’s the teenager who finally has been noticed by the guy she’s liked for months, or the couple who are at the “we’ve finally said ‘I love you’ to each other” stage, or the engaged couple who are counting down the days to their wedding or the married couple who are super excited to announce they’re having a baby. How do you know they are in love? They talk about the other person, honour them in the choices and decisions they make and they light up when they’re in the presence of that person.
How would you feel if someone questioned your deep genuine love for someone? What if they said your words and actions don’t match? What if they giggled and remarked that the other person doesn’t seem to mean as much to you as you keep on telling people?
What if someone spent time with you, sharing life with you and at the end of it genuinely asked; “Do you love Jesus?” I know my heart would be broken; how can I claim to be a follower of Jesus yet live my life in a way that does not reflect my love for Him?
We are called to be the salt and light of the earth, in other words; we are called to signpost people to Jesus. I’ve been pondering this week how our lives would look if our genuine love for Jesus led us in all things. If we surrendered every aspect of our lives to Him. If we lived to glorify Him and not ourselves.
- What would our days look like?
- What would they be filled with?
- How would we use our free time?
- What words would we speak?
- How would we spend our money?
- What would our relationships look like?
- What conversations would we have with our friends? family? strangers?
- What would our social media trail look like?
- How would we dress?
- What music would we listen to?
- What TV shows or movies would we watch?
- How would we view the Bible?
- How would we avail of prayer?
- How would we see people who are lost without Jesus?
Maybe like me, you are looking at this list and feel convicted; “Wow, my love for Jesus is so strong but my love to do things my way sometimes proves even stronger.” Let’s not look at this list as a stick to beat ourselves with but let the Holy Spirit use it to speak deep into our hearts; to remind us of how broken we are, how in need of a Saviour we are and how Jesus enables us to overcome the world through trusting in Him.
Love is to be built upon, nurtured and sought after. It is not a one time, got it all type of thing. It is a continual way of life that causes us to seek after God. How do you get to know a person you love? You spend time with them and in doing so you realise you love them even more.
Friends, the cross was ultimate act of love; Jesus died in your place. The empty tomb was the realisation that nothing is stronger than God’s love. And the forgiven heart is God’s way of enabling us to receive more of his love than we ever deemed possible.
You cannot experience God’s love and walk away unchanged. Church, events and conferences may reveal and enable you to experience God’s love afresh but do not settle there- seek Him daily; chat to Him, listen to Him, read His word, follow His leading, live life out of His love and empowerment.
My desire for us all is that when we meet someone for the first time or when people look at our lives they don’t need to ask the question “Do they love Jesus?” but they begin to question; “How can I love Jesus like this person does?”
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19