By Maranda Hoefs
I feel 100% unqualified to write a blog on love enduring and love persevering right now. While I’ve been praying about what God would have me write for a long time, the closer I got to the date of me writing, the more questions and confusion set in. I can’t write a cute little blog about how “love endures to the end” or “love always perseveres” and wrap it up in a pretty red bow and send it off, when the truth is our world and our country and, yes, even the church is seeing anything BUT love right now.
If I’m honest, I didn’t see it coming. My heart and soul settled in to the quarantine life. I was sad and then a little angry at first, but my word for the year is surrender. So I shifted my perspective and hunkered down with my little family, whom I love, and it wasn’t too big of an issue. But now, now with all the disagreements, the differing science, the absolute unleashing of anything BUT love being witnessed in our country and in our local community, I find my heart in utter disarray.
Reading comments from fellow believers, people within the church, the contention between differing ideas and opinions . . . this is where the discouragement in my heart set in. I cried. “What is happening Lord? This isn’t love. This isn’t what we are supposed to look like or sound like. How did we get here, and what do we do now that we are here?” My quiet time in the Word never ceased, yet it became kind of stale. I found myself reading from the prophets and whoa, it’s not the most uplifting reading material. Especially these days. My prayers became cries of “increase my faith and my trust in You,” “awaken Your church,“ and “show me what Your love looks like in all of this. Show me HOW to love in all of this.”
Since then, I’ve moved on to the gospels and something about Jesus just fills my soul. He was so bold and contrary to the culture. Reading the way He walked through the corruption and evil has encouraged my heart and has reminded me that love wins! Love does endure through all things. It does persevere until the end of time. Love might just look a little different then I’m used to these days. Love might be saying the hard thing and speaking God’s truth to a friend. It might be asking hard questions that take a great deal of courage. Seeing the way Jesus loved, changed people.
Currently, I’m in Matthew 10 and I want to share a few verses. This is out of the message version:
“Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.”
“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived. Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”Matthew 10:16-23 MSG
“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.”
“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.”Matthew 10:26-28 MSG
If we think being part of a “silent majority” is love, I think we’ve been played. Jesus wasn’t silent. He spoke, and He spoke with love. Not a watered down, inclusive kind of love that is scared of offending someone. A lot of the times the love was uncomfortable and downright awkward. (Look up synonyms for those words. It basically means, it wasn’t pretty!) One of my favorite things, and something I need to work on, is that He asked great questions that made people think differently.
I’ve been reminded lately that the only way to love better is to look at Love itself. Not what our culture says is love, not what the media or the world says is love, not what my experience of love has been, but to learn from the One who IS love. In order for my own love to endure and persevere through all of this, through to the end, I need to have a better understanding of Love Himself. I need to sit and be in the presence of Love. To be changed by Love. To be surrounded by my Father. I need that time to truly comprehend in my heart and soul what Paul says when he writes that “love endures all things.”
We, as Christ followers, need to continue to sit at the feet of Jesus–to be surrounded and engulfed by the presence of our Father who is love. There, and only there, will we be changed and learn to love the way He has called us to love. This might look different than what we thought and might be uncomfortable and awkward and honestly, really hard.
But always remember, love wins. It endures and perseveres until the end. God’s love for us never runs out, which means we don’t look for that easy way out either. We face these trials head on with a long term and eternal perspective, and we see each other through to the end, even if there’s some abuse and hardships along the way. That’s what it means to endure.